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You know when you’re going through one of those times in your life when you can’t seem to do anything right? Not like a depressing, circling the toilet kind of way. But more of an I-wish-I-was-Bill-Murray-and-could-get-redo’s-on-all-these-days-so-that-I-could-get-them-right kind of way… more of a comical way where you can’t be all sad sack about things because it’s so lame, it’s funny, and when you look around, your life is pretty sweet. Like the details just aren’t there.

This race report should do a good job metaphor-izing the past few months for me.

I was super pumped to run Mountains 2 Beach this year because of my abysmal performance last year. I though that for sure I’d knock it out of the park, since my fitness was seemingly still there from Boston and because I had fallen so hard for running lately.

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I honestly thought it was “in the bag,” so to speak. Exactly what “in the bag” meant to me is still unclear. I just felt that way. I met up with my girl V at the expo on Friday evening where we snapped a selfie and stocked up on good IPAs at the Vons nearby.

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I love that girl! Friends who run and listen to you and share fun things with you are the best. I also love wearing that Boston jacket everywhere I go despite the fact that it’s electric orange. Don’t judge.

The race was Sunday, so I spent all day Saturday hanging out with my wonderful mom and girls. My mini me insisted I take a gazillion pictures of her hair flying back while she swung at the pirate park:

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I wanted to drink as much Nuun as humanly possible (it’s my go-to pre-race hydration secret!):

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And I wanted to paint my nails in Deborah Lippmann’s new shades:

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And carb up:

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Blondie wanted to spend all day with Nana flying kites:

IMG_0093That girl is too much, I tell ya!

I didn’t want to wake Ruth the Lab when I woke up super early the next morning for the race, so my mom graciously offered to watch the girls up in Oxnard while I cam back home to sleep. The things I do for that dog!

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She’s really the best girl. She likes to sleep in on Sundays, and I definitely didn’t want to upset her routine, so he husband and I drove back to the Conejo after dinner and turned in around 10.

Around 4:20 AM, I woke up. Thankfully. Mostly because I made this mistake:

IMG_0100Remember how my phone was stolen a couple weeks ago? And you know how you have at least 15 different alarms for the varying races/events/time-to-get-ups/classes that you have irregularly/regularly scheduled during the year?

Maybe that’s just me.

Because this was the first race post-stolen phone, I had to set a new alarm, and didn’t even think to check the AM/PM.

Whoops!

So I ran around like a mad woman, scarfing down a bowl of oatmeal, sucking down a coffee and a bottle of Nuun, lubing my pits (don’t judge), and halfway dressing before the husband and I realized that we didn’t know where his keys were. We finally found them at 5:10, twenty-five minutes after our planned departure time. We picked up V, who was most likely upset but didn’t show it because she’s too nice, and drove the 45 minutes to Ojai.

But, what I didn’t double-check was the location of the start line. I obviously didn’t read the email that indicated the course change, so we wasted another 10 minutes circling Nordhoff High/downtown Ojai trying to figure out where the race start was. It was a disaster. With two minutes before the start, V and I bailed out of the husband’s truck and made a B-line for the port potties. As I was peeing, I heard the start gun go off. That certainly was not the way I envisioned my day starting.

Luckily, V and I made it into the second wave of runners in time. After wave 2 started, I nearly lost it. I had no idea how the course had changed, what it meant for the finish, how jam-packed the trails were going to be if I was in the second wave… I forgot about the run love and was more focused on time, for which I hadn’t even set a goal!

I know, I’m crazy.

Within the first 10 minutes, I was able to say hi to my friend Kristina and Oiselle teammate and (I’m going to force her to be) my new BFF Lisa, aka RunWiki, which definitely helped lighten my ultra-stressed out mood.

I don’t know what happened after that. Maybe I’m just so overwhelmed with all of the life/balls I’m trying to keep in the air, and/or perhaps I need to take a tip from Elsa, but, man, was I having a tough time letting go of the morning’s epic fails! It’s not even like this was a goal race! I was just out to beat last year’s time! Whatever it was, though, I couldn’t focus on anything except catching up to the 3:25 pacer. Why that idea would cross my mind is completely baffling to me, but for some absurd reason, I though that it would be possible, especially if I could keep around 7:45 mile splits.

Why I thought I could run even 7:45s is also baffling to me, since I never trained for that time. My brain was hijacked, that’s for sure.

If you’ve ever had a goal in mind (perceived or real) when running a race, you also probably know how mentally devastating it can be to watch your even splits stretch towards positive splits. Also upsetting: working hard to catch the 3:30ers, then being swallowed up by them so close to the finish, despite the fact that I started minutes after the first wave and should have never thought it wise to catch up to a pace group out of my fitness league.

The first 8-ish miles around Ojai ticked by, but there were some inclines that I either forgot about or didn’t know about because of my failure to read the course map. I probably burned too much energy trying to play catch-up. Live and learn, right?

As I dropped into the bike trail leading down to Ventura, I instantly regretted not keeping up with my almost-daily one-legged squats, lunges, barre moves that helped maintain quad, glute, and hip-flexor strength since returning from Boston. Descending towards the beach, I knew that I would experience the same fadeaway as I did last year, but I didn’t know when it would happen.

Thankfully, the bike path is a pretty course to run with it’s trees and bridges. Just listening to the breathing of the runners was nice, at first. Many, many runners wore ear buds, so I was hard pressed to find people to chat with (note to self: I need to find/replace my nano for smaller races like these). After a while, I was over the silence. Along the course, I saw the same people pop up to cheer on their runners, which was nice for them, but as I began to slow, all I could think of was how much happier I would be if I were spectating instead of running.

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Also thankfully, I had my own water. Each time I hit up an aid station, I would pinch the plastic cup, and it would crack down the side, spilling all over me. It was nice to cool down, but I much prefer ingesting water to dribbling it down my front.

Around mile 18, I was done. After doing a little quick math in my head, I figured that I could run sub-10-minute miles, and still make it under 3:35:21, which was my time from last year. I also contemplated sitting down and giving up.

But a funny thing happened. All I could think of was what my girls would think. I wasn’t injured. I wasn’t dehydrated. I wasn’t experiencing GI distress or painful blisters or any of the other number of things that could possibly sideline a marathoner. I was just feeling done. But what would I tell them when they came to scoop me up off the road? That I was over it? Was that a good message to send to my little people?

So what did I do? I made a deal not to walk. I promised myself to run at whatever pace would get me to the finish line. As the sun broke through the clouds, that became a harder deal to keep as my un-sunscreened face (yet another morning failure) slowly burned. Finally, I reached mile 22 (I think) where my husband and girls were waiting with cowbells and a handheld full of Fluid (<-have you tried their Performance Drink???). Thank goodness for those people! They were just the positive vibes I needed to finish.

Even though the flat finish felt like a steep climb, I kept thinking of my girls and reminding myself that running is just putting one foot in front of the other. That’s all it is. One foot. In front of the other.

After 3 hours, 32 minutes, and 14 seconds later, I finally crossed the finish line. And my mom and Ruth the Lab were there to see it!!!!!

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It’s always so much better to finish a race in front of your fans, especially if you fan is your mom! And, yes. For those of you who are keeping score, this is the first race I wore the Stride short instead of the Bum Wrap. I didn’t regret it one bit.

After collecting my medal (what happened to the cool recycled metal ones from years past?) and hugging my mom and the best lab on Earth, I met up with Nicole (<-running across the USA soon!!!) and Carolyn (who set a PR and BQed!!!!) before seeking out the husband and my girls.

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And a recovery drink. I can’t stand to eat anything after a marathon, which I why I usually go straight for the chocolate milk or Fluid Recovery, but I couldn’t find anything liquid, and I certainly didn’t bring my own (whoops!), so I chugged a couple bottles of water instead.<-Not smart! Always refuel immediately after a race!

As my posse and I rolled out, I was super lucky enough to re-run into Lisa! She BQed after training for a MONTH!!! You can read about her epic day here. She’s pretty amazing!

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The husband clearly needs more blogger-support photog practice. ;)

I’m trying to convince Lisa to do Boston to Big Sur with me next year. I mean, we are new BFFs, right?

I also met up with bestie V, who PRed!

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As soon as I got back home, I hopped in an ice bath and sipped on some chocolate milk that my super fantasticandwonderful mom picked up from the store on the way home. She’s the best. THANK YOU, MOM!!!

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And I thought about how running a race with zero set goals is not a smart idea. Even if the only goal is to have fun and run comfortably, I need to map out my race strategy.

Setting goals is what gives me direction in races and in life, and that is why this race is (hopefully) a good metaphor for how this year will end up. I have these goals and places I want to be, but I’m not sure how they will work out. I’m at mile 18, and I’m just trying to make it through a really hard first year at a new job, and I’m focused on putting one foot in front of the other to finish out the school year strong.

As I sat in the ice tub thinking about my future running plan (that includes a 10K next weekend), I realized that I have no idea what to expect in the upcoming months. Do I want to add a summer race? Or do I just want to focus on training and funning (fun running)? I’m nearing the end of the school year, and I have no plan for next year. Should I apply for jobs at other schools? Or should I hold out in hopes of landing a handful of classes at the place I now call home?

I am not going to lie. I’m a little worried about it. I don’t like uncertainty. But, like my run life, I think it will work out.

I opened my email today to find out that I won the Nuun/San Francisco Marathon entry from a contest they ran last week!

Summer race, here I come! (AND A HUUUUUGGGEEEEEEE THANK YOU TO NUUN!!!!!!!!)

PS. The best part of my day was when I saw my mini me at the end of the race. She gave me a gigantor hug and asked if she could put a flower in my hair just because she loves me.

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What is your dream race?

Nuun or water?

Do you listen to music when running?