My second marathon was on May 20, 2018. It took place in Sugarloaf, ME. The reason I was running this had to do with my coach. Lynn Gray was planning for this to be her final marathon. It's the reason she trained with me and my friend Kevin McDonald was doing this as his first marathon. Clearly committing to running a second marathon before I had even run one was a gamble, but I thought it made sense and I knew I'd be trained. As time went on in our training months, Lynn would often tell me that Big Sur was my training run for Sugarloaf. I got what she meant. I knew I wouldn't run the full distance until I was in Big Sur, but I didn't really get what it all meant until I actually did it.
Unfortunately one week prior to this marathon Lynn fell and fractured her hip, so she dropped out of the race and so did a few others from our group who were planned to attend. As upsetting as this was, I knew we needed to carry on and run in Lynn's honor. Lynn was very happy to see us push on and represent the club.
This race was vastly different from Big Sur. It was a real runner's race. We saw so many people with Boston jackets on as many were coming out in hopes of getting a BQ! It was an unusual day. We were not able to get a clear read on what the weather was going to be. High chances for rain and cool conditions was what we prepared for. Despite the forecasted rain chances, we were lucky to not have rain the entire time. It did help to keep us cool during the entire marathon, so that was a positive.
For this race, I decided I would not take any pictures. I really wanted to shave off a lot of time in the race to get closer to my goal of 5 hours. Little did I know that some things would happen at the end of the race that pushed me to go even faster. First off I fully expected to be the last person in my group to make it to the finish. This is how I went into the race, so when I got to mile 22 and saw my friends I was shocked. I hadn't seen them the entire race. Kevin was just ahead of me doing a combination of walking and running - I knew something was off. When I finally caught up to him he shared with me that both his legs had started cramping mid way into the race. He was calm about it and kept pushing on. He told me to go ahead. Next I came up by Jessica and Jen, they had started the race an hour early as they planned to do a walk run combo throughout the entire race. Despite that, I still never expected to see them until the finish. Jessica yelled at me to go for it. She said you are so close, you can make your goal. Before I could even think I had picked up the pace running as fast as my feet could muster in those final miles. I finished the race in 5 hours and 15 minutes, this was 21 minutes faster than my time from Big Sur. Without that encouragement right there at the end I am not sure if I would have had such a huge time gain.
I am beyond grateful for everyone who supported me and know now that you always have to expect the unexpected in the marathon distance. Sometimes it can bring you challenges and other times it can bring you joy -- either way -- there is more inside of you that you can pull from to push there. This is the epitome of what I adore about running. Perseverance!
Kevin really captured the spirit of perseverance on this day, pushing on with cramped legs for the 2nd half of the race. I don't know how he did it, but I do know this says a lot about his character to never give up, while it may not be the result he expected to end up with on race day, he kept on going and to me that is so much more meaningful than any time clock will ever capture. In all, these were two amazing races that have shown me once again that I am capable of so much more than I ever knew. Through the training process too, my friendships with both Lynn and Kevin were taken to a new level. I feel so fortunate and grateful to be part of such a great running club. This is my running family!
Let's get out there and explore this amazing country together! Please contact me if you have any other suggestions for our list.
Happy New Year to all!
As you may know by now, I am signed up for my first full marathon to commence next April in Big Sur, California. What you may not know is that I've also signed up for the Sugarloaf Marathon in May, just 3 weeks later, in Carrabassett Valley, Maine. Honestly I have no idea if I will be able to do both, but I fully expect to be trained to do it by that point. I couldn't miss out on the opportunity to join Lynn in her 100th marathon. Wow, 100 marathons! It's quite staggering to consider the amount of miles Lynn has run up to this point. It will be a fantastic group trip. Several of us are in for the full & a few are signing up for the 15K. If you want to join us, sign up soon. This race fills up fast!
Fueling this marathon fever even further, I am planning to run in the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K and USATF 5K Championships in New York City on November 4. This race happens the day prior to the New York City Marathon. This is the shakeout run that many of the Olympians and elite athletes do the day before the race. I've never been more excited to run a 5K than I am for this one. How cool, to "run" with the Olympians! I also plan to volunteer at the NYC Marathon Expo and of course see the race in action since I will be there. Who knows, maybe I will want to run the full marathon in NYC next year too! The best part of the 5K (besides the Olympians) is the fact that the finish line is the same one as the marathon. So I only have to run 3.1 miles to cross the line!
Proof is in our picture, this was taken on Sept 9 just before the start of our race. Check out our jackets! I kept mine on until around mile 2. 50's-60's is really ideal running weather for me anyways ;-)
If you are staying here and want to cool off, Lynn has gotten us hooked on ice water stops throughout our long runs. If you plan ahead this is a great way to keep cool for distance running. Lynn suggests putting your water jugs into the freezer around 8:30 or 9 pm the night before. If possible have ice water available every 3 miles or so. We like to pour it down our backs or on our heads. Yes you may shriek because its freezing, but it's really the best & fastest way to cool the core temperature down. Here's to hoping cooler temps are on the way for us sooner rather than later!
For those who know this race, you may be wondering how I got in so quickly. It's typically a lottery drawing to get into this race. Well what I learned is if you read through everything in detail, there are ways to get in guaranteed if you play your cards right. I registered through Runner's World as part of their VIP program. It's slightly more expensive than the already outrageous cost of this race, but the value far exceeds the money they charge. They offer lots of perks, like free training, special access for VIPs, extra goodies, etc. If you are interested in joining me, check out the registration site here for the VIP entry. You'll be hearing lots more from me to come as we get closer in. Now Lynn says I just have to make 13 miles my "easy run." Haha, that should be fun, but it seems I must've had this in mind already. I have 3 half's coming up starting in September-Nov (who knows it may even end up being 4). So by the time I get through all of those, it should be easy right?! :-D
I said early on, my goal is to run every race VR has on their list. The list is still growing, so it may take me a while to complete, but if I do one a year I think I can get there. It's such a great way to experience the beauty of our national parks. The races often take place just outside the park perimeters. VR also does a lot to encourage runners to participate in hikes in the area.
Smoky Mountains Half Marathon is one that I've looked at a number of times. It's coming up on September 9, 2017. This could be an easy road trip up. I've also scoped out a number of great rental cabins in the area starting at $99 a night. If you've never done a Vacation Races race, this would be a great intro. On Raceraves.com, this race has a score of 4.8 out of 5 from 30 reviews. If I haven't sold you yet, be sure to check out this video from the VR team. It's from a few years ago, but still great. This year will be it's 6th year in the Smokies.
If you join me, you can add one of these beauties to your medal collection. Let me know if you are interested!
It all started with a simple Facebook ad about an upcoming half marathon through Rocky Mountain National Park. That is when my running journey began (again). RMNP is simply one of the most breathtaking parks I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. I thought to myself what an awesome way to experience it from a whole new perspective on foot!
I met Lynn Gray in January of 2015 and the rest is history. She helped me train for my first half marathon that would take place in August of 2015 in the Rockies. Prior to meeting Lynn I was coming off a long hiatus of running from a stress fracture injury and my longest run was a 5K, so I was essentially starting over from square one. Needless to say Lynn stood by me and helped me to discover how to push myself further than I could have ever imagined was possible. I completed that half marathon, which many say is likely one of the hardest races anyone could choose (especially for their first & for being from Florida).
Ever since, I've continued to seek out new destinations to continue the journey. There is no better way to truly experience a destination than to run through it. Little did I know when this all started it would become one of the greatest joys of my life.
I am excited to now have the opportunity to share this passion with you, my fellow TTFS club members. I plan to keep this site updated with monthly activities for half marathons that are destination oriented. Some may be far, far away and others might be right here in Florida. Don't forget we are fortunate to live in a place many travel to as their destination of choice!
Lynn Gray is an RRCA Coach and runs the TTFS Club in the Tampa Bay area. I am fortunate to be part of this club & am now the acting Travel Director who will be helping to coordinate destination races for the group. For more information on Lynn's programs be sure to check out her site!