Boston Marathon 2019 (in hot pink ZYIA Active!)

I don’t typically do the same race over and over again. 

There is a lot to be said for testing yourself against an exact course (apples to apples), I just haven’t done it in my 50 state effort for efficiency purposes. 

Except Boston. 

2019 marked my 4th Boston Marathon; I also ran in 2009, 2012, 2018. I just love this race. 

You have to qualify to run in Boston and the times are pretty aggressive; so sure, there’s a feeling that the race itself is special because you earned your way in. 

I love the history of the race, from Katharine Switzer to Duel in the Sun legends Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley and more recently Des Linden. Bonus points: I get to see and stay with my friends from college, Heather and Jack.

I am social, so I enjoy what feels to some like a “hurry up and wait” day. I like riding the school buses from Boston Common to Hopkinton High School and waiting in Athletes Village with strangers (most of whom I find are just waiting to be friends!). 

I love slapping outstretched hands in Ashland. I always seek out the smallest kids. I enjoy the spectators lining the streets, all celebrating Patriots Day and going all out. I swear there’s a bar in Natick that plays “Sweet Caroline” on speakers nonstop all day because it’s been on all 4 years at that point. If someone can confirm this, I’d be eager to know- it’s too predictable to be coincidence at this point! 

My favorite part of the course comes just before the half, “scream tunnel” at Wellesley College. You can legit hear these girls from a full mile away. They are SO LOUD you can’t help but get butterflies & feel the tingles a full mile after. 

I even enjoy the hills of Newton. I don’t have a runner’s build and spend a lot of time in the bottom of a squat, so they are a welcome challenge. I want my legs to feel like rubber bands at the end of Heartbreak Hill- it’s a feeling I earned! 

There are too many places on the course to cite confetti popping, music playing, spectators lined 10 deep- it really is amazing. I don’t “need” these things to race but I sure do enjoy them. 

The runners are great, too. You’d think it’d be a bunch of elitist types, but I find folks are generally proud to be there and eager to connect. 

To be fair, with the exception of 2009, I’ve been in the 3rd wave so maybe that has something to do with it. Nothing like beating your qualification time by a full 5 minutes and still being seeded in “party pace”- really speaks to the depth of talent in the sport of running right now. 

Did the bipolar weather bother me this year? Sure. When I saw it was going to be like last year about a week out, I panicked a bit but the decided not to even look at it until I arrived. Can’t control the weather, right? 

That sort of backfired on me when all I packed were Light n Tight leggings and it was 63 (& very humid!) at the start. Nonetheless, the same hot pink pants that served me well in my 100K trail race powered me through here. They truly are, as the name would suggest, LIGHT so I was actually more comfortable than you’d think. 

Pssst- I’m also beginning to think these hot pink leggings give me some sort of extra confidence, so there’s that to consider...maybe they are my new race uniform! 

I remembered from my hot weather experience in 2012 to put ice cubes under my hat to stay cool. That was a great strategy from about mile 14 to the finish. I also made sure I stayed hydrated and balanced water with electrolytes during the race and never had any dicey episodes heat can sometimes cause. 

I also chose the All Star Bra and, once again, had zero chafing. That’s now 2 marathons and a 12 hour ultramarathon I’ve had completely clear skin under my arms, at bra line, etc- it’s no longer coincidental. I will sing the praises of this piece until the unicorns come home (see what I did there?!). 

I’m proud of my 3:34:48, which is the fastest time I’ve ever secured in Boston. Far from a PR, it reflects the work I put into my training and qualifies me for next year! 

To God be the glory! 

Lessons Learned at Weymouth Woods 100K

Why did I want to run Weymouth Woods 100K? 62.1 miles? 

Sure, it had something to do with Trey being gone. Airfare expenses for our family need to be for him to come here and see the kids, not to some out of state 50 marathon effort. 

Yeah, it had something to do with the "food holidays" too. I avoided my typical 5 pound gain with the volume in miles this training effort required. 

Mostly though? God put this on my heart because He wanted to teach me through it...and He did. 

Photo credit: Timothy Hale 

Lesson 1: Break large goals into manageable pieces
The course was fourteen 4.5 mile loops. I know the photo above is somewhere in the first 4.5 miles (because I took the vest off after that), but if you'd have asked me that day I'd have said loop 1. I can wrap my head around 14 laps. 62 miles? No way- too big. 

You know what they say- how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! 

Lesson 2: Run your own race

Our Fayetteville Running Club President David would have likely come out anyway to support and even though he only committed to one loop, he accompanied me on my 3rd, 5th, and 7th loop. He even went to my van to retrieve my favorite lipgloss. 

Side note: that was an emergency. I put what I thought was a full tube of lipgloss in my pocket prior to the race and - tragedy of tragedies- realized somewhere single digit miles in that it only had a few applications left! The horror! Asking a man in his late 40s to "go to the minivan and find the bright pink bag with the sparkly pink tube of gloss inside" was a bit emasculating, but he did it! 

Photo Credit: Timothy Hale
A pacer is a good idea for something like this because it's their job to go YOUR pace. Finding a friend on course? Look, I've done it before in an ultra but I don't recommend it. Why? You need to listen to your own body. The whole "run with friends" thing is great in theory but consider the fact that someone is pushing themselves harder than they should. I know there's a performance case to be made for it, but if you are about survival and simply crossing the finish line (as I was), I say run your own race.

Lesson 3: Focus on what you can control
It was for this reason I didn't post to any of my social media accounts. My little ZYIA Active business is booming and blessedly has over 5000 connections on Instagram. I made a conscious decision to remove any external pressures about finishing, which included posting to social media. I make a lot of stupid decisions daily, but I'm proud of this one. In addition to external pressures, the list of things I was able to control was short: 

1. My attitude

I prayed a lot. I believe in a sovereign God who already orchestrated the result of this race. Let me be clear: the power over the outcome or my attitude did not come from within me. Girl, I don't need to wash my face. 

I prayed for calm when I tripped (twice) over a root. I asked God for clarity when I needed to decide whether to walk latter miles in pitch dark with only a headlamp available. I prayed for strength when I felt low.

I didn't look at my watch until I was 30 miles in. I wanted a good cushion of mileage under my legs and to listen to my body until that point. What was my pace? Don't know. What mile was I on? Didn't care. This was another conscious choice that affected my attitude.

2. My nutrition 

Digestion is a delicate piece when your effort extends past the 8-10 hour mark like this. I knew from previous 50 Milers that I'd need to get in whole foods (quick burning carbohydrates- I love me some Mark Sission but I am not a fat adapted athlete!) in early and often to sustain me calorically in the later miles when I could no longer digest. This race was over the top in terms of what they provided both at the halfway point in the loop as well as drop bag area. I honestly didn't use any of the fuel I packed other than my Red H favorites (Go Juice, Formula H) I had been training with.

As someone who typically fasts until noon, I waited about 2 hours before putting anything in my body other than caffeine. Was this a gamble? For sure. I had tested the theory on a couple of other marathon race days though and my instinct was correct. Did I take in a lot of ginger ale around laps 10-12? Yep. Was it minimal discomfort for a 12 hour effort? Yep.  

3. What I wore
I mean, you knew I was going here. The Chill Long Sleeve was perfect for what ended up being a late 40s/early 50s day with a bit of sporadic light showers. It's breathable, comfy, and dries quickly. 

There was a happy ending to my limited release (now gone) pink pants saga when another ZYIA Active rep sold her size sample to me, which alleviated any anxiety on course. It was important to me to wear something that made me feel powerful and, as silly as it sounds, these were the leggings I pictured wearing when I signed up for the race. 

I can't say enough great things about the All Star Bra for running. Click here to see in app photos of my braline and underarms after 62 miles with no BodyGlide or Vaseline. Honestly, I was so concerned about my feet I forgot (remember? Stupid daily decisions!) and since there was no discomfort, it never occurred to me to apply mid-race. 

Things I could not control on race day: weather, trail conditions. About 10 days out, it looked like we'd be running through downpours. Looked a little better a week out with only 70% chance of rain all day, and finally race eve we knew we'd only have a few light, quick showers. 

The problem with that? Trail conditions. It was not as muddy as I anticipated but there were definitely some wet spots that made a typically dry course boast "water crossings" on race day. My friends in the Pacific Northwest taught me this fact: there's no bad weather- just bad gear. I was prepared even though I didn't need extra shoes, socks, or yak trax. 

Here's the coolest part, y'all: I crossed the line in 12:40 and came in 2nd female overall. I was blessed to share some miles with the winner, Amanda, and she was kind enough to share early advice with me. She's a very talented veteran runner with many ultras (to include 100 milers!) under her belt and I'm thrilled for her victory. 

Speaking of victories, this was one for me as well. It's the farthest distance I've ever raced and I had fun out there. Sure, I can barely walk now but I mean it- it was fun. Giving God all of the glory for a great race and the lessons learned. 

Minimum Effective Dose Marathon Training

What does the minimum effective dose look like? 

The training for my 47th marathon state was a self experiment to answer this question. Rather than a 16-18 week traditional training, here’s what I did: 

300 swings + 5K/day for 30 days 
10 weeks formal marathon training 

Rather than building a base of training volume with a bunch of miles that would later break me down or put me at risk for overuse, I did what I believe to be the minimum effective dose for building an endurance engine to then layer running specific training on top of: 300 swings and 5K worth of running daily. 

The swings were anyhow- sometimes within one block of time (often 10 OTM for 30 minutes) and sometimes Pavel Tsatsouline “grease the groove” style (10 here, 20 there all day until I reached 300). 

It is worth noting I am experienced in the kettlebell swing. This is not a new movement for me. I’ve been doing them for almost 8 years consistently at CrossFit (though we disagree on American versus Russian style swings) and my own strength programming. My Husband is both RKC and StrongFirst certified also so I benefit from his coaching on technique and healthy form. You cannot learn to swing a kettlebell through a YouTube or IGTV video, y’ just can’t.

The 5K was also anyhow- sometimes a race, often without a watch, sometimes 800m x 6 or some other speed work that equaled 3.1 miles. 

Within the formal running training, I programmed for myself and pulled best practices from:
  • Hansen’s Method - don’t go over 16 miles in a single effort 
  • CrossFit Endurance - long runs every other week 
  • Hal Higdon - 10% volume increase each week, 2 week taper
  • Furman FIRST - key runs + total mileage 
Each concept or take away is what I used in my own hybrid plan. It is worth noting that I have completed all of these plans, some multiple times, as written. 

How did it go? By the numbers, remarkably well! I ran a very evenly paced 3:31:46 (8:05/mile) on a course that was 22 miles of double track trail. 

That performance earned me 3rd female overall; anytime I can podium above age groups I am really pleased. 

Outside the numbers? Even better. I stepped up to the starting line feeling healthy, rested, and eager to go long. You’d think this feeling would be a given for a marathoner, but oftentimes traditional training schedules have us riddled with injuries, mentally drained, and ready to hang up our racing hats for months after. 

...not me! I feel so great, I’m already registered for my next race (100K trail) and mapping out the associated training in a similar pattern. 

Will this work for everyone? No. You have to be an experienced runner and well versed in the kettlebell swing. I feel strongly about this specific movement because it not only builds an aerobic engine but also injury proofs your body. 

Speaking of injury proofing, I’ll add that I did a strength progression (5x5 push/pull/squat) throughout both the 30 day cycle and the 10 weeks of formal training. This is non negotiable. Strong first.

In a closing you can now expect from me moving forward, I want to mention what I wore: ZYIA All Star Bra + ZYIA Copper Charged Tank + Lululemon Run Speeds. 
  • All Star Bra($49): look, it doesn’t get any better than this. High neck with breathable mesh detail, ultimate support with zip up back. I don’t think I’ve ever run a marathon- this was lifetime number 54- without having some sort of chafing under my arms or at my bra line until this weekend. I didn’t even lube anything up! It’s almost a little suspicious. 

  • Copper Charged Tank ($31): this performed exactly like the Lululemon Silverescent Racerback tank has in the past. No chafing, light material, breathable, stylish. The only difference between the two is $27 and ZYIA uses copper instead of silver. We are a one income household with 4 kids, so methinks I’m sticking with ZYIA.

  • Lululemon Run Speeds ($64): these are my gold standard and I don’t see that changing. I prefer the 2.5” inseam with the block-it pocket. They are flattering, perform well, and I appreciate the two internal front pockets as well as the lined pocket in the back (where I keep gum and ibuprofen so they don’t get sweat soaked).

Great training, great race, great gear. I’m thrilled and only have 4 states to go until I’m at all 50 plus DC. Somebody pinch me! 

To God be the glory! 

Boston Marathon 2018 (aka Waterworld aka Noah aka Frozen)

This year’s Boston marathon was a “redemption race”. An unexpected triplet pregnancy in 2015 forced me to sit out on what would have been my third Boston. 

After the triplets were born, I continued to chip away at my goal to run a marathon in each of the 50 states (current count: 46) and included lots of stroller training. We made running a team effort in 2016 by setting a Guinness World Record for “Fastest Half Marathon while Pushing a Triple Pram- Female”. A BQ in Bismarck, ND sent me back to Beantown!

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that (for once!) the weatherman was correct about the race day forecast:

My husband was concerned about hypothermia and knows my stubborn streak. He asked me to sit this one out and just enjoy Patriots Day with my friends from college, Heather and Jack, as an indoor spectator. 

I didn’t feel like I had anything to “prove” per se, but I did feel like I need to do it. To me it would be more insane to qualify, come all the way here, leave all 4 kids for 3 days, and not even TRY to run. Plus, I already knew an important fact from my hot weather experience in 2012: the city of Boston will not let you quit! 

I purposely took a late bus to Athlete’s Village, as my concern wasn’t running in the rain (as I’d soon find out, more accurately described as “torrential downpour”). My concern was all the waiting around to begin. Armed with an extra pair of shoes and socks, I showed up with just enough time to use the bathroom, pose with the famous Hopkinton sign, vaseline my face to protect from windburn, and get into dry footwear. 

Temperatures were in the upper 30s, but the “real feel” was 27 when I began at 10:50 am in the third wave. Note: my qualifying time gets faster and faster each year while my wave and corral has been pushed farther back. I’m sure there is a statistic somewhere to support it, but my antidote says a lot about the growing level of talent out there in the running community right now!

What was it like to run in constant showers and gale force winds of 25-40 mph? Miserable. After running for what felt like at least 30 minutes only to look up and see the 1 mile marker, I decided to put in headphones and listen to an audiobook- I needed to dissociate! 

There were many moments where it felt like we were running through a car wash- inches of rain on the ground combined with gusts of wind made for crazy conditions. Still, the city of Boston didn’t disappoint. 

Families were out with rubber boots and umbrellas in Hopkinton handing out high fives. Restaurants were packed with crowds on patios and in parking lots in Framingham and Ashland. The Wellesley “scream tunnel” at mile 13 could be heard from mile 12. Funny and inspirational signs were wrapped in clear trash bags and lining the hills of Newton. Even with a rained out game at Fenway, folks lined the streets 10 people deep screaming their heads off and handing out gear (thanks for the dry socks I used as gloves, random stranger!). 

My finish in 3:40:37 wasn’t my worst time by a long shot but was also about 10 minutes slower than I was training for. Know what? I’m really proud. This race was, hands down, one of the toughest mental and physical challenges I’ve ever been handed. 

Not a single mile of the 26 was comfortable. I found fortitude I didn’t know I had, as did most of the runners out there- 95% of the participants who started on Marathon Monday finished the race. I’d love to say that Boston marathon runners are a special breed, but I know an important fact that has now been twice proven to me first hand: the city of Boston will not let you quit! 

Wrightsville Beach Marathon

I’ve been running marathons for 15 years and had never once felt convicted about participating in Sunday races...then, God opened my eyes. 

We have been studying the Ten Commandments in church and during family worship. There is a lot of debate among Christians about the application of the fourth commandment (“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it Holy”, Deuteronomy 5:7-21) and I’m still studying it. However, that’s not the law I feared I was breaking. Me? My conflict was with the first Commandment (“You shall have no other gods before me”, Deuteronomy 5:7-21). 

What’s the one thing I put before God? I’m embarrassed to admit it, but yes, it’s running. On the single day God has set aside for me to worship Him, I’m doing the very self righteous thing that boosts my ego and takes my eyes off of the Lord.

I’m not interested in convicting other runners who choose Sundays, nor do I think running is an unhealthy activity. That said, I believe it’s a slippery slope when you have something (anything!) other than God you schedule around, think about constantly, and love so much you don’t know what life would be like if it were gone. For me, that thing is running.

I’ve long asked “how can I honor a God through my running?” and knew the answer was not by simply wearing scripture on my singlet. Maybe the way I can honor God through my running is by not running. I made the decision to do no more Sunday races when God put a few runners who race exclusively on Saturdays in my path, which gave me the confidence to take action.

...problem was, I made this decision halfway through a training cycle for All American Marathon which is on Sunday. Providential for me, Wrightsville Beach has a Marathon only one week earlier. I could take advantage of my existing training and honor my decision.

Wrightsville Beach, just outside Wilmington, is only a 2 hour drive from Fayetteville. Preferring to sleep in my own bed and minimize time away from the kids, I drove down the morning of the race. For only $20, I was able to get my race bib and swag mailed to me beforehand; that made the same day trip possible and was worth every penny. 

A lot of folks from Fayetteville Running Club chose this race over All American to avoid the hills in the latter. I’m not as active with the club as I once was (see: 4 kids under age 4) so it was great to take some starting line photos and catch up with the crew! 

I also got to see my longtime running friend, Shannon, who is recently engaged and finishing a PhD program. Surround yourself with people like this and triplets don’t seem like such a time obstacle when training! 

On a pancake flat point to point course, I ran a pretty even race, averaging about 8:15 per mile. I liked that there was a relay option because it gave marathoners the opportunity to run with folks who had fresh legs, including my friend Jessica from 2011 CrossFit in Concord. 

Other highlights during the race: 

•Thomas, our Fayetteville Running Club President back when I was on Leadership, works for this race’s company now and ran with me (in denim jeans!) for a solid half mile. 

•Listening to “Quiddich through the Ages” on audiobook and getting verbally abused by a lady who did not like me playing it on speakerphone, even on a desolate stretch of the course. I’ve never had another runner say anything, let alone flip out like she did. Must be a Slytherin. 

Trey bought me Air Pods for Mother’s Day, so she can chill when I do this race next year.

•Finishing at UNC-Wilmington, where I sold yellow pages (dating myself, aren’t I?!) back in 2003. I ran by a number of apartment complexes, restaurants, and bars we sold to as well. Run down memory lane! 

I finished 113 of 558 overall, 23rd female overall, and 4th (doh!) in my age group with a Boston qualifying  3:34:53. For a woman my age, 3:40 is the standard; however, you must beat it by about 4 minutes if you want to actually run since more people qualify than BAA can accommodate. The Boston Marathon is on a Monday, so its an option for 2019!

Three is a magic number!

Y’all know I like to do things in threes..!

The Southwest series was an opportunity for me to knock off three states in three days. My original goal was to do all three fulls in under four hours, but that was probably too aggressive. The elevation (4500’, 6500’, and 4400’ above sea level) proved to be a worthy opponent and my legs just weren’t having it on days 2 and 3. Here’s how it played out: 

Day 1 (NM): 3:40
Day 2 (CO): 4:01
Day 3 (UT): 4:08

These races, put on by Mainly Marathons, are anywhere from 5 to 9 days long. They are a great way for Marathon Maniacs to level up or have 50 staters get multiple states in a short amount of time. They also have no cut off times, so if a runner is feeling pressure from the larger races (which typically pull folks off course at 6 hours) they’re a good, albeit expensive option at $130 each.

In exchange for those perks, you have to be okay with running 10-12 out and back laps. There’s no chip. Not even a time clock. They don’t close down roads, so the agreement is typically for a 1 or 2 mile stretch with the city recreation department. I imagine the conversation goes like this: “your people can be here for as long as they want but you can’t go outside these couple of miles”.

Even though the scenery in all 3 places (New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah) was amazing it got really old. No podcast, audiobook, or playlist was able to help on the boredom front. I would think you’d need constant conversation from a running buddy to get around this. I knew these races were fat a*s-esque before signing up, but maybe overestimated my ability to keep myself focused. 

I am by no means a super fast runner, but definitely one of the few who showed up to actually race. These events cater to back of the pack runners (exhibit a: there is no podium but the last person to cross the finish is recognized with the caboose award) and this field was here to walk/run and socialize. 

Runners are great people by nature and nobody was outright rude, but several people passive aggressively insinuated I was too serious. It was uncomfortable (and not just due to the volume of running!). I’d recommend these events for others who are in the Mainly demographic (prefer to walk/run, need the assurance of no cutoff time) but won’t be doing another myself.  

Overall, the trip was made amazing by a visit with my Great Uncle and family. I really got to tap into a side of my Dad’s family I had not known before. We lost my Dad to cancer back in February; connecting with them brought closure I didn’t know I needed. 

I also really enjoyed exploring all this area of the country has to offer. In between races and visits, I got to see the Aztec Ruins, be in 4 states at once (AZ, CO, NM, UT) at Four Corners, and saw the Natural Bridges Monument.

In the last 72 hours, I earned States 44-46 and boosted my lifetime marathon count to 52. I’m grateful to be on track to finish all 50 states plus DC by 2021 when I turn 40. After that, I’ll zero in on sub 4 “do over” states and achieving 100 lifetime marathons! 

Maine Marathon

This was a very important race for me because of the training. I became a SAHM recently and really struggled with the lack of specific tasks each day. Motherhood for 4 under 4 years old is a lot of "staying afloat" (changing diapers, preparing food, cleaning, repeat). 

As much as I despised my mile long to do list when I was working, turns out having an item with a clear beginning and end really helps. In this case, it was my daily run- X miles at X pace, cross off when complete.

That said, I enjoyed a great 16 week training cycle with no injuries. Lots of 4 am mornings, as I need to be done with workouts when the kids wake at 7 am.

Trey traveled with me for this race and we made it a long weekend getaway. We arrived Friday morning and met up with our weekend hosts who live just outside Portland, Kristina and Mike. 

Trey knew Kristina from college and, though we ran in similar social circles, I didn't really describe her as a "friend"...until this weekend. This was less a trip to race and more extended quality time that just happened to include a race.

Race day morning came quickly and my support crew drove me to the start. Potty, warm up, National Anthem (leaving out my disgust over the privileged white kids who had the audacity to take a knee during this- that’s a whole other post, whole other blog). 

There was quite a bit of fog at the start but the temperature felt amazing- mid 40s. I focused on running easy in the beginning, as I knew the later miles were hilly. It was really uplifting to see Trey, Kristina, and Mike twice in the first half.

Rather than describing turn by turn (real talk: I’ve got 40+ races on this blog that all sound the same), here are some thoughts I had during the second half of the race:

“Maine is so special. We need to come here more often”

“Why don’t we live here?”

I love out and back courses. Looking at all the people running in the opposite direction is making me forget about everything else!”

“I shouldn’t have eaten all that food yesterday”

“Is Trey riding a bike?”

“This is the mile that will never end. Where IS the finish line?!”

“Finally, a BQ that will actually get me in the race!”

“Ooooh, chocolate milk!”

I finished a very evenly paced race in 3:31:58 (1:45:28 first half, 1:46:30 second), a Boston Qualifying time that will secure my spot for 2019, should I choose to do it. Very proud of this effort- state 43!

Boston via Oklahoma City

The most challenging scenario to be in during a race? When you are close the finish with a decision to make: hold your pace and finish in a respectable time OR put the hammer down and hit a stretch goal.

That's where I found myself in mile 24 of the Oklahoma City marathon. Ironically, it was the exact position I have been in the month prior at All American. There would be no shame in finishing somewhere around 3:42. However, for women my age 3:40 or below is a Boston qualifying time.

Anyone who has run 26.2 miles can agree that when you are 2 miles from the end, you just want to finish. Digging deep for that extra gear is the more challenging choice- it's painful, both mentally and physically. 

...still, that's what I did. 

This had been a great race for me, despite mother natures best attempt at creating additional challenges. We had 3 quick rain showers (just enough to make me grateful for a hat so it didn't get in my eyes) and powerful wind from miles 16- 19 along the lake portion of the course. I may or may not have drafted the 3:45 pace group. There are advantages to being 5'3.

The course took us through downtown, past the state capital, into the historic area (should life ever take me to Oklahoma, I mentally moved myself to Edgemere Park during the race), and up "Gorilla Hill".
Appropriately named, this is arguably the race's most challenging hill. You quickly forget that though, because residents and spectators are out in full force dress as gorillas, handing out bananas, and banging on their chests. It was a blast! 

At mile 11, we ran into Nichols Hills where banners displayed the names of the 168 victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. I was a freshman in high school when this happened, but remember it vaguely. Speaking with locals in Oklahoma City is a lot like asking someone where they were on September 11- they are memories are vivid, fresh, and often personal. This race does a beautiful job of honoring the 168 – this stretch of the course was just one example.

Since both a half and full option was available, the second half was more sparse by comparison, but never felt lonely. Residents and spectators were out in full force, especially in Mesta Park and Heritage Hills.

Back to mile 24. Here's the conversation I had with myself: 

(looks down at watch)
"If I hold it here, I'll get a respectable time and earn my sub 4. It would be a great day" 

"Yeah, but if you pick it up you can Boston Qualify" 

"What do I care? The time wouldn't get me in"

"So, you're okay with ending your spring race season on missing BQ by a minute or two? Wouldn't it be sweet to go out on a high note? Don't you have more in the tank?"

"Nobody will ever know if I just hold this pace and call it a day"

"You're better than that"

...and I was. I earned a Boston qualifying time in 3:38:01 and 8th in my age group, 202 overall (top 10% of entire field). I'm most proud of the last 2 miles and winning the battle with myself. Taking the harder road feels good.