Coming off that Stress High

It’s been a pretty crazy couple of weeks. I do not recall the taper being so dramatic in my first two marathons, and my only conclusion is that perhaps I didn’t train hard enough last time to notice a difference. I don’t know. I’m guessing at this point.

Last night, everything kind of came to a head when I found myself cleaning up and rearranging my bedroom to make comfortable space for my friend who is coming to town just to cheer me on. From here on out, everything I do will be in prep for marathon. No more other weird, random or unrelated errands to run. It’s time to get serious. Getting serious about marathon prep means no more chance happenings looking like this crazy kook:

image1 (1)There is something seriously wrong with me.

Today I am sitting at my desk at work with a heating pad on my low back. My SI joints have been causing me a lot of discomfort this week I am really slow, otherwise I would have started using the heating pad at the first sign of pain. It’s really making a difference!

I am also chugalugging my favorite Skratch Labs electrolyte mix, as I woke up this morning with a splitting migraine/sinus headache for no apparent reason other than McDreamy died last night and I was in mourning. I have been close friends with Mer/Der for more than 10 years, through many relationship ups and downs, near death experiences (and misses) so it came as a major shock. It’s nothing some electrolytes can’t handle.

image2

Let me say this..

As I sit here at my desk, I can feel my body melting around the seams. I am tired. I am feeling relaxed. I don’t know if it was in the act of my spring cleaning overhaul last night, or if it’s just the realization that I am headed into Marathon Weekend, but my body is finally letting go of the stress that it has been carrying around for the past two weeks. I have been on a stress high without realizing it. Do you know what I’m talking about? That moment when your body finally lets go of tension. It resembles the moment when you first slip into a free-swinging ENO hammock.. you’re weightless, swaying, breezy..

It’s good. It feels amazing. Tonight after work I go pick up my race packet and then I head to Synergy for a 30 minute deep tissue massage. After that Harmony will be arriving and together we are enjoying grilled steak and salad at home, having a wonderful chill night before the fun can really begin. One more full day — a day without anything to do but race prep — before I toe the line.

Deep breath in, deep breath out.. it’s going to be an incredible weekend. I’m feeling that stress high drift away in the wind.

What Should I Wear? Marathon Edition

It’s been a whirlwind of a day. From waking up on the wrong side of the bed to an unexpected (and very successful) phone interview, loads of errands including 3 trips to find my Skratch Labs electrolyte mix, 3 loads of laundry and rearranging my room into a B&B, all the way to bawling my eyes out while Dr McDreamy dies before my very eyes. I’m tired. Exhausted. 

My back has been bothering me quite a bit this week and for the first time I’ve realized that the heating pad works best if I use it. So here I am, finally relaxing, hydrating and collecting my thoughts. 

  
Andi is warming up Harmony’s bed. She loves it when Harmony visits. 

It took me 3 trips to find the Skratch Labs hydration mix I need for Sunday. Fleet Feet Bend and FootZone were both sold out of Lemon Lime Exercise Hydration Mix. Finally REI saved the day. 

 This is the electrolyte mix I’ve used all marathon training season and I know it works so I wasn’t willing to switch. 
For nutrition, I have also stuck to Honey Stingers all season and it has worked, so I’m not changing it. I also eat a very good breakfast in the morning before my long runs and I think that has more to do with not bonking than my long run nutrition. But I try to take in between 200-400 calories per hour, so I have 4 packets of honey stingers (160 cal each). Supplemented by my Skratch Labs (which will account for about another 60 calories per bottle x 8).. It should carry me through. However, there will also be aid stations with gummy bears, picky bars and something else. 

 
I started to lay out my clothes for race day just to make sure I have both socks, etc. 

  My outfit is incredible. I’m pretty excited about how comfortable it’ll be. Nike running skirt from eons ago.. I wore it at the Disney Marathon and it performed well. My orange top is from my Fleet Feet Bend marathon training group. I want to wear that top because I want people to know which team I’m on. I’m a Fleet Feet girl. They’ve helped me out so much and I appreciate them beyond words. My Moving Comfort bra is the piece de resistance — something had to keep those puppies in line. So comfortable. Patagonia Houdini pullover keeps wind and rain at bay. And it is light enough to tuck into my hydration belt when it warms up. My Injinji socks keep blisters away!! And my Oregon half buff to commemorate my first Oregon marathon!! And of course.. My Mizuno Wave Rider! Love them. That’s an Amphipod hydration belt without the bottles. I will post another post with more details but tonight just wanted to go through things to help me relax. 

It’s been a long day. 

One more day of work, packet pick up, a 30 min deep tissue sports massage, Harmony arrives, a fun Saturday and then RACE DAY!! 

That’s the same thing as a hop, skip and a jump. 

Did I tell you I had an incredible phone interview today? So unexpected. I knew that epiphany I had last week would only lead to good things. So much weight and darkness was lifted off my heart. 

Tonight I mourn for McDreamy.. And this next marathon will be for him! 
 

Bend Marathon & National Kidney Foundation

In four short days, I will be toeing the line of the Inaugural Bend Marathon. It’s been over six years since I’ve run a marathon and a lot has happened during those six years. It feels very good to be back in the distance running world, and while I don’t expect to run a PR on Sunday, it doesn’t mean I won’t be running my toughest, best marathon.

I wanted to remind you all that I am racing this year to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation. It’s a really great cause because more than 26 million adults in the US alone are affected by kidney disease. We all stand a chance of needing support from the National Kidney Foundation at some point in our lives. Children are born with kidney disease or failure — this is not a disease or a condition that is brought on by lifestyle alone (however, a healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset of kidney disease). That’s one of the main reasons I chose to support the National Kidney Foundation — they spend a lot of time and money on education, awareness and prevention, as well as supporting those who are in dialysis and in need of kidney transplants.

Please consider donating to my cause today and virtually cheer me on through a tough 26.2-mile course. Bend, Oregon is situated in the high desert of the Cascade Mountains, about 3800ft in elevation. This will be my highest elevation marathon, with over 1500 feet of gain throughout the course. During training, I have overcome calf strains and the almighty flu. I fight hard through aches and pains because I am happy to be running, and even happier to know I am making a difference for millions of Americans. Please be part of my journey and consider donating today!

$26 for 26 miles? Every dollar counts, so if all you have is $1, we’ll take it. National Kidney Foundation is set up to receive donations directly through CrowdRise. You can rest assured that your money will never enter these greedy little hands of mine :-)

Thank you so much for considering donating, and if you can’t today.. no worries! I’m collecting money until October 15th!

Click the image below to donate:

BendMara_andHALF_WEB

Get Out the Way

Every Tuesday during cross country season at Lyndon State College, my teammates and I were found running repeats around the high school track, 1 mile down the hill from campus. Together as a team, we would run our mile warm up downhill to the track, where we would work our butts off, and when the workout was complete, we would make our way back up to the college. The steepest part of the hill had a 12% grade, and it was steadily uphill the entire way (home).

I have a memory of my friend and teammate Art singing Ludacris lyrics as he and the men’s team approached and took over the women’s team on one particular run back toward campus.

“Move Bitch. Get Out the Way”

It may come as a surprise, but I did not then nor do I now listen to Ludacris (I know, how ludicrous!)

For some “odd” reason, those lyrics and that memory have popped into my head this week, particularly today. And since we went to college in Vermont, in the heart of farm country (and the home to Bag Balm, no joke), I found this awesome image to go with my thoughts today.

moo bitchI tend to get in my own way. I’d say I hold up pretty well under duress and I plan well, make decisions thoughtfully, but I have noticed that I have a major tendency to get in my own way the week or days before an important race.

Last year, I went for a nice easy spin a few days before my first Olympic triathlon. That easy ride resulted in my 3rd consecutive flat tire, this time rupturing my tire with a shard of glass outside the town landfill. It was good in one way — I was forced to actually change my own tube and get back on the road to get home — but it was disruptive in many other ways. Thankfully, my bike tech saved the day and I was good to go, but if I hadn’t had him to bail me out, I would have had to drop out of the race. I didn’t have $80+ to replace my tire unexpectedly, two days before a race.

A few weeks ago I was dealing with calf strains but really wanted to get in some exercise so I went out for yet another easy bike ride. I cleared my head so well that when I got back into my driveway I couldn’t figure out how to get my feet unclipped from the pedals and before I could figure out what was going on, I was hopping on my bike, one foot stuck and the other getting the chain ring repeatedly jammed into the belly of my strained calf until blood was pouring down my leg, collecting in the cuff of my sock.

Last night I was determined to not get in my way, so I found myself downtown on a beautiful sunny evening with nothing to do. I bought myself an ice cream cone and walked along Mirror Pond toward Galvaston, met my friends at Fleet Feet and enjoyed two full glasses of water at the Lot (instead of beer — see? I was staying out of my way).

As we were walking toward the Lot from Fleet Feet (a couple blocks), I realized I was getting blisters on the backs of my heels from my shoes, which of course were shoes I don’t wear often, and never without socks. But my feet had been hot at work and so I spent the day barefoot (on Mondays I take photographs of fly rods and reels in the photo studio, which gets very hot from lack of air movement and bright lights). I hadn’t planned on walking at all, so I didn’t think much of being barefoot inside my shoes.

You know you’re with runners when your friend offers the socks off his feet to protect you from blisters, 5 days before your marathon. Instead I accepted a ride back to my car and then got home before too much damage was done. However, I do now have a blister on the back of my right heel. I made it the entire training season without developing blisters on my feet. I’m a moron.

Today I got to work and realized I did not have my wallet, nor did I pack a lunch. Probably not best to fast 5 days before running a marathon.. yet again, getting in my own way.

I’m recognizing that perhaps I need some structure during the downtime/taper. Leaving activity up to how I am feeling in the moment is perhaps a little dangerous for me. So as I plan out my training schedules for my upcoming events, I will consider this.

Do you ever find yourself getting in your own way? Have you learned to detour, or are you still getting in your own way?

Knowledge is Power

To continue the streak of personal growth this month, I have decided to spend some time reviewing my training and nutrition diaries. I have decided..

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

I have logged into MyFitnessPal for more than 50 consecutive days, logging breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, total calories, balanced against calories burned. Prior to MyFitnessPal I couldn’t tell you where I could truly make improvements in my diet. Sure, I could tell you obvious areas that could use improvement, but mostly that would be a guess or an assumption. Now I have actual data and I can compare and contrast as I move forward. Make wise decisions based on actual information.

If it wasn’t for Strava, I wouldn’t have an exercise diary at all. Or maybe because of Strava, I don’t have an exercise diary at all. I don’t know which came first in this case. But I realized that I only keep track of my running and cycling. I do not log stretching, rolling, strength work or any other cross training exercises. I am not keeping track of milestones or running regular time trials to check improvement.

One of the changes I am implementing as I move forward in this new chapter of my life (KT v2.0), is to keep a well-written training log. Now I see the true value. If I had 50 days of detailed information on my training program, I would be able to clearly see why I am starting to have structural dysfunction. I have not been doing the right kind of strength work.

I found this amazing article on causes of calf pain, and it was not at all what I was expecting! It’s kind of like saying “the door is squeaking, so paint the windowsill”. When my calves started to give me trouble, I went to the source: stretched my calf muscles, changed my form ever so slightly (unintentionally) to take strain off them on hills. Had someone said to me, “strengthen your glutes” I would have laughed! But as it turns out.. the knee bone’s connected to the hip bone, and so on and so forth.

Here’s the link from Active.com on Calf Strains. Worth a read. There is no genetic marker to determine if you will be susceptible to injury or not, so it’s best to just take precaution, listen to the seasoned veterans and heed their advice. (I am not the seasoned veteran, but the author of that article is, or at least knows who is).

With a newly found sense of confidence and belief in myself, I have decided that I will write out my goals, write out my plan to get there, and keep track of daily progress, weekly progress, monthly progress as I work toward my goals. Now that I have so much wonderful data on my eating habits, I plan to use that information to my benefit.

Some of the changes I plan to make include:

1. Lox with my bagels in the morning. Eggs are fine, but they add more fat than I want to add to my diet. Not just in the egg but in the coconut oil I use to cook them. I have nothing against coconut oil (at ALL). But I just don’t want my breakfast starting out so high in fat. Lox adds pure protein, plus all the amazing benefits of salmon. I stole this blurb about salmon from Runner’s World:

Nutrition-wise, salmon is the king of fish. Besides being an excellent source of high-quality protein (you get about 30 grams in a four-ounce serving), salmon is one of the best food sources of omega-3 fats. These essential fats help balance the body’s inflammation response, a bodily function that when disturbed appears to be linked to many diseases including asthma. A recent study showed that people with exercise-induced asthma saw an improvement in symptoms after three weeks of eating more fish oil. If you’ve been limiting seafood due to possible mercury or PCB contamination, simply aim for a variety of farm-raised and wild salmon for maximum health benefits.

I can’t afford salmon on a regular basis, but Lox are a little more affordable and I just add a small filet to my bagel in the morning. Like with running, I believe nutrition is cumulative and you stand to gain more through consistency. You get more benefit from regularly eating certain foods, rather than eating them once in a blue moon. Likewise, you stand to gain more fitness when you are regular with your training, rather than sporadic or overly aggressive (trying to cram).

2. Tart cherries (seasonal) and tart cherry juice. It’s been eons since I’ve enjoyed juice with breakfast. I stopped drinking orange juice when I realized how high in sugar it was and that certain brands give me migraines, not to mention acid reflux. But tart cherry juice is supposed to be an amazing aid to endurance athletes, so I am enjoying a small portion every morning with breakfast. Again, consistency and cumulative effect at the epicenter of my intentions. I stole this blurb about tart cherry juice from Competitor.com:

A lesser known endurance superfood is tart cherries. Scientists got the idea to test the effects of tart cherry consumption on endurance athletes from their knowledge that tart cherries contain nutrients that have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Managing muscle inflammation caused by training is an important factor in recovery, so it made sense to investigate whether tart cherries would make a difference. And they do!

There are some other changes, but those two are the most “introductory” changes, as in I have never had tart cherry juice in my life until this past week and I have only had lox on my bagel one time, when I worked at a Jewish summer camp in Eagle River, WI.. long before I was a marathoner, and thought it had some religious connection, and not so many health benefits.

I just finished watching the Boston Marathon elite field finish. It was an incredible race and great timing as I cruise through the next six days toward the start line of my third marathon, the Bend Marathon. The Boston Marathon served as an excellent mental primer, and as I work to fine tune all these last minute aches and pains through smart, functional non-exhaustive resistance exercises and fuel my body with healthy and powerful foods, I feel so incredibly excited to have the ability to run at all, let alone a marathon.

Do you use a training log? If so, what’s your method (online, paper, other?) and what kinds of things do you keep track of?

ReBirth 

If you’re a devout follower of my blog, you’re privy to the emotional journey I’ve been on this week, or perhaps this month. Most recently through my own writing I was able to discover the source of a lot of pain in my life. Pain that I wasn’t able to understand has only existed for 6 years. To some of you, the word “only” was probably misused. But the pain that I was feeling was so deep rooted in my heart and in my head that I thought it had been there all my life. All 34+ years of it. I had been blaming the wrong source. I had covered up the symptoms shottily. And lately found myself bleeding through the layers of bandages. And then it hit me. 

Out of darkness, truth brings light. 

It’s interesting how life’s random little intricacies piece together to form something that makes sense. Only if you let it. It’s easy to get bogged down by emotion but if you can separate yourself from the situation, it becomes easier to see the bigger picture. 

I was reborn this week. The epiphany that I had while writing my last blog post turned on a light so bright I could see the shadow behind every word that had substance. Those without shadows were exposed as lies. Untruths. Opinions of those whose opinions mean little to me. 

I walked away from that experience with an incredible amount of lightness in my step. Yes, problems still exist in my life. But the tools I need to fix them are no longer under lock and key. They are at my fingertips. Ready to be used. 

I am resolving to make some changes in my life, now that I have been reborn and have a better view of myself. I am good at making changes in my life. I do not hold onto excuses for very long. I weigh my options, I make a decision and I commit to it. I am not so stubborn that I cannot see life when life desperately needs to interfere. But I am determined to live a better life at a better version of myself. And that is something I could not do because my body and mind did not have enough RAM to upgrade. 

Katy v2.0 

I am going to start my mornings with meditation, yoga, handstand practice and stretching. 

So much of the physical pain I feel in my body is brought on from stress, tension, poor form, fatigue from poor form, stress and tension. If I could just start my day with some mindful meditation and light body work, I think my day would go exponentially better. Just like with everything else important in life, consistency is key so this is something I will aspire to do every morning. 

I will write for at least ten minutes every night. I have wanted to write a book since I was a kid and I have the story in my head, but this is an area that I have allowed excuses to interfere. I don’t have a working computer. I don’t have a lot of free time. I don’t have the clear headspace. Well. I do have ten minutes to spare and with all this meditation, my head is going to clear up immensely. 

I will use my brain and my education and my experience to be smart about my own training. I will be diligent in following the plan that I write for myself, and I will be objective about my training and my results in the same manner that I would be with a client if I were her coach. After all, it was the act of doing so with my triathlon results that led me to such a life changing discovery in my last post, What Did You Expect?

I resolve to be more mindful of the way I live my life. This includes my training programs, eating to fuel, how I spend my money, the way I treat myself and how I look at my future. 

I refuse to sell myself short. I can’t even acknowledge the behaviors I’m eliminating because at this point it’s unnecessary. I truly experienced a rebirth and from now on I will believe in myself. Every day, in every way. 

I am excited to see where this new approach to life takes me. The change is not out of obligation but out of opportunity and because of that, I am almost too excited to sleep. 

Katy Murray, Version 2.0 

Long overdue upgrade, yet well worth the wait. 

What Did You Expect? 

After I posted my PRs across various distances, today I had the opportunity to really scour my first set of triathlon results – a USA-sanctioned sprint triathlon from 2011. Prior to today, I never wanted to look closely at the results because they were so bad. Or so I let myself believe. 

Four years after that event, I was able to evaluate it objectively. And what I was able to uncover was so incredibly useful as I get ready to embark on a very full and lofty 2015 racing season. 

First things first: Hurtful comments about my weight from an ex boyfriend have impacted me in a much bigger way than I ever allowed myself to recognize. I have realized, especially so in this taper for the Bend Marathon, that I have assumed that my weight will automatically impact my running negatively. Beyond this marathon training and the past week of tapering, I realized today that I allowed this assumption to actually slow me down in all of my races in 2014. 

Some of the things he would say about my weight were directly related to the sport of triathlon. The thing about him is that he struggled greatly with anxiety and depression and his way around it was to throw the first stone, and be as mean as possible so that he was protected from getting hurt himself. As I’m sure you can imagine, my weight was the tip of the iceberg in terms of his emotional abuse. I don’t hold a grudge, but I am coming full circle in realizing how deeply he affected my life. For my own benefit, I need to acknowledge this publicly so I can heal and move on. 

I realized all of this when I was reviewing my race results and searching for PRs. My PR attempts and racing in general stopped when I met him in 2009. It’s very sad because I met him through the bike shop where I bought my bike so I could finally pursue a dream of becoming a triathlete. He sold me the bike and he later coached me for a very short time until he declared that he could not work with me, despite the fact that I did every single workout he gave me, following it to the T, and enjoying it. He is an incredible cyclist and I was excited to learn from him. How ironic that it took me 6 years to learn the greatest lesson of all: he was toxic to my well-being. 

Without a wetsuit, he told me, I would drown. But I better not buy the wetsuit at the weight I am (then) because it would definitely not fit me come race day. In other words, if I wanted to be a triathlete I would need to lose a shit ton of weight. 

It’s no surprise to me then that in my first olympic triathlon last summer, I fucked it up royally. It’s no wonder that when it came time to run that I didn’t have enough mental toughness to even try to run. I had allowed his voice to get buried so deeply into my head that all I could hear on race day was, “you’re too fat to run.” It’s no wonder that when Portland Tri came around I walked more than half the course. 

Running was the one sport of the three that I should have been best at. I have been a runner since I was 15 (about 20 years). I’ve only been a swimmer for 12 years, and a cyclist for 6. A triathlete for 4 years. I couldn’t figure out why I was having such a horrible running block last year. The enjoyment for it completely gone. It’s no wonder now. 

He never put me down on the bike. In fact, he built my confidence on the bike quite a bit. But that’s because cycling was his sport. He didn’t need to put me down because no matter what, he’d always beat me at cycling. And it’s true and I don’t care.

But there were many other things that I had excelled at, that he didn’t excel at. I had run two marathons and a 50k trail marathon. I had a Masters degree from the University he grew up idolizing. He was finishing up his BS in a similar program, online. He had done one triathlon and (coincidentally) nearly drowned in the swim and lost his lead on the run. Here I was, having a strong grasp on the run and a growing love for the swim, and all I needed to finish the puzzle was the bike. Because he didn’t feel threatened by me on wheels, he built me up and tore me down to the ground in other avenues of my sport. 

He degraded the YMCA, where I worked and trained. He ruthlessly made fun of my friend and running mentor, former world-class runner Kevin Collins. He insulted my work ethic, my worth, my future, and told me to go back home and live with my mother because I would never amount to anything anyway (my mother does not drive or work due to a severe case of narcolepsy with cataplexy), and he called me “fat and lazy just like her.” He called me a mooch. I was working three jobs to make ends meet while I searched for a career. I had just graduated that spring. 

It’s suddenly no wonder why I have struggled to land a rewarding career and why my sense of self worth is somewhere at the bottom of a dumpster. 

I have been to counseling for a number of things but never once was I able to make a connection between all of my real life struggles and this one person. This one person I once loved so much I was told to stop saying so because it was annoying. 

I want to be successful in life. Successful in sports, in career, in love, in friendship, in all endeavors. And so while I write this candidly, giving myself a much overdue, self-imposed therapy session, I am discovering so many doors that have been hidden and locked for far too long. 

I was that strong girl who would never take abuse from anyone, no matter who he is and no matter what kind of power he has over my heart. So much so that I hid the hurt and pretended like he didn’t effect me. His words. His actions. The coldness in his heart toward me. I walked away, my head held high and pretended like I had moved on, unharmed. 

Clearly harm had been done. And it was lasting. 

Let’s get back to that triathlon. My first sprint triathlon. June 2011, just 2 years after our split. A lot had happened and here I was, just barely getting around to doing the one thing I had wanted to do since before he broke my spirit. 

What did I expect was going to happen? When I had those kinds of voices and words in my head? I’m going to drown in the swim. My ass is too fat for a wetsuit. If you look at photos from that race, you’ll see that I wore a tank top over the tri suit. It was to hide my fat body. I remember thinking it. I was so disappointed in my results that day that I couldn’t even look at my times. All I could see was how close to the bottom of the results sheet I was, and that he had been right. I sucked at triathlon. 

I didn’t do another triathlon for 3 years. I pretty much all but gave up on running and fitness altogether. I no longer dared to dream. I was a has been. A never was. And an I don’t know why I ever even thought I could. 

Today I was finally able to objectively look at my results from that first triathlon. 

I struggled on the swim. It was my first open water swim and I was afraid of the depth of the lake. I hadn’t quite gotten over an irrational fear of getting tangled in a dead body and pulled under. I could not track and so my swim course, which was supposed to be a half circle around buoys ended up looking more like a sunshine with the sun rays flashing from the side of the sun as I corrected my direction and then swam off course again. All things considered. I did not drown. I swam freestyle. I finished the 600 yard course in 14:40. I should have been proud but all I could think of was Brad was right. I suck. I had hoped I would be able to prove him wrong but I couldn’t. 

On the bike I was still not confident. Aero bars scared me and I didn’t know how to climb or ride aggressively. I would get passed on uphills and then scream past them on downhills. I wasn’t very good on turns and my throat was so dry because I wasn’t very confident with the water bottles yet. 

All these years I thought I had ridden 12 mph average speed on that bike course. The one sport I was encouraged on, and I truly proved him wrong. I sucked. 

But today I did the math and realized that I pedaled a respectable pace of 16.7 MPH. That wasn’t so bad after all. 

Prior to this race, I had never done a brick workout. I had no idea what was about to hit me. My legs felt like lead. They just wouldn’t move. And I was so parched from that ride that I could hardly swallow. Running had been my sport for as long as I had been an athlete, and here was my chance to show him. But that first attempt at a brick was a grind. And while I cringed at the results – that 5k being the slowest 5k I had ever run – more proof piled on that I was a worthless piece of shit. Brad was right. I didn’t deserve the nice bike. I’d never amount to anything anyway. I may as well be riding a Huffy. 

Today I was able to use a pace calculator and think about my times objectively. Despite it being my slowest 5k, and in spite of it being the first time I had run after biking that hard, I ran an average pace of 9:47. It really wasn’t that bad, all things considered. 

Analyzing my results today and being able to assess them objectively, the way I would if I were someone’s coach, made me question why I had gotten so bent out of shape to begin with. Why was I so disappointed? What did I really expect? 

The truth is. I was no longer racing for myself. For my own enjoyment. I was no longer competing against myself. I was competing to prove Brad wrong. And it was sucking the life out of it. I had unreasonable expectations and when I couldn’t even come close to them, because I had a head full of negative hecklers, I would feel so discouraged I’d want to crawl in a hole and die. 

Suddenly it’s making sense to me why I have put so much pressure on myself to have a rewarding and sustaining career. I need to prove to him that I am worth something. 

If I could go back in time and change one thing, I would not have bought my bike from Syracuse Bicycles. Without me knowing it, or intentionally allowing it, I have allowed him to ruin the past 6 years of my life. 

If you’re still reading this, I thank you for coming on this journey with me. I did not expect to write about my emotionally abusive boyfriend. This post was supposed to be about triathlon and why I have placed such unreasonable expectations on myself. As it turns out, he is why. Thank you for witnessing this epiphany. 

As I continue my taper for Bend Marathon, and I work through random aches and pains in my body and develop an irrational fear for gaining weight, I will work on my mental state. I will think logically about my expectations for Bend Marathon. And I will remove (or work on removing, anyway) all of Brad’s voices from my head. 

I want to return to the state I was in in 2008. The last string of PRs before my fitness fell off the face of this earth. Before I let his voice take root and grow weeds in my self confidence and my belief in myself. 

I love running. I love triathlon! I love competing and watching and feeling my fitness improve. I have 0 memories of having an incredibly blissful time racing in 2014. Yet when I look back on so many other races in years prior, I can’t think of a single one where I told myself “you have no place being here” or (in tears) “where is the finish line? This isn’t even fun!” I had a straight out mental breakdown on the water last summer as I swam across Suttle Lake, finishing in last place. It all came down to my weight, my job, my worth. It had nothing to do with swimming. 

It’s incredible how damaging someone’s words can be. How lasting.. 

But instead of focusing on that, I’m going to choose to focus on how unwilling I was to quit. Despite a choking wetsuit and mental breakdown. I finished last, operative word being finished. Despite declaring how much fun I was not having, I finished my first Olympic triathlon in very sad, lonely, defeated tears. I finished. Every single race in 2014 marked a slowest finish for me. But every single race I signed up for, I finished

Bend Marathon.

This marathon has been incredibly rehabilitative for me. I am so grateful to the race directors, who gave me an entry in exchange for some social media and blog coverage. They don’t realize their part in my life, but it’s huge. Running is part of me, and it feels so good to be reunited. 

I have been running long runs at an easy no-push pace, and ending anywhere between 10:38/mile and 11:34/mile. All things considered.. everything I’ve fought through and run from, run toward during the past 5 months.. Calf strains, flu, PTSD, damaged confidence and a majorly renewed sense of adventure, excitement, understanding of the bigger picture, I think I could manage to run 10:30 average pace if I run strong the whole way. It won’t be a PR course for me. My PR is 4:21, pre BC (lol – those are his initials). And as I am learning tonight, I am a much different person today than I was then. I am not running this marathon to prove to him or to anyone, not even myself, that I am worthy. I am just running because I simply love to run. 

My official goal for Bend Marathon is to finish between 4:35 – 4:52. That’s 10:30 pace – 11:09 pace. If I don’t run that fast, I won’t let it destroy me. It’s my first marathon in 6 years. My first one at 4,000+ feet. And the hilliest marathon by a long shot. I am rebuilding. Learning to believe in myself. Finding my inner strength. Looking ahead, instead of down. This race isn’t aboutfor PR. 

I have to make one comment about the course. The finish line was moved and the course had some minor adjustments to accommodate. The turn they added near the end is on Crosby Lane. 

Crosby is my ex boyfriend’s last name. I am not saying this to identify him. I don’t harbor negativity for the way he treated me. He treated me that way because he was hurting much more severely. I mention it because, as I pass that sign on Sunday, there will be about 2 mostly downhill miles to the finish. I will muster up as much positive thinking as I can and imagine him standing there cheering for me, rooting for me, pulling for me. Because I know deep down that he has always believed in me. His emotional abuse was not about me. I was just the punching bag. He hurt himself worse. And for the first time since January 11, 2009, when I ran Disney Marathon, I will be able to let go of his negative voice and carry with me only the words I want and need to hear. 

I believe in you.