2018 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Everybody is always looking for that fairy-tale moment. That ultimate comeback. I get it. I wanted it myself. I believed and still believe it was possible. I worked my butt off this season. I made gains. I was set to be prepared to run 6:10 pace. I was totally ready. After struggling to regain my fitness in 2017, not running a single half faster than I split during my debut Marathon at Indy Monumental in 2016, blowing up at CIM with overtraining that was entirely my fault, and then battling 4 months of health issues before scrapping together 6 weeks of training on my way to a 2:48 marathon at Grandmas, I was hoping for a breakthrough. I was capable of it.

It has been really hard mentally to continue to feel so far away from all of my PR’s. I haven’t run a PR in 3 years. After grandmas I had gotten to a place where I could put that aside. Not feeling good at all for 4 months made me grateful to just feel normal again. It gave me momentum for this fall season. Momentum that had me climbing back to where I was in the past. It gave me a positive outlook and a confidence I have been missing for a long time. Yet in the final week of training I let old feelings creep in. A reminder that I was headed back to a race where I was previously a winner and only 13 seconds away from a course record, struck fear in me. I was worried about my weight, worried about what people would think. I was worried about not living up to previous expectations. This time I didn’t hold it in and internalize it, I voiced it to the people who surrounded me with support. I have found that by talking through my fears and anxieties, I can let them go. By race morning I approached the start line with only my goal on my mind. I let go of those external thoughts and looked inwardly at what I really wanted and what really mattered. I wanted the OTQ and that was all.

I raced to that goal. I stayed composed. I focused on not getting ahead of myself. When I felt the pace picking up around me I held back. I didn’t let what other people thought interfere. I was doing it. I took in my UCAN at my first two bottle stops which consisted of my homemade UCAN bites (cinnamon delite UCAN + Maple Cinnamon Big Spoon Roasters Nut Butter + water), and UCAN hydrate. I drank water along the way. I didn’t feel the cold. I focused on each mile (thanks Dr. Swoap!) and not the ones that stretched out before me. When I got to the 20 mile bottle stop I stopped to find my bottle. I knew those few seconds wouldn’t break my race but not getting that bottle could. That last bottle had my UCAN hydrate which I planned to carry along with me as long as I needed. But, my bottle wasn’t there. I scanned through it twice. I turned to continue and caught up to Olivia, the wonderful woman I ran those first 22 miles with. I didn’t panic I just kept going. I wasn’t worried. It was a cool day and the last time I raced in Indy I hardly needed to grab water. Regardless, I planned to grab gatorade at the next stop because I felt I needed the electrolytes and that was my only option left. Little did I know, the gatorade wouldn’t make a difference. around mile 22 or 23 I hit a wall. I slowed and as I split my watch passing through mile 23 I stopped to walk. The rest of the race was spent picking up my run until I felt my body hitting the breaks, at which point I took to walking. I pulled out a continuous run for the last mile or so but it was too late for me. The 2:45 pacer past me around mile 24.5. I was blacking out off and on. I willed myself across the line.

I have always been in awe of how powerful the mind is. The way your body can be in a state of utter chaos but your mind gets you to the finish. As soon as I crossed the line my body let go. I was immediately caught by those at the finish line. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t lift my feet. A tingling sensation crawled up my legs through my feet and I felt the same thing begin to happen in my face. I was wheeled into the med tent hardly able to keep my head up. My arms felt weak and my I couldn’t keep my head in line without it falling forward or back. I was dehydrated and my body temp had dropped to 94. I couldn’t even lift myself out of the wheelchair to move onto the cot. Once the medics got me there I could feel the pain of my entire body. I couldn’t sit still it hurt so bad. They hooked me up to an IV of warm fluids promising it would help the pain. Eventually it did. My body had begun to stabilize as I was fed mustard packets and finally a warm gatorade. It was then that I was reminded of the point within the race when I saw 2:45:38 already etched into the clock. I was reminded of the moments that followed. That final 1.5 minutes that felt like an eternity. I cried.

I had it. This wasn’t a matter of my fitness. My fairy-tale moment was gone. As the reality set in I felt an extra weight being placed on my shoulders. I was in the med tent after my last race for dehydration. It was the same this time but on a day when the temps were barely cracking 40 degrees and I was in a crop top & buns. It had happened in practice once or twice as well. Now 2 years out from my last really good race, I feel like I am running out of time to convince my sponsors that I do still have it. Entry into races will be harder. It was one thing to have one tough race, but after 2 years, this race was supposed to be THE race and I was confident in that.

Maybe these thoughts are just thoughts but nonetheless they are weighing on my mind. I am confident that I will build from this training cycle. Confident that I can get back to my previous fitness. I am on the right track. I am working to separate myself from the negative thoughts. Working to look forward. To focus on really getting things figured out. Why am I struggling to keep my hydration in check? And what can I do mindlessly move forward? By focusing on the running, the sleep, and taking care of my body (thanks to Becki Spellman for that reminder!). Reflecting on everything now, I proved Saturday that I was physically able to what I wanted to do. There is power in that.

Right now I feel so grateful to have the support of Oiselle, UCAN, Jasyoga, InsideTracker, and RDP and the support of the team of people who make it possible. I also have the example of so many strong American women paving the way forward (hello NYC marathon!). Moving forward in the next few days I will be resting, ElliptiGo’ing, working with our Nutritionist Dr. Clyde Wilson, resetting with Jasyoga, and checking in with InsideTracker. I have the tools and the time, thanks to my job as an Appraiser with Apex Appraisals, to really commit to a strong spring season. I’ll be dialing back from the marathon and putting an emphasis on speed to get my legs moving again. My mind needs a break from the marathon and my legs are itching to change it up. I’m stronger from this cycle and that is for certain. I ran the half standard in 2015. If I could do it once, I can do it again. Grandmas may or may not be on the horizon for 2019, only time will tell.

Photo Cred: Beth Gillespie - Thanks for being out there! <3

Photo Cred: Beth Gillespie - Thanks for being out there! <3