Monday, May 27, 2013

a different week in may

This week I did some different things.

monday 9 miles at Custer with Joe.  We ran the green loop and ran into a storm and it was scary.  by the time I got back to Kalamazoo it was sunny again, so I hopped over to the arbs and got another solid 5 in.
tuesday 4 miles in the morning with Katie at Al Sabo, and then 7 miles at night at Al Sabo with Joe and Erin.  This was one of those runs that is really good for the soul.  Instead of running it was laughing and finding our way by moonlight.  We all forgot our headlamps, but running by moon is no strange act for the three of us.  Absolutely beautiful night.
wednesday lower body workout.  slammed the legs.  realized I was starting to get sick.
22 mile night run with Jesse and Mike at Yankee.  We started around 9:15 and ended shortly after 2.  This run, unfortunately, simulated everything that it was supposed to for the 100.  My legs were completely fucked, my body was so fatigued I felt like I was going to flop on the ground at any moment (due to the sickness, I believe), my breathing was terrible (also due to the sickness) and for whatever reason I had to stop and take a shit twice on this run - which is fine, but just odd.  During the second loop everything in my lower body hurt with every single step, and Jesse threw out the reminder that "you can only hurt so much".  Thank god for those boys.  I love them.  If I was alone I would have been in tears and called it after the first 11 miles.  They made my week.  I almost typed something like "I haven't laughed that much on a run in so long" but I actually laugh A LOT on every run because I run with amazing people.  However, I haven't run for 4.5 hours with other people in a long time, so to continually make me giggle, I think, is awesome.  They both make the thought of going vegan entertaining, but I think I will wait until after the 100 to do so.  So, anyway, this was a really good training run.
thursday I believe I took this day off.  I slept in a bit due to the late night before, and had to work later.  I also felt 42 times shittier than the night before.  It's nothing serious but a hella cold, and I'm a bit of an extremist so when I'm a little sick I'm actually dying.
friday upper body workout.  Still really sick, so we kept the weights lighter but still got a good workout in.  Then we (trainer Lauren and I) went to hot yoga.  Holy hell, what an experience.  I really liked it, and was hoping it would help me sweat out whatever virus is inside of me and clear my sinuses.  It didn't.  I was also hoping it would help get my soreness out.  It didn't.  I'm looking forward to trying it again when 100%.  However I did feel like a rockstar compared to everyone else when doing planks and leg lifts.  :)  So solid.
saturday 8 miles at Custer with Joe and Steve.  This was another really-good-for-the-soul run.  We ran the red loop and ran the trenches at the end real speedy because that's my favorite part :)  This was my first run in the 1010s and I am so in love with them.  This is probably because I am so used to my 110s that have absolutely no tread whatsoever on them anymore and they're so ripped up it's teetering the line of hilarious and absolutely pathetic.  Anyway, I feel like there's just a little bit more protection under my feet (again probably because they're just not the 110s).  The upper is amazing, just like the rest of the shoe.  After trying the Pearl iZumis I realized I really cannot run in anything like that.  I've tried other minimal shoes as well, but hot damn New Balance has just got it going on.  They know exactly what to do with their minimal line.  110s - fucking amazing.  Road zeros - fucking love them.  Trail zeros - pretty much just socks but still so awesome.  1010s - blew my mind.  They fit perfectly and feel even better.  Thanks, New Balance!
sunday 6 miles at dirty herd.  No one fun was there besides me and Joe due to the holiday weekend.  Since the store was closed it was "officially unofficial".  Not even Shawn was there :( BUT of course Joe and I had a blast, and we went out on the planks for a little bit, too.  The weather was also nice, and the shirt came off (of course).  Wonderful way to wrap up a nice little week, despite being sick.

total mileage 61 including a night run and hot yoga.  Decent.

My mom just asked me if I was blogging about how wonderful she is.  She's wonderful.

Monday, May 20, 2013

a night late on stagnation in may

I'm taking an acting class this summer, and for those of you that have known me since high school, you probably remember that I was incredibly active in the theater program. It's been a lot of fun getting back to it, and I'm taking more away from it now than I ever thought I would. In the past few class periods we've been focusing a lot on forward motion. When you are on stage, whether working with a partner or solo, you have to be moving forward. If you are stuck in a moment, the audience loses it's attention with you and the connection you have established is gone. It's possible to get it back, but if even for a moment or two, it's gone. We read a chapter out of Michael Shurtleff's book Audition and since I know most people reading this aren't interested in reading it, I'll paraphrase. The chunk we read was Shurtleff explaining how important it is for the actor to be fighting for something.  The actor should not be fighting against something (ie: 'i want you to stay standing' vs. 'i do not want you to sit down'. You should be fighting for the person to stay standing). There should always be a positive goal on the forefront of the actor's mind to achieve and once you get it, you can have a fraction of a moment to silently celebrate, but almost immediately you must find a new goal and work towards that. You must always be fighting for something. In the middle of a 4 mile trail jog I realized that this stage strategy has been the way I have lived my life for quite some time now.

I got my first pair of running shoes for my 22nd birthday (which is in the month of September). I ran my first 5k in December 2011, my first half marathon in the following May, and my first marathon in July.  I had only been running for a year (and two weeks) when I ran my first ultramarathon of 50 miles in September of 2012. Shortly after I set my sights on this 100 coming up in 5 weeks (holy shit). If that sounds boastful, then I write my apologies, for I'm just trying to set the reader that may not know me up to understand what I'm writing. I had set my eyes on a goal, attained it, and set a new one. I have always been fighting for something.

What I fight for is forward momentum. If I'm not working towards something, I feel stagnant. If I'm not training for a race/distance, I have a hard time lacing up my shoes. This, in turn, has helped me drive forward in other aspects of my life. I've set higher goals for myself and I've shoved anyone who gets in my way to the side with the absence of an apology.

I am absolutely terrified of being stagnant. I cannot understand people who settle and get comfortable in their lives and stop moving forward. I cannot understand people who float by day to day doing the same god damn thing with no further goal in mind. I loathe the idea of returning home at night and knowing that the next day will be the same, or that the next year I will be in the same place doing the same things and talking to the same people and living the same life. Why do people do that? Why do you stop fighting? What happened to your positive action? Again, do not misunderstand me when I say 'positive action' as optimistic pep.What I write is a meaning of positive action as in forward momentum. I have already planned on attending grad school because that limbo of post-graduation-searching-for-a-career-that-probably-isnt-even-there-right-now scares the fucking shit out of me. Serving tables every day? No way. Not my style. The only difference I'm making in that industry is people are paying me to give them food and pour their wine. Positive action? Not on my scale. Much like being on stage, when you're not moving forward you're losing the connection.  So get out of there. Do something different. Change something or maybe even change absolutely everything and I can promise you that you will feel more like you are living.

I can already hear the argument brewing of "I have a career and I'm comfortable in it and I'm doing what I love". Whatever. Good for you. Except you're probably not. If you're in a field where you directly help people (or the environment) (I am not talking about professions where you make people feel good about themselves, either.  I'm talking about actually helping people) then perhaps you are familiar with this feeling of fighting for something that I am talking about. You are fighting for people. You are fighting for a positive change in some way.  If you're a businessman or a banker or (my personal favorite) have a hand in the oil or plastic industry, go fuck yourself.  go plant a fucking tree or something because you actually have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about.

Running gives me an outlet to not be stagnant when I feel as though the schooling will never end.  I'd often rather throw my head through a wall than have another pretentious fuck speak rudely to me when I'm opening a wine bottle for them or serving them a $45 entree. I am fighting for myself to get through school and better the world, and running makes that real. I fight for longer distances, and when the distance appeal wears off I'll fight for faster times. Stagnation leaves my brain as I'm literally running, but also using this sport to make the best bonds with the best people that I've ever met, and having the opportunity to see parts of the world that I probably never would. Instead of driving on the Black Hills I'm going to be running through them. That's a really wonderful way to see the world. It's a really wonderful way to live life.

so what are you fighting for?
And fight hard. Good God, give it all you've fucking got. And when you feel like you're maxed out, dig deeper and give it more. Attack the shit out of whatever you are fighting for. Please. Attack it like you're fighting for your life.  Because that is, actually, exactly what you're doing.

++a week in training
monday 3 miles solo, 4 miles with Joe
tuesday off.  walked around Cedar Point for like 10 hours.
wednesday 6 miles at urban herd.  the boys wanted to race towards the end so we brought it in real fuckin' hot with something that had to be like sub6s, no joke.  literally the last mile was sub-6.
thursday 6 miles with Katie at Al Sabo.  Planned on doubling that with Lauren, but she overslept :P  been there, done that.
friday full body workout.  super fucking intense.
saturday 10 at the arbs.  a child peed on me.  that's what this blog post was originally going to be about.  look for that gem later.
sunday off.  overslept for the run and then worked 10.5 hours.  F dat.
total miles: 29?  really?  i'm doing this all from memory this week but I could have sworn it was more than that.  Oh well.  Point is, recovery week from the 50 went well and I am feeling fly as fuck.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

on 50 miles in gnawbone in may

I love Running Fit's Dances with Dirt series.  I've now run 3 out of the 4 races, with my first marathon being at Devil's Lake last June, my first 50 mile being last September, and now another 50 yesterday at Gnawbone.  These aren't your "normal" trail races that you get around here.  They're dirty.  They take you through the woods with no trail, leaving you to run from ribbon to ribbon, through whatever terrain might be in your way.  They make you walk up a river that is up to your waist for a quarter of a mile.  They make you climb walls of mud on your knees and forearms - not even your hands, because you need more leverage than that.  This isn't like some stupid Tough Mudder event where they create hard things for you to overcome, they just go out and find nature's hardest climbs in the area and make you figure out a way to get up it.  At Gnawbone there was a climb that was straight up a wall of mud and rocks, which was impossible to run/walk, you just had to climb on your hands and forearms.  We had to do it twice, and the second time I slipped and slid down more than half of it.  This is why the DWD races are so fun.

I didn't have a place to stay at Gnawbone, mainly because I couldn't bring myself to pay for a hotel room that I knew I wouldn't get much sleep in.  I would have camped, but I don't have a tent, nor do I know how to set up a tent, because every time someone has tried to teach me I end up not paying attention while they do it for me.  So, I slept in my car.  And it was awesome.  I got the best sleep that I've ever gotten before a race.  I have an SUV, so folding down the back seat and making a bed out of pillows and blankets was no problem.  The race director welcomed me to park my car by the start/finish (despite the "NO CAMPING HERE" rule) for the night.

I lined up in the front of the pack  I'm not really sure why, as I knew I wouldn't stay up there.  The 50k and 50 mile people started together, so it was a pretty big group.  The race started and not five seconds after I hit "start" on my watch, I went out chasing boys.  I have no idea why I do this, and I really should make an effort to stop.  Perhaps it's because I run with a lot of boys and I'm used to having to keep up with them, but it's more so likely that I have incredible race adrenaline and instantly want to go, go, go.  The first 18 minutes was an uphill climb.  Not only is it naturally muddy, but it had rained all night before.  Someone behind me lost their shoe due to the deep, sinking mud.  I stupidly ran this entire uphill.  It was a waste of energy that I should have been conserving, but I was having a blast, so it didn't really matter.  As my eyes constantly scanned for higher, harder ground, I thought of Jesse's blog and had a little laugh to myself (the name of his blog is 'In Search of Solid Ground').  I clocked in the first 10 miles pretty fast, meeting a very kind woman named Nancy who was running the 50k.  Nancy thought it was absurd that I was driving back to Michigan after the race, and insisted that I stay in a cabin with her and all of her friends because they had an extra bed.  Nancy also has a tendency to go the opposite way of the pink flags and miss turns, so when I let her go I was a bit concerned for her.

After the 10 mile aid station I knew I had to reel it in if I was going to run this race effectively.  I slowed up and met up with three other women, one of them named Steph who is awesome.  The other two were older women from Lansing, and we were all 50M.  Steph was wearing the 1010s and I was in the 110s so we started talking about shoes, and I found out her and her husband own a running store in Bloomington, not far from the race.  Around 3.5 hours in, I fell.  Not surprising, I know, as I'm known for taking tumbles on the trails.  However, I've never fallen like this before.  Every time I've fallen I've never gotten hurt, despite the cuts and bruises, but this time was different.  My left toe caught a root and I fell, and a stump found its way to the inside of my right knee, shoving itself between my knee cap and that other huge bone (I have no idea what it's called).  This hurt so fucking bad.  Tears instantly sprung into my eyes and I'm not sure if it's because of the actual pain, or the thought that I would have to drop from the race and take a DNF.  Steph helped me up and the other two women kept running (whores), and she helped me walk.  It felt a little better after a few steps, and I began to jog it out.  After about a half mile the pain was gone.  We caught the two women that we were with and passed them.  Somehow they kept getting ahead of us, as we kept passing them more throughout the race.  Steph and I ran together for 25 miles, but more like 27, as we missed a turn and went about a mile off course.  At one point this guy (I think his name was Greg?  I can't remember) came up behind us and told me he recognized me from the ultra in Hell, which I thought was pretty cool (the tattoo on the back of my neck makes it easy for people to recognize me, I think).  He was a lot of fun, and he was with us for about an hour I think, until he turned off to go finish the 50k and we kept going.  I hope I see him again, he was really nice.  Steph started to pull ahead around 35 and I let her go.  This is where I threw on the music.  I know what you're thinking, "But Kels!  You don't run with music, you always say that's not what running is about for you."  And that's true.  But it got damn lonely out there all by myself, and I was prepared for that, which is why I had my adorable little ipod shuffle ready.  I can handle being alone with my thoughts and footsteps, that's one of my main joys I get from running, but sometimes it gets boring after 5 hours.

At the aid station for mile 40, the volunteers told me I was in second.  I was a little shocked.  I knew Steph and I were towards the front but I didn't think we were actually in the front.  I confirmed that Steph was the one in front of me, just to make sure she hadn't gotten lost (again).  On Thursday morning I ran with Erin, and we had discussed 50M strategies.  She had told me to hold it all in until 10 miles to go, and she said "Drop the hammer at mile 40.  You can hurt for 10 miles.  You can hurt really, really bad for 10 miles, you've done it before."  So I did.  I was on my merry way.  It felt like my legs were quivering waiting to let loose, and I let it happen.  And it was awesome.  I flew over the next 5 miles and when I came to the next aid station, with 5 miles left to go, they said "Hey, your friend is just a few minutes ahead of you!"
--The 50M people ran the first 25 with the 50k people, and then split off from them and ran most of the first loop again, but with some moderations.  So, a few of the aid stations had already seen Steph and I together the first time through, and assumed we were already friends as we were talking and laughing and keeping pace with each other.

I didn't catch Steph, and I kind of didn't want to.  I thought she deserved to win.  I did keep pushing, though, and I was amazed at all that I had left to give.  I was absolutely amazed at myself.  I by no means and trying to gloat or sound egotistical, it is just refreshing to know that all of this training is paying off the way I want it to.  At the start of the last mile, you come out on top of a ridge that overlooks the valley where the start/finish is.  I stopped here and just took this in for a moment.  It was absolutely beautiful.  The entire course was beautiful.  I couldn't believe that this place was in Indiana, because I felt like I was in the mountains in Tennessee or something.

[EDIT: I ended up taking third in this race. The results were disputed, and apparently someone was ahead of us but didn't check in to the last two aid stations. How DWD allowed this I'm not sure. But, not complaining.]

--The elevation of this course is exactly half of the Black Hills 100.  With half the distance and half of the elevation, it was the perfect training run.  (Just to give you an idea of the "hills" I was running)
I then went straight down from the ridge.  I started to run and ended up sliding down on my left side for a good portion of the way.  I thought it was mud, but once I fell in it I realized it was clay.  No complaints.
After getting down, it was a relatively flat jog to the river, where we had to wade upstream for about a quarter mile.  The water was up to my waist and pretty fucking cold.  It helped wash the mud off of all my scrapes and cuts, but what I really noticed was that it felt really good on my knee.  Shit.
Out of the river the finish was about 2 tenths (if that) of a mile away.  I finished with a 10:25.  Considering last year's winner was over 11 hours, I was pretty happy with this time.

I was mainly happy because I felt amazing.  I had no mental low and no physical low (besides maybe my fall) the entire race.  My upper body felt completely solid and never fatigued (which has always lead to my downfall in the past).  My legs, though tired after the hard climbs (duh), were in superb shape.  I never got the dead-legs-heavier-than-shit feeling.  I'm attributing this to weight training and diet.  Weight training has helped me immensely, and I can't thank Lauren (my trainer) enough.  Ultra training, for me, is more than logging in the miles.  I get them in, obviously, but the muscle building that weight training is where most of my strength has come from.  I started lifting to supplement my running, and it has actually become just as important as the miles.  The diet that she introduced me to and helped me tweak has also been a major factor.  Yes, it sucks not being able to eat like I used to, or like most people do.  Yes, it sucks not being able to drink (I'd kill someone for a double IPA most days).  But the payoff is worth it.  Feeling that amazing after a 50 miler, and having that confidence booster for the 100... ugh.  There's nothing like it.  And I needed it.  I needed to know that it's okay to trust my training, and that I'm doing it right.  This 50 mile put me at 98 miles in 6 days, which is the highest that my mileage has EVER been by quite a bit.  And to feel great after that kind of a week... is awesome (for me).

My knee is in a lot of pain and still very swollen, despite the Aleve and icing.  However, I don't think it's a real injury, I think it's just inflammation or whatever.  I'm not worried about it, and I'm sure it will be fine by tomorrow.  The drive home sucked, as sitting in a car for 5 hours was the last thing I wanted to do.  What was even worse, though, was the shower.  I didn't chafe or anything (usually never do), but the scrapes/cuts/gashes burned like a motherfucker.  I think I cried a little, actually.

But, ya know, it's not a trail race if you don't finish bloody, muddy and giggling.
At least it's not for me.  :)

++Mileage breakdown
Sunday: 26.2 Kalamazoo Marathon
Monday: 3 mile shakeout
Tuesday: 6 miles with Lauren (Maran) at Al Sabo
Wednesday: 3 in the morning, 4 at Urban Herd
Thursday: 6 with Erin
Friday: Off
Saturday: 50
Total weekly mileage:  98 (.2)
I'd go out today but this fucking knee is really handicapping me.  I feel great.  I feel healthy.  I feel strong.


Monday, May 6, 2013

kalamazoo 26.2 in may

I hate that I didn't write this last night.

On Saturday night I got roughly one hour of sleep (and that is rounded up from a more realistic number of 47 minutes).  It may have been pre-race jitters, it may have been Cohen be annoying, it may have been something else.  I wasn't worried about it, as I sleep like shit every night before a race anyway, and at the very least I chalked it up to be good training for the hundo, running on little sleep.  I met Katie and Matt at the gas station across from the start, to make sure I could park by them because I'm a freak like that.  We had over an hour to kill before the start of the race, so I chilled with Becca (the New Balance rep for our area) under her New Balance tent.  She's so fucking awesome, I'm glad she works for a company that is compatible with her awesomeness.  She also threw me some free swag.

Like I have previously posted, Kalamazoo Marathon was nothing but a training run for me.  I would never run a road marathon and back it up as "great training", but you can't not buy into the Hometown Marathon.  It's just too fun!  Katie was also using this as a training run, as she is setting up to race Bayshore up in Traverse City in just a few weeks.  I made it up in my mind that we would come in around 4 hours, 1) because I was not about to be out there all god damn day running the god damn streets of Kalamazoo that I've run 100 times and 2) I knew that this time would be completely capable for Katie, even though she might not realize it by herself - which lead to 3) I knew I could get her there, because I know her as a runner, and she's so much stronger than she thinks she is.

Lining up for a race is one of the most intense feelings of excitement.  It's also where the pacer sets up the person they're pacing for for success.  I know this because Joe Trupp did this to me last year without me even realizing it, and after the success I brought I realized the benefits of it.  I aimed for the 4:15 group, and after realizing who the official pacer was for it, I inched us forward to the 4:00 group.  The gun went off, and I realized that Katie Wittenberg saying "I don't get race adrenaline" is the biggest lie that she has ever told me.  Actually, it's probably the only lie she's ever told me.  ...But still.  As we were cruising down Gull Road I had to say (MULTIPLE TIMES) things like "Easy, Wittenberg" or "Hey now" (as I slowed us up) or just simply "Katie slow down".  I can't recall this without laughing out loud.  At this point we had put some major time on the 4:00 pace group, which we both acknowledged would probably haunt us in about 10 miles.  I had to pee badly, and there was a porta-potty (spelling?) on the Kalamazoo Mall, which is so foreign to me because on trail races you just duck into the woods.. :)  Anyway, I jumped in and peed as fast as I possibly could.  I didn't want us to lose time, even though we weren't racing.  I peed so fast that I literally ripped my underwear yanking them back up.  I am not, in any way, shape or form, joking about that.  I ripped my underwear for Katie Wittenberg.

The first half of the race went perfectly, despite the god-awful parts of the course such as 1) Stadium Drive.  Wow, what a horrible road to run down.  2) WMU's Engineering Campus.  Wow, what a terribly boring loop.  They're both great places to gain some speed because of the flatness, but when it's so boring like that it's incredibly hard to reach another gear.  At least it is for me.  This is one of the many reasons I run trails.  I took my one and only gu around here, on the Engineering Campus which I believe is about 10 miles in.

Let me just talk about something for one moment here.  You fucking road runners are unfuckingbelievable.  Okay, wait, stop, let me preface with the fact that this does not apply to every road runner that I know.  I love some of you with huge chunks of my heart, and the following does not apply to you, and you know who you are.  It does, however, apply to most of the rest of you.  I picked up 9 gu packets off of the ground in the matter of one hour, and these were only packets that were directly in my way.  I saw so many more laying everywhere, and eventually I got sick of picking them up.  TWICE people right in front of me just fucking threw them right on the ground.  Matt reminded me that there is course pick-up after the race, but that is NOT my point.  My point is, that the people who do this, are the same fucking people that do this to my trails.  Yes, I know I just said my trails and entitled myself to them and that seems so egotistical to you but for once, I do not care.  I run those god damn trails every fucking day and I pick up after you lazy fucks.  I pick up your empty gu packets, or your stupid plastic water bottles that you decide to bring out to the trails, not to mention your gatorade bottles or stupid other shit that you think it's acceptable to just THROW TO THE SIDE.  You're probably thinking "But Kels, I'm racing and I don't have the time or energy to put the packet back where I got it from," and I get that.  To a point.  I understand that for elite runners, people who are literally using every single muscle in their body to its fullest potential to reach an amazing time, people who spend every day and night training, not just a long run on the weekend and a few static runs during the week.  If you're out there running a 3:30 or a 4:00 marathon and you think that you don't have the time to stick an empty gu packet back into your pocket or handheld or WHATEVER, then you are an idiot.  I hope recycling your cans for $.10 makes you feel that much better about yourself because you're too fucking lazy to take care of a gu packet that you have the time to take care of it for.  For the love of God you can fucking hang on to the thing until the next aid station and throw it away like the responsible person that you are supposed to be.  Don't throw down a fucking gu packet in front of me like you don't have the time to take care of it.  You're not sprinting.  Jesus Christ one time one of them was WALKING in front of me.  Unbelievable.  Like I said, I know some people don't do this, but a lot of you do.  And most of them that do it don't just do it on road races where people clean up after them, they do it on the trails, and they do it on their long training runs.

So the first half went really well.  Going through Winchell neighborhood was SO.  FUN.  Wow, you guys are amazing.  I shall say that about all of Kalamazoo, the crowd support on this race was just so awesome.  I love every single one of you that was out there.  Thank you so much.  But, I do have to single out the Winchell neighborhood for their awesomeness.  A bacon and pancake station?  Streamers lining the roads?  You guys rock.  Going down Bronson Blvd was a welcomed, looooong downhill, and this is also where I met Erin!  She had run to the race, raced the 5k for speed work (she took third) (she is amazing) (she is an animal), and then was running home, but she said she'd hit the marathon course backwards to find me, and she did!  It had to seem like something out of a movie, as I was screaming "EEERRRIIINNN!!!" while we were running towards each other, and engulfed in a huge hug.  She ran a bit with me and told me our dear friend Michelle (you can see a picture of us from awhile ago on the 'read this first' page of my blog), was in first for the Marathon.  First!  But, we all knew that she was going to win, because she is Michelle, and she is amazing.  It seems that she keeps her training quiet and then just explodes at races, takes the win with a huge smile and a large dose of modesty.  So, that was uplifting to hear!  We chatted for a bit and then Erin turned off to head home.  After this was when things went downhill.  And I don't mean the elevation of the course (though that would have been nice).

I knew Katie was getting inside of her head.  That is her biggest battle.  Running is mental, and once you get into a dark spot it can, quite often, be impossible to come back.  This is what I was supposed to stop from happening.  This is why I was here.  I kept asking her how she was doing every so often.  I made sure to ask her how her body was doing, and every time she said "fine", followed by her saying her mind wasn't doing so well.  I tried to think of things to say, stories to tell, anything.  But NOTHING was coming to mind.  Every aid station, from then on (about mile 16?  17?) I told her, repeatedly, to take 3 cups of something.  It didn't matter what - water or gu brew.  Just three cups.  I was also using this strategy for myself, making sure at least 2 that I took were of gu brew, as I had stopped taking gu after just the one.  I was riding the line between being fine and bonking, but I felt confident that I was getting enough calories from the gu brew.  Also, about this three cup thing, it's something that Joe told me during last year's 5/3rd River Bank 25K.  He started making me take 3 cups, no matter what they were.  It seemed absurd to me because I didn't feel like I needed 3 cups of something.  I ended up crushing the shit out of that race, so I try to implement the 3 cup rule, especially when you start to think that you don't need it, or, more so, when you think you might not be able to stomach it.

I started to tell Katie things that I say to myself when I feel overwhelmed by my training.  When I say overwhelmed by my training, I mean days where I feel like I can't go on, and I never want to run again, and it is all pointless.  I say them out loud.  I have the sentence "Remember why you started." written on my bathroom mirror.

I told her how the mind quits sooner than the body does.  I reminded her that her body felt fine.  This marathon was easy for her muscles, it was just hard for her brain.  She is so strong, and despite the fatigue she may be feeling, she was still running.  She had not walked one step.  We came up to Kindleberger (or whatever it's called) Park/Hill and I said "Do not walk this."  And she replied with "No.  I'm not going to.  I'm not walking this hill."  A lump swelled up in my throat because I felt like I was going to burst into tears from being so proud of the girl next to me.  Here she was, battling with herself inside of her head, and saying those words right out loud.  Do you know how strong of a person that takes to do that?  Do you?  No, probably not.  So I'll tell you:  Really.  Fucking.  Strong.
We passed 5 men and 2 women on that hill.  All of them were walking.

Once up that, there were a bunch of children.  Immediately I cringed, because that is what I do at the sight of a bunch of children, but they were holding out flavor ices!  I said to Katie "My god!  Ice cold sugar, what could be better?!"  And we downed those fuckers.  I started to panic because I didn't know what flavor to take because it is obviously impossible for me to make decisions like this, but I knew we couldn't stop so I forced myself to just grab the next one that I could.  I usually don't even like the green flavor, but damn it tasted good.  I took Katie's wrapper for her - NOT because I was afraid she would throw it on the ground, because she would not do that, but I know how annoying it is to be beat down and have to hold something while running.  My right hand was awfully sticky after holding onto them for a mile.

Next we came up to Spring Valley Lake Park Avenue Trail.  I have no idea what it's really called, I do believe it's Spring Valley something, and it is a paved trail around a small lake.  There's a tent on each side of the lake, which is a real mind fuck being able to see where you have to run - all the way around a lake.  Katie agreed.  We had about 4 miles left to go.  Actually, under, I think.  A 5k?  Something of the sort.

Katie fucking started to crush it, and I couldn't even stop her.  I tried, too.  I said (more than once) that
"people train all winter and all spring for this, and here you are, using it as a training run.  That kind of makes you a fucking boss."  And when THAT didn't work, as we were going up the hill at the end of SVLPAT, I said "Katie, slow down.  There is NO need to push yourself right now, this is a training run for you.  This is not your race, your race is in a few weeks.  There is no point to pushing like this."  It worked for about 32 steps.  So then I was all uuuggghhh fine, I guess we're bringing it in fast.  And we did.  Once you have the finish line in site, there's no control over what your feet start to do.  Running down that last little part of Gull Road and turning to the finish was something really amazing.  I had just helped my best friend PR her marathon time by (an official) 19 minutes on a god damn training run.  I have never been so proud of someone.  Never.
Here's a picture of us finishing:
photo by: James Buck.
This was on mlive/kalamazoo gazette, in their article "19 Kalamazoo Marathon Pictures You Don't Want To MIss".  Is that not the most adorable thing?  How can you look at that and not go "OH JESUS I LOVE THAT."  Sometimes the hobby jogger just shines right through me ;D

Back to a summary of MY race report:  I felt so fucking fantastic throughout this entire race.  I interacted with crowd support as much as I could because I had so much energy, my body felt amazing and my mind felt great, too.  It does my brain some good to know that I am so incredibly overtrained for the marathon distance, as I should be at this point in my training for the 100.  I'm doing the DWD Gnawbone 50 miler this coming Saturday, and for once in my life I think I am going to try to go for the win.  Just because I have admitted that, I'll probably end up having a terrible race and pulling something pathetic like a 12 hour 50 miler.  Haha.  Nothing like jinxing yourself in writing!  But seriously, it was a huge confidence booster to know that I can stroll out a respectable time for a marathon right now.  My training is going quite well.  I am obviously doing something right.

And also, Michelle did win.