Racing is back!

Hi! How are you? It is great to come back to writing after not visiting this space for a few months. I can’t believe it’s been six months since my last race at Revel Mt. Lemmon, which was also the last time I wrote a blog post!

Revel Mt. Lemmon half

Fall racing is coming up quick and I’m kicking it off with a 5k this weekend at The Santa Rosa Marathon weekend. This race was my first marathon in 2016!

Finish line at my first marathon!

I have been considering what my plans for fall racing were and originally I thought I would race a half marathon again for time, but I think I am going to go for one Fall half marathon just for fun, and focus on CIM for the rest of the year. I’m just mentally not where I thought I would be at this point to jump in to half marathon training with a huge time goal.

CIM 2018

I both love and hate marathon training, and since it’s been a long time since I’ve visited it, it will be interesting to see what that looks like this year. Luckily I have the support of my running club Arete, and appreciate how we all cheer each other on in our running journeys! I also have some great friends who, if I’m lucky, I can enlist to do parts of my long runs with me.

What are you preparing for this fall with your race calendar? Are you ready to return to racing?

Revel Mt. Lemmon half recap

Where do I even begin with writing this race recap? My heart is so full and my pride overflowing.

Here’s the scoop. I ran the Revel Mt. Lemmon limited edition race on 2/26/21. I have never run a Revel race, and Revel races are known for their fast courses because their races are all downhill. It was limited edition because there were only 262 spots available on either day of racing (Friday and Saturday events were held). In this blog post I will touch up two different things, my actual experience running the race and my experience running a race during the pandemic.

Where was my head at? I was training to PR my half marathon at this event. In 2019 all of my half marathons were much slower than my PR. I set my PR in 2016 weighing 168 pounds (2:26:01). My half marathons in 2019 ranged anywhere from 2:55-3:35. I am not proud of the runner I was in 2019. I struggled with my weight more than ever and found myself running CIM 2019 weighing 234 pounds. I was slow. I was tired and I was heavy. In 2020 I focused on losing weight and training hard – and then the pandemic hit. I took this unfortunate time as a opportunity to work on myself. I proudly lost 35 pounds and toed the line at Revel weighing 199 pounds. With that being said, I knew that going for a PR weighing 30 pounds more than when I set my current PR was a huge stretch. I kept telling my friends it wasn’t going to happen, and they were so kind the entire training cycle and reminded me it didn’t matter. I was aiming big and even if I didn’t make it I was going to have one of the best races I’ve ever had. So instead of focusing on the end goal as I do often do (my finish time), I told myself it wasn’t going to just HAPPEN. I wouldn’t magically show up on race day and because I showed up I wouldn’t automatically earn a PR. I told myself I had to show up to every day of training. Every damn day. And give it everything. And that’s what I did.

Training for this race I love working with my running coach Coach Patrick at Good Fit Coaching, and though he’s coached me through multiple halfs, four of my marathons and my ultra, I believe deeply that the training plan he gave me to PR my half was the hardest plan I’ve done to date. I had midweek long runs, I had long or hard speed workouts (anything from 400m repeats to half mile repeats depending on the day). I had 14-15 mile long runs on my training plan, I had 11-12 mile long runs on my training plan with middle miles at goal pace. I would open up my Training plan when he put a new week in and really firmly believe I couldn’t do whatever was on my plan. I told my husband multiple times “Coach Patrick is trying to kill me”. He always reminded me I paid for the murder then (ha). I focused on showing up and going for every workout as best I could. I didn’t always succeed at them. Some days my body needed an unplanned rest day, or to cut my run short. I felt particular drained during my first 15 miler on my training plan and only made it to 14.5 miles and I didn’t even do the second 15 miler. I listened to my body and I pushed when I knew I had it in me and I backed down when my body really told me it needed it. I also continued to strength train at Crossfit Santa Rosa, which I think doing a lot of heavy barbell work helped strengthen my quads to prepare for this downhill race. I went into race day feeling as prepared as I could and felt like I executed my training plan very well. I knew I was set up for an amazing race day.

On to race day. I loaded by 6:10 bus for a 7:15 start. At the start, we had a few minutes to get ready and use the restroom etc. It was the fastest turn around to start a race I’ve ever had. As soon as I got out of the Porto potty they said we had to line up. I freaked out and made a mad dash to put my arm sleeves on, get my music on, put my Koala clip on my sports bra, and throw my check bag under the bus.

I was the third person in my wave to go and as soon as they sent me off, I knew I was going to spend the race telling myself not to go out too fast. The downhills immediately sucked me in and I knew that I would pay for it in my hips and my quads if I didn’t take it mindfully. I hit my first mile in 10:29 which was FAR too fast. My goal was to run the first 5k in about 36 minutes, hit halfway around 1:15 and then negative split the end of the race. Once I saw that first mile split I eased up and got into a better pace. I ended up hitting halfway in 1:12:58 according to my Garmin. This was a good thing because I was close to my projected time but it also felt like a bad thing because I was afraid I had gone out too fast. But at that point it was too late to do anything about it.

My running coach advised me to aim for negative split for the race and to kick in at Mile 8. The issue I began to face was that I absolutely could not stomach any fuel. I was planning to take one Maurten Gel every 40 minutes minimum. I packed four – three I planned to use and one extra in case I needed it. I should have taken in 3-4 Maurten gels for this race and my stomach wouldn’t even finish two of them. I had been having some GI issues for about 4-6 weeks before race day and while my doctor eventually helped me navigate them, I ultimately decided I would rather risk having less energy in the tank than risk a bathroom problem with no portopotty around. I did take in Powerade at two aid stations and that helped a bit. I have to wonder if my stomach hasn’t acted up what the outcome of the race finish time would have been but now I know for next time.

As soon as I hit the start of mile 13 I knew I wasn’t going to make my goal. The last 1.1 miles was flat and after all that downhill and no fuel left in me, I couldn’t get my legs to turn over the way I needed them to. It’s so frustrating to see this time on your watch and know during a tough workout you have previously cranked out the pace you need but to just not have it in you when you need it. I crossed the finish line and saw my time of 2:26:15 and I expected to be heartbroken but surprisingly, I wasn’t. I was elated that I had done so well! I didn’t really think I had a PR in me, even though that was my goal. I expected a 2:32-2:35 finish. (For reference my virtual half I did on Halloween 2020 was a 2:47 finish). My Garmin read 13.23 miles in 2:26:15 and if I was going by pace, I would have made my PR (11:03 pace). But that isn’t how real life races go. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day I ran an excellent race. My mantra during the race was “but what if you fly” as a reminder to myself that I needed to focus on succeeding, not on all of my past failures to make my time goal. And I did just that!

The next section of this post will address the COVID precautions from the race company


COVID precautions this race had a number of safety precautions in place for COVID. I felt safe through my entire race experience. Here are the precautions the race took:

  • The race was a very small field, there were no more than 262 spots available to register for.
  • Before the race they sent out a video clearly laying out expectations for race day. That was very helpful for me
  • Each race had a waved start. You were assigned your wave based off projected finish time. Your wave had a bus loading time and you could only get on your waves bus. There were very few people (I think ten or twelve) on my bus and you were required to space out on the bus
  • In order to load the bus you had to submit a questionnaire about your previous 14 days health history and have your temperature taken. They reserved the right to not let you on the bus if something was off
  • Masks were required at all times except if you were racing. You had to wear at bus loading, on the bus, at the start and at the finish. They gave out masks at the bus loading if you didn’t have one and they gave masks as soon as you finished if you didn’t have one. I CHOSE to wear two masks on the bus. I put my cloth mask in my check bag and threw away my disposable mask at my start time (there was a garbage at the starting line and you could throw away your mask right as you crossed)
  • At the start you had maybe 10-15 minutes to use the Porto potty and get ready. Then they called you over to line up in numerical order of bib and sent runners of 1 by 1 with 5-10 seconds between runners. As a result of this, I was rarely passed by runners and when I was it was mostly the fast marathon runners
  • The aid stations only gave out bottles of water or Powerade. No cups. There was no one there handing you a beverage either. You had to grab your own bottle. Volunteers were simply there to push the bottles to the front of the table as needed
  • At the finish you put your mask back on and got your own medal from a table. There was a table of beverages with coolers of drinks and you could pick up your pre-packaged meal (I got a sandwich, chips and a cookie which I didn’t end up eating because I couldn’t stomach anything). There were chairs for you to cool down at but they requested after you felt okay that you got up and left. Anyone who was there for you also had to wear a mask and chairs were set out socially distanced from each other

I felt very safe and would definitely do another race like this!

My two Virtual half marathon recaps

It has been quite a long while since I’ve written a blog post – and even more so it has been even longer since I’ve written a race recap!

I don’t know that I can write this as a full race recap, but I wanted to take a moment to write about the two recent virtual half’s I ran (October 31 and and November 21, respectively). The October 31st half I ran for time and the November 21st half I pushed my pace but wasn’t going for a full out.

What I wanted to share about these virtual half marathons wasn’t so much about the events themselves, but how I treated them more like races and less like long runs.

My virtual Halloween half, dressed as Super Mario

For my October 31st virtual half, I knew I had to push harder because it was my first time running a virtual half. I needed to engage mental tools because I was being faced with the following challenges:

  • I had to route out my own course since no street closures or anything were available like in a regular race
  • I had to carry all of my own water and fuel because there were no aid stations. In a standard half marathon race I can bet on at least 3-4 aid stations being available
  • I had no one around me to help motivate me to push. No pacers, no crowd, no volunteers, no fellow runners. For the ten mile virtual race I did in September I enlisted a friend who is faster than me to run with me. I didn’t even have that for this race.

In order to combat the struggles I knew I was faced with, I planned out the following:

  • I reviewed what my paces were from the most recent in person half marathon I had run when I weighed the same amount I weighed on race day were. I had to go back quite a few races since I had lost a significant amount of weight from the last half dozen or so half marathons I had run. I used that as my starting point for making a pace plan
  • I wrote out an estimate of paces based off of that estimated finish time, built in with negative splits. I charted out paces ranges to hit that picked up about every three miles
  • I told myself I had to take the first mile slow. I did NOT want to come barreling out the gate since I haven’t raced in a while
  • I plotted out a course. It was terribly boring but it helped me get to my goal. I did the same 4.2 mile out and back stretch three times and then in the last (less than) a mile I ran all out on a long fat stretch. This helped mentally trigger when I needed to be pushing a bit more with each completion of a 2.1 mile out or back stretch. I would never want to do this in an actual race but it helped me have the most successful solo event

Plotting this out helped me to be very successful. I estimated a finish of 2:53 or so, and ended up coming in at 2:47. I stuck to my aforementioned plan, however I ended up tweaking throughout the run. When my first mile came in significantly faster than I thought I would be pacing at, even though I was running at conversational pace, I knew I was going to have a good day.

My Santa Rosa Marathon half marathon, November 21st

Now that I’ve learned the value of recovering after runs, I had another virtual half marathon on November 21st but it wasn’t a full all out since I had just done that a few weeks prior. My goals for this virtual race were a little different, which my running coach Coach Patrick at Good Fit Coaching advised me of

  • Warm up
  • Push the second half of the run
  • Really push during the final 5k

I took that to heart. I plotted out a route, took it easy the first five miles gradually getting faster with each mile, then picking it up even more the second half, and pushing the final 5k. It was much colder at this run than my Halloween one (34 degrees or so when I started) so I was glad to not be going all out because I never fully warmed up. Unlike the Halloween event, I plotted out an 11 mile out and back and then went one mile back out and then return to my start. This helped have a change of scenery from the previous run, and kept me mentally engaged.

Do I love virtual races? I won’t sugar coat it – I don’t. I am not a fan at all. However, in this time where there aren’t any in person races to be had, they do help to break up my training and I enjoy supporting my local race companies through virtual events.

I’m taking a break from virtual events and would like to take a full quarter to just focus on training before I tackle 13.1 again. My hope is that it can happen at an in person event some time in the end of Q1 2021. My fingers are crossed for safe racing so I can really put myself to the test.

I can see my fitness level has really improved over the last 8 months and it felt good to get a few bench marks about where I am. My current half PR is 2:26 and I am much closer to breaking than then I thought I was. For reference – I believe that almost all of my 2019 half marathons exceeded 3 hours.

Do you like doing virtual races? Which ones have you done during this pandemic? Cheers to staying active however we can!

Vanessa’s Shelter in Place shout outs

Okay you guys. We have been shelter in place-ing for like 100 days now and I thought I would share some items that have helped keep me sane through this. All of my thoughts are my own, none of this is advertising for a particular company. Just stuff I like.

My Noxgear vest. You’ll notice in almost all of my running photos lately, I am rocking a new accessory – my light up vest. I have converted during shelter in place to a morning runner rather than an evening one. Working from home, when I first started it, made the days feel like they ran long because I never stopped working or signed off. Starting my day with my run guaranteed it would happen, in lieu of waiting until the end of the day. Though my runs happen close to sunrise and my neighborhood is very well lit, I feel it best to keep my vest on in the early part of my run to ensure cars notice me. I recommend 100%.

Pixie Cup. Sorry fellas, you can skip this one. I was extremely grateful to Pixie Cup when they asked me if I would be interested in their menstrual cup product and sent me one. I strive to find more ways to be eco friendly but this was one area I had not taken the leap of faith. Life, and being active, doesn’t stop just because a certain week rolls around. This product has been something I wish I had tried sooner. So grateful for it.

Mary Kay Clean Proof Kit. When shelter in place first started, I found myself with bad breakouts. I don’t have great skin to begin with but I think stress made it worse. My friend Stephanie at Run Strong Run is a consultant and I reached out to her to see if she had any suggestions. She suggested this kit which came a few days after I ordered it. My face cleared up but also now has a much better glow to it. It is easy to use and hasn’t dried me out or anything. I use it once daily.

Sudio ETT headphones Sudio very generously offered me an opportunity to try their wireless earbuds. I use over the ear headphones (doesn’t go in your ear but uses bone conduction for sound) to run, but found those were terrible to use during my work from home days. I needed to block out sound while listening to music because my husband and I were both working from home to start, and tradition over the ear headphones were uncomfortable to use on particularly hot days. These are great for music, conference calls or just winding down in bed after work to watch Golden Girls. Use Fattofitvanessa for 15% off your own pair.

Reading. Okay so this isn’t a thing, but rather an activity, but reading has kept me so sane lately. I have gone through more books than I care to admit to all of you, and am grateful for my local bookstore who has online ordering, ThriftBooks and my local library for doing curbside pickup. I think I’ve read like ten books since Shelter in Place started (and listened to a few audiobooks too!). I keep toying with the idea of writing my own book and the more I read, the more I debate it…

What products or activities have you found useful during Shelter in Place?

Start the conversation.

The other morning I wake up for my morning run. Eyes crusty, body achey. I suit up in my light up gear. It’s dark out, which has now become my happy, alone time while the birds chirp and the neighborhood sprinklers are going.

I am running as the sun comes up. A young, white man run past me at a very fast pace. He startles me with his rapid pace. He is not ill intended, but simply runs so fast I barely register it. I wave. I always wave when I pass someone on my run. He doesn’t wave back because he’s too fast and doesn’t see me. I’m safe and it is okay. I feel safe again in my neighborhood. I continue.

I continue another mile down the road. I see another runner on the road at the corner I’m approaching. I wonder if he feels safe. Not because of age or pace, but because he is black. Social media is flooded this week with stories of racism, murder and hate. I do my usual runner’s wave but he turns to go the the opposite direction and doesn’t see it. Why is it that when I see a white man I don’t worry if he feels safe, but when I see a black man I pray he feels safe? This thought makes me sad and is one I didn’t know I would be struck with at 5:30 am. A reflection on society. As the female runner I am used to questioning if I feel safe. How devastating that I wonder for this man if he does too. I realize it doesn’t matter what hour of the morning it is. I have no right to turn these questions on and off in my brain. If I want to be better and promote change I don’t stop thinking about these things simply because it’s early. This is another tough conversation to have with myself. Racism doesn’t have business hours. I have had friends express their experiences, worries about their children and sleepless nights at all hours.

I have no real point to this. I am starting hard conversations. I want a better world. I seek change. I have asked so many how I can be better and do better. I am starting by talking about things. I am reading. I am watching. I am confused by it all, but that means that I am thinking about things.

I have had tough conversations with myself lately.

  • In what ways have I been wrong in the past? How can I change that?
  • In what ways am I like the people I disagree with? How can I change that?
  • Am I more willing to say the wrong thing but start a conversation so I can learn more and be better than I am than I am willing to stay quiet?

I don’t know how to end this writing today. I am learning and want to be a better voice for change. I’m here, and not in a passive way. I’m here for the first time with the intention to actively be here. Not passively. I hear you and I see you and I stand with you. #BlackLivesMatter

I can’t wait for running to go back to normal.

I feel a little lost without races and group runs. I know they say #RunningIsntCancelled and I’m running enough to keep myself sane while balancing my extreme caution of leaving the house for too long.

But quite frankly I miss races. I miss meeting up at expos with friends and getting to say hi to various race directors tabling at expos that I have met. I miss drinking a pitcher of water and sharing sushi rolls with my running crew while we realize we haven’t looked at the course map at all for the race that’s 12 hours away and have no idea where to expect the rolling hills during our half marathon. I miss race weekend sleepovers where we stand on beds or chairs to take #FlatRunner photos at the perfect angle for social media. I miss races and hearing or saying the words “omg are you so and so? I follow you on Instagram!” I miss medal selfies and my husband asking if I am expecting him to drive home so I can post my race pics to my insta. I miss complaining about how much I spent on a race entry but signing up again the next day when the rerun email comes out. I miss having targets to set. I miss analyzing my fueling and my splits. I miss failing at getting my half marathon PR again but having fun running a race and telling myself it will happen next time.

My most recent race on February 15, 2020
Not sure when I get another one.

I miss weekend running group meet ups where we groan over how many miles are on our training plan for our long run. I miss the phone calls because we decided to run at a new park and someone got lost trying to find it (spoiler alert, it is usually me). I miss the alarms that go off at 4:50 so we can get together and run 15 miles and then stuff our faces with avocado and bacon omelettes with a side of waffles and then wondering where the nearest donut shop is because #runchies. I miss laughing so hard while we run that someone doubles over with laughter. I miss the feeling of squishing my hydration pack bladder to make sure I have enough water, and the excitement of having a toasted marshmallow gu on the long run because it is the best flavor. I miss going to brunch in socks and Birkenstock’s because you can’t bear your running shoes for one more minute but you’re not sure you still have all ten toenails.

I know running is not cancelled but running right now is so beautiful because I still get to, but feels so lonely. I miss my friends and I miss the running community. I am practicing my patience to ensure staying healthy and practicing caution, but I also know that it is okay to be making the right choices while also wishing you didn’t have to.

Cheers runners to health and happiness. ❤️

Easing up during this time of crisis

I’ve resisted writing about COVID-19 and all surrounding it for a while. I had so many thoughts floating in my head and couldn’t pin point how to be eloquent about any of them. Today I saw something that struck me, and finally felt like I was able to put something down to express my thoughts. I felt like writing it would help me more than it might help you readers at home.

The visual I saw basically denoted that during times of crisis and trauma, some people go into hyper drive while others may ease up a little and that both were acceptable ways to handle the situation. I’ve discussed openly on my blogging platforms that I am extremely driven. When I was a kid I remember a specific time where my mom told me that after a musical I was performing in closed, I was hard to be around. I didn’t realize what that meant at the time, but looking back now I realize it was likely because I had no next new goal in front of me, so I’m sure I was whiney, needy and annoying because I had nothing new to look forward to. Fast forward two decades later, and I have never functioned in my adult life without something ahead of me. Whether it is performing in a musical while knowing when rehearsals started for the next one, or training for a half marathon while researching which one will come immediately following that, you could basically say I have no chill. I cannot just settle without something to work towards. I have tried and I tend to fail.

When I read that little social media post I realized that I have, unsurprisingly, gone into hyperdrive. But when I really thought about that, I realized how much I am wearing myself down rather than replenishing myself in this time where self care is just as important as ever. I have almost gone too far opposite of the Instagram memes of people wearing nothing but sweats and eating raw cookie dough for dinner. I have spent my time obsessively list making, to do list making, meal planning, meal prepping, fun in home activity scheduling, calendaring my days down to the hour, forcing myself to indulge in fun in order to not feel sad about everything that’s going on. I realize I’ve maybe gone so far over the edge of trying to stay distracted from it all that I’ve done a little more harm than good for my own mental well being.

Now with shelter in place, my bedroom gets to double as a yoga studio 😏

I’m not saying that the things I’m doing are bad, but what I am saying is that I can spend some time easing up on things in order to take a few more deep breaths and maybe let myself feel sad every once in a while. I have had five races get canceled, am working from home (where as normally I go into the office and love collaborating and saying hi to everyone in my office that I see or pass), am missing my mom’s birthday because I will be required to shelter in place still, am missing pre race weekend sleepovers with friends, and just mourning my traditional schedule of events like going to the grocery store on a whim, running at my local parks (they’re all closed), and not wondering how often and which restaurants I need to get takeout from because I’m overwhelmed trying to support them all so they can stay open.

I am not being hard on myself at all. I often rely on past experiences to drive me through new ones but I’ve got nothing in my memory bank – or anyone else’s, to use as compare and contrast material. The point of this all was that we are all human, this is a freaking hard time right now. I am forgiving myself for not following my running training plan, easing up on being so high strung on schedules and to do lists, and taking some deep breaths and going day by day because that’s all anyone can do.

So, with a big deep breath, I forge forward and remind myself I can do this. We all can. We are in it together, but at least six feet apart. 😉

You won’t learn from your failure if you’re busy beating yourself up.

I sat in a meeting recently where someone was talking out a shortcoming that they had had, and how they had been beating themself up over it when another colleague in the room stated something to the tune of, “you can’t learn from your failure if you’re busy beating yourself up from it”. I instantly felt like a lightbulb had gone off and muttered out loud to no one in particular “that would make a great blog post.”

My social media newsfeed is constantly filled with running related efforts with a few sprinkles of non-running related things (because I basically only follow runners 😂), and there are many people I follow who I admire not because of their constant success, but because of their abilities to strategically analyze what went wrong when they failed so they can learn from it for next time. I always aspire to do that too, though I’m not as skilled as some others are quite yet at it.

I have never beat myself up for missing a target in my running goals. I have, however, always analyzed what was a success and what went wrong because I constantly want to learn from myself. I have learned through many years of analyzing my half marathon PR attempt crash and burns things like if I don’t take in electrolytes before mile 10 I’m going to have a bad race, that I have to be very conscious of the humidity of whatever race I’m doing and plan for my socks and feet swelling accordingly, that there is a certain length of shorts and capris that are acceptable for running and anything shorter or longer will sabotage me, and that I’m notorious for going out too fast and regretting it.

Do you know why I know these things? Because I have taken my failures as opportunity to learn so I can succeed the next time.

If I spent the amount of time being cruel to myself that I now spend really analyzing my successes and my shortcomings every time I miss my target, I would be miserable! I have failed constantly- some times more than others, and in much larger ways than other times. I also have learned that because I am not beating myself up over my failure, I find myself more willing to put myself out there for bigger, scarier and other goals that don’t feel attainable because I know I can take every opportunity as a time to learn, whether success is at the end of the goal or not.

I hope you aren’t spending too much time beating yourself up over shortcomings. You’re awesome and deserve to celebrate as such.

Cheers to success AND to failure,

Vanessa

You know what your goal is, but why is it your goal?

Hi! How are you? First blog post on my webpage for 2020 and it seems appropriate to be about my favorite topic… goals!

I’ve had the same running goal for three and a half years. PR my half marathon time. My PR half marathon was set at the Run Wine Country Windsor Half in May 2016. I ran so fast that my friends who ran the 10k were going to wait for me at the finish line, but I came in 11 minutes faster than I expected to and they were at post race food thinking I would still be running for a bit! Though I began working with a running coach shortly after that race, I also have gained some weight with no huge focus to lose it, and focused my energy on the marathon and my first ultramarathon distance in recent years. But this post isn’t about that, just some relevant background for you.

I’ve thought for many years about WHAT my goals are…. PRing my half, losing weight, learning the entire Napoleon Dynamite Canned Heat dance… but I’ve never really thought about why those were my goals. A little lightbulb went off on New Years Day when I was out on a trail run and listening to Simon Sinek’s Start with Why and I thought, “I know what my goals are, but why are they my goals?”

I have said for a countless number of years that I wanted to PR my half time but I’ve never thought about why. Why would I want such a goal? In reality, it’s an arbitrary number on a clock. I’m not an elite athlete, a goal like that comes with no cash prize or podium finish for my speed. So why do I want it? For the bragging rights? To say I got it done? So my Athlinks profile finally has a change? What’s the real reason?

The infamous PR day in 2016

Let’s use the example of someone trying to quit smoking. Let’s say they say their goal is I want to quit smoking. Great! So they quit cold turkey from that day forward. But without a why of having that goal, what do they lean on when a loved one goes into the hospital and the urge to light up because they’re stressed? What about when they’ve had a drink or two and have newly quit and the smell of someone lighting up at the bar wafts their way and a craving hits? Or what about when they’re cleaning a cabinet and find one last lonely package of cigarettes and they’re struggling to want to throw it away. If they know what their goal is, it’s easy to stay true to it during the times with no struggle or distraction. But if they know why that’s the goal, they have something to lean into when the goal becomes hazy with distraction. If this same person knew their why for quitting smoking was that their friend was diagnosed with lung cancer and they don’t want the same fate, or that their sister is having a baby and they want to quit smoking so they can be around the baby when it comes, or whatever that why may be, it is easier to stay true when it seems hard to.

I have my goals for 2020 and some I know the why, and some I’m still coming to fully understand. But if you’ve set any goals, have you come up with your why?

Cheers to why!

Vanessa

CIM 2019 recap

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. I ran CIM this year for a third time this weekend. It was great! When I was chosen to be an ambassador for this race back in early 2019, I told myself I was going to lose weight and get super fast for my marathon. That didn’t happen! But despite not being where I thought I would be for the race, I still did it and am excited to recap.

For the last few weeks

For the last few weeks I’ve been debating if I wanted to toe the line for the marathon. In fact, I told a bunch of friends at Berkeley half I was debating it and they totally understood. My mind was so tired of training and I was burnt out. I’ve also been in weird head space for the last few months amongst receiving my sisters cancer diagnosis (she’s doing great by the way!), and though I was putting the work in on early mornings, late nights, and weekends and basically had a part time job training for 26.2, I was not mentally present for marathon training. The last four half marathons I had run were totally garbage paces which made me worried about how Marathon day would go. But fear not – it was awesome.

Saturday

Friday night I was NOT in good head space. Long story short, I have to have some dental work done (I lost a filling eating a cold chew on my long run the week before) and decided I wanted to try a dentist closer to where I live. My old dentist is a pretty hefty trek from where I live and work. The experience at the new dentist was overwhelming and I was frustrated with what they were charging me AND they told me they couldn’t get me in for two weeks for my filling! I felt defeated over something that’s so simple on Friday night so I called my old dental office and told them I missed them and even though it’s a drive I wanted to keep going there, which felt like a sense of relief. She got me in to the first open appointment the day after the marathon, and I felt like I could go into race weekend knowing resolve was coming. So I woke up Saturday, did a quick shakeout, and we headed to the expo but not without a pit stop for pancakes!

We were scheduled to work the expo as volunteers from 11-1:30. I enjoyed working the info booth and talking to so many people who I know or follow me on social media!

The expo was at a new location, the Sleep Train Arena, because the convention center is under construction. The expo felt much smaller than normal, which made me miss a few booths I usually see there.

(I was featured in the program as an ambassador!)

Eventually we did a quick lap, got our stuff and picked up some items. We got ponchos because rain was predicted for the race, and I also got some Gu’s because I didn’t want to use chews during my race and headed out to get some pizza for a late lunch.

We checked into our hotel after lunch and enjoyed that it was the closest hotel to the finish. The last two years I have been jealous of people staying at the Hyatt because it’s closer to the finish line than the Sheraton (where I usually stay) so we indulged at the Hyatt!

I laid my clothes out and then we went to the pasta buffet that the hotel had for dinner. It was perfect and low stress! So nice to just walk downstairs, eat as much as we wanted and then go back to our room so we didn’t have to drive around town.

I was specific in my outfit choices because it was going to be humid and lots of rain was predicted. I was nervous.

I promptly tucked myself into bed at 7pm and slept like a newborn all night. It was the best sleep.

Sunday

The alarm went off at 3:30, but then I snoozed for a little while. I threw on some body glide and got dressed.

Then we got on the bus at 5:15. The bus ride took 59 minutes. The bus takes you from the finish to the start. If you think 59 minutes was a long ride… the run was gonna be even longer 😂

I was rushing like crazy at the start. I drank my UCan, two potty breaks and dropped my gear bag just in time for the race to start. I was in the last wave which took I think 8 minutes to go through the start after the first corral, but it all whirled by.

My first few miles were good – I mean really good. I mean, I was like who the hell has inhabited my body good. I had a small hope that based off those times I would PR my marathon time but I knew it was unlikely because I would slow down at the end.

I chose to fuel with one Gu every 40 minutes and it was perfect to keep my energy topped off.

I hit the halfway mark at 3:10:xx and I really expected to hit it at 3:20, so that was awesome.

The sweeper reached me about 14.75 miles in to the race to let me know that things were going to be broken down as he passed them and I might have to move to the sidewalk if streets opened up. He was a really nice guy and told me I was doing great after I joked with him that I needed a compliment from him. Luckily for me no roads opened up after that and the only things broken down when I got to them were mile markers, which was okay since I had my Garmin.

At 17.75 miles though I had the most horrible running experience. I felt a giant squish in my right shoe. I had grown a blister on my pinky toe and it popped during my run 😖 and it was the MOST painful thing ever. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep going but I was fine after a little while. Then it happened on my left foot about 21 miles in. GROSS AND SO PAINFUL.

I slowed down significantly towards the end of the race. It started to rain, my feet were a wreck from the blister debacle and my quads and hips were so sore and tight. I kept moving forward because stopping wasn’t an option. Some rain kicked in near the 21/22 mile mark and that was not easy either, so I briefly put on the poncho I packed but decided it was too warm for it and tossed it.

Eventually I hit the stretch where I knew I was coming in to the finish line and I tried to give more but I was done at that point, so I chose to stay consistent and finish as best I could. Luckily for me that was great and I ran my 2nd fastest marathon today!

Throughout the race I had the urges to text my friends or message them for motivation but I chose only to message two of my friends each two times to give them updates. I wanted to learn to fight with my own mind this time around. Last year I put out a Facebook call to action for friends to send me messages to help get me through but this year I wanted to be the one doing it for myself. I’m really proud of that.

Finishing was so amazing and I was so proud I stuck with it to finish marathon number 5!

It was also Mr. Ftof’s 5th marathon and my friends Mike and Kerri’s first marathon!

The walk back to the hotel was literally the longest walk ever. Thank goodness I stayed at the close hotel 🤪. The hotel staff wouldn’t wheel me to my room on a luggage rack when my friends asked 😂 but gave me hearty congratulations.

Back at the hotel Mr. FtoF got us burgers and fries and that was amazing. That’s my favorite post race meal! I don’t eat much red meat but immediately after a marathon (and my one ultra) a bacon cheeseburger with a side of fries has always been my go to.

Today was amazing and I’m so glad I showed up. Though I’m not ready to 26.2 again anytime soon, I put my name in for the Chicago Marathon lottery ages ago and hope I get picked when they announce on Thursday!

Thanks for all of your love and support through my journey. This was a great day and I’m grateful to all who said hi to me at the expo or on the course, or virtually cheered for me. You guys rock!

Did anyone else run CIM 2019?

Cheers runners!

Vanessa