Friday, October 2, 2015

The Final Countdown


Well, I missed Runfessions last week...I actually was working on a post before I left for Seattle, but I couldn't wrap it up in time to publish it. I didn't have anything planned for today, but I've got a lot of thoughts going through my head this past week as I start the final countdown to Chicago Marathon #3!
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If you read my Wednesday Word post on Passion, you know that I had a major freakout this week after my bad 12 miler on Monday.
Like an "I'm going to DNS" moment. 
Like an  "I'm a fool to think I could sub-4 this marathon." 
Like "What if it's 80 degrees and humid?" 
Like "I'm too old to be doing this anymore!".
Are you rolling your eyes? Because I am.

Fortunately, my friends Marcia and Sara talked me off the cliff. Marcia, in her usual pragmatic way simply told me:

 "you've got the bad one out of your system
and this gem:

"you can have all horseshit runs from here til race day and still rock it.

I'm thinking about getting that one tattooed on my forearm. If nothing else, looking at it on a run will make me smile, and we all know what smiling does for a run...

Sara reassured me that it was most likely "all the hills" I ran in Seattle. And the humidity. And she had a tough run too. Misery loves company.

Maybe it's the taper talking.

Anyways, I had a lot of nice comments on the post, Facebook, and Instagram regarding my angst. Thank you to everyone who shared stories and provided support. It really does take a village to train a marathoner.



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Yesterday I had my final speedwork on the plan. After a couple days off from running, a few good nights sleep, and my yoga for runners regimen (or you can do Beth's here), I woke up feeling great. I put on my Brooks Run Happy shirt and that is what I did--I ran happy. I flew through my mile splits, even running hard into the 25 mph winds. Having the wind at my back was even better. I noticed the walkers smiling at me as I ran by, and I thought maybe that my shirt was having a happy effect on everyone. Or maybe it was my wild hair blowing in the wind. Or maybe they were laughing at me tearing around the pond. Whatever it was, when they smiled, I smiled back, and I felt that lightness return to my legs.

This shirt just makes me happy.

Today's truth post: 
Smile and the whole world smiles at you.

Note to self: smile A LOT at the marathon. The streets of Chicago are lined with spectators cheering on the runners. There are plenty of people to smile at. More cowbell. Kids to high five. Power button signs. Do them all.

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I was not smiling at the SeaTac Airport. On the trip out to Seattle, as I was boarding the plane, the attendant stopped me and told me my carry-on bag was too big. She told me I'd have to check my bag. Meanwhile, my sister, who had priority boarding, was allowed to board with THE EXACT SAME suitcase. Whatever. So on the way home, thinking I had to check my bag, I packed a bottle of wine we bought on Bainbridge Island. But in order to check my bag, the airlines wanted me to pay $60 dollars. Oh hell no! I figured I'd just check it for free at the gate. You know where this is going, right? At the TSA baggage scan, I saw the agent yank my bag off the belt. She snapped on her latex gloves with the authority of a surgeon. I had a doh! moment. The wine! I told her about the wine. I offered to find it and she waved me away. "Step away from the inspection area!" I put my hands up and backed away. She pulled the offending bottle of wine out of my bag and set it on the counter as she rifled through my carefully packed bag. I told her to enjoy the wine. She told me it was going into the garbage. Yeah right.


I walked away and I started to cry. I may even have used the F-word a few times. My sister calmed me down. It wasn't the loss of the wine. What a way to end our wonderful sister trip. I was just so angry and frustrated and degraded by the whole process. I felt like Chevy Chase when he found out Wally World was closed.

If Marty Moose was there, I would have punched him too.


For the rest of the trip, I amused myself with scenarios of the TSA agents partying after their shift with all the stuff they confiscated from travelers. And laughing at all the fools trying to sneak stuff onto the plane...

But oddly, they didn't make us take off our shoes or take out our laptops...

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I'm already weather stalking for the marathon and it's looking promising:


But this is Chicago, and conditions change in a hurry...stay tuned for that one. Remember that 10 miler I ran in April? It was 65 at the start and then the wind shifted off Lake Michigan, dropping the temps halfway through the race to 48? So who knows? It could be 88 degrees (it was that one year) or it could snow (it did that the following year). Or maybe it could do both. I mean, some of us will be out there for 4-5 hours. Conceivably, we could have all 4 seasons in one handy dandy race.

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Not only did I have my final speedwork of my training cycle, but also my final CrossFit session (of this training cycle) with Becky. Fearing that I'm getting wimpy in my old age, I asked her if this training cycle was harder than last year. It sure felt like it.

The running was the same, but the CrossFit stuff was harder, she said.

I knew it! Ok, then. Whew.

I talked to her about my revised goals for the marathon. Before I learned that having a BQ didn't necessarily mean Boston acceptance this year (the cut-off was 2:28 mins under the qualifying times), I decided that I wasn't going to push for a sub-4 anymore. Now I know that I'd have to push even harder, and I just don't want to do that. Nope.

There. I said it. The pressure is off.

As this is very likely my last Chicago marathon, I've decided that I'd rather have fun again and finish strong. There is beer at the finish line, remember? So even if that means no PR, I'm ok with that. As much as I'd love to wrap up my marathoning with a 5th marathon in Boston, I don't think it's in the cards for me. And believe it or not, I'm ok with that. I've got Big Sur to look forward to....

Interestingly, Becky told me that she would be disappointed if I did anything different than have a strong race. She told me time doesn't matter to her. She doesn't want me to kill myself to get a PR or a sub-4. She told me I did great with my training and that is the most important. Although I don't have CrossFit next week, I'm going to see her for, as she put it, "a pep talk".

And that's why I love my coach. Her mantra? Good vibes only.

I'm feeling the love, my friends. Chicago marathon, I am ready. Let's do this.

How do you keep yourself sane as a big race approaches? After a bad training run? Have any clothes that seem to make you run faster? Ever have anything confiscated from your suitcase at the airport?

71 comments:

  1. Random thought: If you are old, then I am dead.

    Now that the BQ pressure if off, you will have a blast in Chicago. And I'm betting that keeping a Big Sur with Kristina in mind will make it even better.

    I could not run a big race. If you had seen the bag of nerves I was at last week's charity 5K you'd have chuckled. I wasn't even racing, just running, but I'm so afraid to get lost (don't laugh, it's happened, I have zero sense of direction) that I can barely make it to the start line. Not sane. Insane. But as I near my goal run (right now 13.1) I don't think about the end game. I don't even think about the end of the week. I'm so insecure and unconfident that I can think only about today and pray I can hang on for the next one.

    After a bad training run, I remember that in the four years I've been running, they are invariably followed by especially good ones. Every time.

    Shirts that make me smile and keep me hanging on, if not run faster, are "Finishing = Winning," "One Bad Mother Runner," (a gift from my older son), and best of all "Too Stubborn To Quit." I came THIS CLOSE to quitting on my ten mile quest last summer, and thinking about that last shirt helped me to go out just one more time. I'll need it for sure these final six weeks of half marathon training.

    Finally, I've never had anything confiscated at the airport, but back in the day before all this security B.S. was in place, by giving up seats on an overbooked flight, we were upgraded to first class! It really is luxurious. I commented to the stewardess that I really liked the wine and she gave me a bottle to take home! As we were leaving Logan Airport in Boston, I turned a corner in a stairwell and the bottle smashed to bits against the wall. :(

    Happy weekend! Enjoy your calm week. Look forward to the pep talk with Becky. And rock that marathon.

    Love, Connie

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    1. I've worked so hard to combat those prerace nerves, Connie! But I've been in your shoes many times. I've never bailed on a race because of it, but I've struggled mightly with them!

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  2. I'm only at the halfway point in my marathon training and I'm already obsessing over fueling, pacing, the what if's. I think it's worse now that I have one full under my belt. I just want to do better than last time. I know it's so much easier said than done, but trust your training. You've got this! I also obsess over the weather. When the 10-15 day forecast is out, I'm checking it like every hour on the hour. Sorry about your airport experience. I've only flown a few times and it's not something I enjoy.

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    1. I was obsessing more at the halfway point of training than I am now. Now it's all up to the day, the weather, how I sleep (homecoming is the night before)...you know. Factors out of my control.

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  3. I'm with Becky--GOOD VIBES ONLY.You are going to run the best race that you can on that day. Go out there and smile and have fun and enjoy a privilege that only a handful of people in the world get to enjoy. You are going to be boss.

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  4. Wendy....you are more than ready to conquer Chicago. You have done all the work (and much more). Now all you have to do is stay focused and put one foot in front of the other, smile and enjoy the last 26.2 miles of the "This is marathon training" journey. It's only running. And you are a running. You will do great cause you worked hard to get where you are now. And you have an army rooting for you! Enjoy....that is what is really is about. Run STRONG and Good Luck next week. On a side note.....I was waiting by my mail box on crutches last week and my mailman told me he is running Chicago. Small world but I wouldn't want to paint it! RON

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    1. It is a small world! When I was in Seattle, I saw a woman wearing a Chicago half marathon shirt.

      Thanks for the encouragement! I hope to make myself and everyone else proud.

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  5. My best marathon was Chicago last year when I had zero expectations. My only goal was to have fun. I laughed, I cried, I walked a little at the end and ended up with a PR. I call it the accidental PR race.
    You are ready...all you need to do is have fun. Taper runs are always the worst run. You're ready!!

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    1. I'll be happy if I can have as much fun as I did last year. That's the bottom line for me. <3

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  6. These are just taper crazies! You are the most prepared runner I know. I can't wait to see you crush it you so got this! Have fun that's what it is all about right

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    1. I realized after I wrote this that yep, my diagnosis is taper crazy!

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  7. I have read and heard that TSA agents sometimes sell the stuff they confiscate. TSA agents are total morons, seriously. I really enjoyed reading this!!!! I feel so old sometimes too, I may just use that as an excuse on bad run days. You know the conversation with yourself that starts with "I'm 44 and old and my bones aren't as strong, and I have to run with these saggy ass tits, look at that kid with just a sports bra on etc etc etc." That is me whining on a bad run. thanks for making me laugh
    bakingrunner.blogspot.com

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    1. Oh I totally say that to myself when I see some young hottie run by with just a jogbra and shorts! Of course, I earned these rolls of loose skin...

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  8. The taper can make you crazy! Stay confident and trust your training!
    Poor bottle of wine :-((((((((((

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    1. The TSA will never appreciate it as much as my husband would have.

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  9. good vibes only. love it. SO excited for you, lady. i need to start making my list of people to track at chicago because it is long. and you are right at the top. xx

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    1. I need to do the same thing! I know so many people running Chicago this year!

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  10. I do think it's the taper talking. So many things are out of your control, but you know you can and will have a strong race no matter what! Enjoy the calm before the storm!

    I can't stand the TSA...so annoying about the bags. Sorry you lost your wine...ugh.

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    1. I'm trying to--as they say-- "keep calm"....

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  11. I was stopped in Paris because I had Thing 1's leaded glass paperweight in my purse. They let me keep it though. You are strong, you're MORE than ready. Just let those positive vibes flow and the body will follow. xo

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    1. You really should write a book full of positive running mantras!

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  12. Amazingly, I got scotch and wine through customs and security when I traveled throughout Europe and then back home. I don't understand why the TSA is so strict, especially if it was an unopened bottle! I'm sorry about that - so frustrating!
    Embrace your taper - you deserve the rest and recovery! I am really so excited for you - I think Chicago is just going to be an amazing race for you, you have such a positive attitude!

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    1. Seriously! The bottle was sealed. What was going to be inside it?

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  13. I remember taking beer on planes. One time my carry-on bag went through the scanner and the security agent shouted "We have beer!" and we all laughed, I picked up my bag and went on my merry way. Ah, the good old days....

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    1. This agent was such an asshole. I know she was "doing her job" but it was a sealed bottle. Ridiculous.

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  14. I think the what ifs get to us all, so much crap we can not control, but you did control your training like champ! I do not think I've seen anyone cross train and strength train as strong as you. You got this, i am feeling all kind of good vibes about your race.
    I love that shirt :) oh, and i was thinking about all the bloggers you are going to get to meet up with (I hope you do) ...it's going to be a great day.

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    1. I hope I can connect with everyone too!

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  15. Ugh, TSA is so frustrating sometimes. My son had purchased a jar of honey from a farm stand and we forgot about it. He packed his own bag and we weren't checking it. So the TSA took a jar of honey away from a 10 year old kid that purchased it with his own allowance money.
    On the marathon front - keep hanging in there. The training is in the bank. Don't worry about the few crappy runs in there. Traveling and all sorts of variations to routine can have a huge impact to how your body feels.

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    1. That happened to my niece too. Actually, one time she was patted down as part of a "random" pat-down.

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  16. You are going to have a blast in Chicago and totally rock it! Okay...that gem #2...loved it! Lol You always look amazing before,during, and after you run! Love your shirt! All the best to you, Wendy! :)

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    1. Awww, thank you Artney! Hoping I can bring all of your good vibes to the start line with me!

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  17. I believe the airport has a secret thrift shop were they sell all the shit they steal from us- I can't tell you how many things I have had taken! I remember once they took a pair of scissors from my travel bag that I had for emergency, you know sometimes you have to trim your bangs! They took them when I asked if they were afraid I was going to offer free haircuts on the plane I thought they were going to arrest me! I feel your pain. You are going to do well and have so much fun- good vibes to the finish line, I am sending you some from Florida- enjoy the race!!!!!!!

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    1. Haha! My sister had her knitting scissors taken once, but this trip, she got them through...

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  18. I agree with everyone you will do great! I just try not to stress and try to sleep key word try!

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  19. Sending you great vibes for your race! You are ready and you'll do great!!!

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    1. I think it will be ok---I'm just all about having fun now!

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  20. Sounds like you are more than ready! Going into a race without a goal other than to embrace and enjoy the experience is awesome. That's how I plan to approach NYC next month. :)
    Loved your airport story, sad that they took your wine, but I couldn't help but chuckle imagining that scene. LOL

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    1. All you can do is laugh...it's just so ridiculous!

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  21. Good vibes only - I love it! You sound like your head is in a good space - you're going to do great!

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    1. I feel like I'm in a really good place now. Whatever happens, happens...

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  22. After following your training for a while now, I can say that i'm pretty sure you are prepared! You are going to Rock this race!
    PS, I like your run happy shirt too!

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  23. I am so excited for you. Enjoy your marathon, especially if it may be the last time you do Chicago.... and Big Sur would be amazing... I've added it to my list of runs I want to do someday (so many beautiful places)... You inspire me with all that you do!

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    1. So many runs, so little time, right? May as well enjoy them all...

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  24. Sounds like you have an amazing coach! Sometimes it really helps to let go of specific time goals and just go out with the intention of having fun. Best of luck to you!

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    1. I do have an amazing coach! I'm so lucky.

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  26. I love your note to yourself about smiling during the race. When a course is lined with spectators, I find it difficult to not smile at them, even if I'm struggling. A simple smile can help me redirect a difficult race.

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    1. I always find it amazing how much better a race feels when I'm smiling!

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  27. Hugs. You got this!! My only bit of advice is to trust your training! :)

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    1. And that is advice I can take to the finish line!

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  28. You totally crack me up ;-) That _itch at the airport? Well, she probably needed the wine more than you. UGH. Anyways, you are gonna rock Chicago, my friend. And, given your "letting-go-of-the-sub-4" goal just might ensure you actually achieve it because you will be so much more at ease and relaxed about the journey to the finish line. I am SOOOO excited for you! And, do smile...and smile often! I know too many people who never smile and I feel sorry for them. Go Wendy!

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    1. I'm really really ok with letting go of my goal. I feel so much less anxious!

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  29. 1. You NEED to get that tattooed on your arm. ha!
    2. Traveling is the worst these days. They charge for everything and it still isn't a pleasant experience. I hope you got a new bottle of wine when you got home!
    3. Enjoy your last week before marathon time! You're going to be great!

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    1. Oh yes, there was wine when I got home! :)

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  30. So sorry you had a tough end to your trip, Wendy! You've got this! You have been working your tail off with your runs and your strength training. You've totally got this. Hope you can get to a place mentally where you can trust your taper--I know it's harder than it should be! Go out and kill it in a week! :) xo

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    1. I'm liking the taper...I'm feeling so much less fatigued.

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  31. I really enjoyed reading this post. Doesn't it feel good to take the pressure off? Now you can enjoy this run much more. I have a feeling that you'll be great no matter what. Have an awesome time and best of luck! Can't wait to read about it:)

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    1. I feel like a different person this week! Revising the goal was the best thing I could have done. I know so many people who are running Chicago and it will be fun just to see everyone!

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  32. Have fun again and finish strong is music to this runner's ears.

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    1. I feel such a sense of relief with those as my goals!

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  33. Those sound like great goals and you'll have so much more fun with the pressure off. Have a great race!

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    1. I have so many friends running and spectating, and I'd rather just take it all in! Should be fun!

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  34. You have an awesome coach, I love her attitude. My hopes for you is that you do just that, run happy!! I wish I could take the pressure off of myself, but I want it and I want it bad, lol. I'll be watching the weather and hoping it stays cool for you, nothing worse than a hot humid race. I mean it IS October, we deserve fall racing weather!! Cheers my friend!! You've got this!

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    1. I want it, but I don't want to be disappointed! I ran my first marathon with a time goal and I crashed and burned due to the heat. It took me a long time to forgive myself for that. Sunday is going to be warm, and so that's one more reason for me just to have fun!

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  35. What a disappointment with the wine! I hate it when that happens. And yes I can image the agents taking it home.

    That's the thing with the weather here in Chicago. No never know how it will be. Yes, I remember the 10 miler in April...I was there with you. ;-)

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    1. That's right--wasn't it crazy how it changed in the middle of the race?

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