Marathon Day #2


My marathon was today.

It was AWESOME.  I PR’d!!!

Jenny split times

I know it is super obnoxious to be like, “LOOK AT MEEEEE” but I just can’t help feeling happy and proud of my time.  I tried to be pretty quiet about it on Facebook but I feel less bad about talking about it on my blog.

I might have mentioned that I did one marathon, the San Antonio Rock N’ Roll, back in November 2011.  I finished that marathon in 4:33.  The temperature crept up into the 80s by mile 17, so it was a brutal race.  I really don’t remember the last 10 miles of that marathon at all, other than going into a survival shuffle and perking up near the end, since I always try to finish strong if I am able.  While that marathon was an amazing experience, I burned out really badly from it and didn’t run very often for the next year and a half.  In 2013, wanting to return to form, I decided to train for a half marathon. I’ve done two since then but felt thirsty for another marathon.

This training season went really well, with your normal moments of doubt like, “Am I training hard/fast/strongly enough?” followed by little injuries creeping here and there (my right shin hurt on and off for the last couple of weeks).  I was terrified to do the Austin marathon.  I live here so I know how hilly the city is, and the half marathon course, which I’ve done twice now, is very hilly (I’d say the half marathoners have the worst hill at the end of their run.  It is so steep that it’s difficult to run up without feeling like an asthmatic.  If that hill had been on the marathon route, I might have just crawled up it).  But it seemed like a challenge and as the weeks went by, I felt more and more ready to do it.  The past several weeks I listened to my running song, “Bridge Burning” by the Foo Fighters, and envisioning myself finishing strong by conquering the last (not-so-steep) hill.

I was incredibly nervous yesterday. I couldn’t sit still, cleaning my entire apartment, and talking with Boyfriend about all my random fears (“WHAT IF I GET FOOD POISONING TODAY?!”) I somehow managed to sleep a little and woke up at 5 am, nervous as hell but ready.  Boyfriend got up with me, drove me to the race area, and hung out with me until the start of the race. Boyfriend is not a morning person, but he always dutifully waits with me before every race, cheerily and without complaint.  Being there with him always makes me feel so much better. He gets about a bajillion boyfriend points for being so awesome.

About a minute before the starting line, I thought, “I can’t believe I’m crazy enough to do this again!” But once I crossed the starting line, I turned on my running song and started.  It’s always a bit emotional to see so many people running, with the crowds cheering you on so much.  I listened to the advice of my dad and my training coach and took the first three miles (which were a slow climb uphill) slowly.  Once we started going downhill, I started going faster and found my groove.

I had three goals for this race.  My baseline goal was beating my San Antonio time.  My “I really really want to PR” goal time was 4:10-4:15.  My “this is probably not even possible, but I can dream, can’t I?” goal time was a sub-four hour marathon.

I passed up the pace group for 4:10 around mile 6 or 7.  I thought, “Well, as long as I can keep it together, I got this.” My experience from San Antonio helped. I had been on track to running about a 4:15 then until the heat completely overwhelmed me.  Keeping this in mind (since the temperature was already creeping into the 60s and getting humid), I reminded myself not to get too carried away with the race and to focus on finding a pace I could sustain for another 20 miles.

Around mile 9 or 10, the course split and the half marathoners went one way, while the marathon runners ran the other.  This part always makes me a little emotional, regardless of which route I take.  I thought, “I’m really doing this! I’m RUNNING A MARATHON!”  I had the dumbest grin on my face.  The half marathoners wished us luck while we encouraged them.  The camaraderie of these races are awesome.

I was feeling pretty good until mile 14 or 15. I knew I would hit a wall then, just because I always hit a wall around that portion of the course during training. It’s in a neighborhood and there’s a very long stretch of just street and houses, so it’s easy to feel discouraged.  In training, I’ve found that I hit a wall in the middle when I still have around 10 miles left to go.  I found a pace that was comfortable and stuck with it.

Around mile 18, I saw my coach on the sidelines, which was awesome. I did a total girly scream when I saw her.  She had oranges, which was equally awesome.  “You guys have too much energy,” one tired runner said as he passed.  I thought, “I DO have energy.”  Seeing my coach and hearing that comment completely turned the race around for me.  From then on, everything turned into one of those extreme advertisements in my head. “Fuck this, I’m strong!  I got this shit!  I’m at Mile 19, I FUCKING GOT THIS.”

At mile 20, I cheered without shame as I passed the marker.  I felt so happy.  I was still feeling really tired but I felt a lot stronger than I had in San Antonio.  I looked at my watch and figured that even if I slowed down to a 10 min/mile pace, I would be able to meet my goal.  I was so excited but wanted to stay focused for the rest of the run.

At mile 25, I saw the 4:00 pacer.  In my fantasies pre-race, I would catch up to the 4:00 group and then pass by them to finish a sub-four hour marathon. So when I saw her in real life, I was like, “No fucking way.”  I looked at the time and realized that the pacer was running a little slower and I probably wouldn’t beat 4 hours.  But not like I couldn’t try.  So I kicked it in for that last mile. I bolted up that last hill, listening to my song, feeling so tired and happy as I crossed the finish time, and elated at my time – 4:05!  It wasn’t quite sub-four hour, but it was close.  And it was 28 minutes faster than my San Antonio time.

Envisioning the finish line pre-race always makes me a little emotional, and I really wanted to SHED SOME TEARS, DAMN IT. But I am always way too relieved and happy at the finish to cry.  The closest I came to crying was when a volunteer put the marathon finisher’s medal around my neck.  That was a wonderful moment.

And then my legs really, really, really started hurting. I ran into some running friends and while it was wonderful to see them, it was painful even standing still.

I found Boyfriend near the gear pick-up station and I made the slow, slow, slow walk back to his car.

This afternoon has been pretty chill. I took about a two or three hour nap and my legs feel better. Boyfriend and I ate Thai food. I have been basking in the afterglow of love from my family and friends.

And now…will I do another marathon?
Pre-race, I was determined to take a break from marathon training for at least a year.  Training is so brutal on your body. I just wanted to relax and focus more on “shorter” half-marathons.

But now…I don’t know guys.  I was so close to a sub-four hour marathon. SO. CLOSE.

…I kind of want to train for another one.

I’m going to relax and see what happens. I won’t pressure myself because I don’t want to burn out from running again.  Even if I wait a year to decide to train again, I know I can do it.  For now, I’m going to be completely lazy without any expectations.


The First Update of 2015


IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I MADE A POST! (You’re supposed to read that to the tune of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.”)

(Am I trying too hard?)


The last time I blogged, it was…December?  December was a great month. It was, daresay, the best month of the entire year.  Let’s see.  Boyfriend and I went to a show in San Antonio where we were able to meet Devin Townsend and Tobin Abasi (guitarist from Animals as Leaders).  They were really nice.  Boyfriend is the mega fan but I still had fun.  Then several days after that, I had my half marathon.  I ran it maybe 45 seconds slower than the half I ran in February, but it was still a lot of fun.  Then the Friday following my half, Boyfriend and I went to see the Black Keys and St. Vincent.  Not going to lie, I was there for St. Vincent, who was AMAZING.

Then Christmas happened, where I was thoroughly spoiled by all my loved ones. I think my favorite gift was from my brother:


This tape is Dave Grohl’s solo project that he completed before he joined Nirvana.  My brother was afraid I wouldn’t recognize it when I opened it, but my reaction was “OMG OMG WHAT!?” the minute I opened it.  I still can’t believe I own it.

Boyfriend and I took a wonderful trip to celebrate our third anniverary.  We went to museums in Houston, where we were able to pet sharks and see Monet, Picasso, and Dali paintings up close; to Galveston, where we were able to PET PENGUINS; and NASA.  NASA was so crowded that we weren’t able to do much.

But back to the penguins.  We took a behind the scenes tour of the penguin exhibit, so we were able to see how their food is prepared and where they live.  At the end, the penguin participated in an “enrichment activity” (I am so tickled by that phrase) that involved the penguin stepping in paint and walking over canvas.  Our penguin was named Mo and she was the cutest thing ever.  See for yourself:

I totally bought a Mo original for $10, and it is now hanging on my wall.

As you can imagine, I was not ready to return to work/being an adult.  January was a little bit stressful.  The Site That Will Not Die returned with a vengeance.  I think of that site as a noxious weed; just when you think you’ve exterminated it, it grows stronger with the strength of your tears. I wish I could tell you how awful that site is but I like having a job and not being fired.

Then field work has been postponed twice already.  I was so ready to go out and do it, but I’m glad that we didn’t go; it was so muddy that I would have missed my 21-mile training run, for sure.  Two coworkers are going out next week in my place so I can rest up for the marathon, and I feel SO GUILTY ABOUT IT.  It will be pretty muddy and they will be doing a lot of walking. I’ve been to this site over 20 times now and haven’t missed a groundwater sampling event since 2011.  So I feel like an overprotective mom with this site. My coworkers are awesome and I know the site is in good hands. I just feel so much ownership of the site, for better or for worse, that it feels almost wrong not going.  But it will be nice resting up for the marathon.  It will be even nicer not having to go out afterward, since I will be waddling for probably about a week.

I can’t believe the marathon is ten days away. I’m excited. I’m terrified.  I’m tired. I’ve been training since July and it’s easy for me to go into freak out mode (did I train hard enough? Am I going to do well?) I entered into my first marathon with a happy haze of naivete’.  I’ve obviously never given birth but I liken it to that…you don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into until you actually do it.  So as excited as I am for the marathon, I’m also like, “Oh yeah. Miles 17-24 are probably really, really going to suck.”  I ordered a new Foo Fighters shirt and “Bridge Burning” is pretty much my soundtrack for my runs now since I’m getting myself hyped up for it, and just thinking about it now, honestly, is making my heart race with excitement.  I can’t wait.  But I’m so scared.

I think after this race, I’m going to rest with the marathons for a bit.  I find that I enjoy training for half marathons better.  I can still run the distance, which I genuinely enjoy, without killing my body.  Marathon training is tough, and I’m not even running as much as I should (I’m running three times a week). I’m doing well enough on the long runs so I think that the amount I’m running is perfectly okay, and my coach even said that she’s trained for several marathons with that schedule.  Muscles hurt more than they used to though, and my right shin just starts hurting on and off throughout the day now. I’m looking forward to taking a nice, long rest after this marathon, and maybe train for another half during the second half of the year.

We’ll see, we’ll see.

I’ve been keeping busy on the creative front and will have to dedicate an entire post to my efforts.  I’m pretty excited about the year. I have some neat personal projects in the works, and I have some travel opportunities to look forward to (one that may or may not involve watching Dave Grohl play music or two or three hours…) 🙂  I’ve been getting closer to a group of coworkers, which has been really cathartic, especially regarding the Site That Cannot Be Named.

I will be better about updating this blog. Yes.