It goes without saying that running is my most favorite thing to do in the history of ever. Four and a half years ago, on my 36th birthday when I decided that I wanted to add "run a marathon" to my bucket list, little did I know how running would impact my life, aid in my own self discovery, broaden my horizons, help me overcome and deal with many things in my life and become a vital part of my being. To anyone thinking if starting running, be warned, running will change your life.
The month of November has always been a favorite month of mine, besides Halloween, Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of mine. November is always a month filled with races, and extra distance can be gotten in as temperatures are quite nice, another benefit, the beautiful scenery.
I digress just a tad back to a Friday in November, just a random one I decided to take off work, so I could get in some extra miles. So I started out my front door, my usual route, water bottles dropped like Easter eggs along my way, and off I go. Half mile in I notice, a guy running on the opposite side of the road. He asked if he could run with me. I asked him if he was Ray. I responded yes as we had met at the Harbison 50K in January, my first attempt at an ultra, which I completed. I replied sure. Then he asked how far I was going. I said that I didn't know, I just go on feel, if I feel good? I keep going, feel bad, I loop back home. He said ok and we took off. 23 1/2 miles later, he dropped me at my house and then went on to run back to his house. Honestly, thought that'd be the only time I'd have the company of Ray while running.
If you don't know who Ray Krolewicz is, google the name and find out why it was perfect timing, but isn't that just life? Here's a quote from a Kung Fu movie: "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." And so he did.
So began a fast friendship, coaching advice and guidance toward the pr streak of November and as I was reminded, the month isn't over yet.
Governors Cup 11/09/13
Couple days before the race, I decided to sign up. Talked to Ray and said I want a pr, asked him would he pace me. He said he'd bandit in a run with me. And so he did. The race was pretty uneventful, felt easy, and I did pr ~ 1:48:15 on a really tough, hilly course. I came in 40th overall, 4th in my age group, all after having run 100 miles during the week where most people taper.
During the race I commented to Ray that I had just pr'd across the board on the way to a half marathon. I was thrilled.
The week following, I felt so good, my running continued to get stronger, not being sore and just the love to run, I saw my next carrot. I wanted to go do Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon. I ran it by Ray as I didn't want to do something stupid before the 50k that was planned for November 23, Mad Marsh. He said if you want to do it, sign up and do it. Well, imagine my dismay when I clicked on register now on the website and "registration closed" popped up. I was crushed.
Then, I get an email from Ray, he told me what to say in an email to the race director, requesting late registration. I emailed the race director on Wednesday evening.
I had my fingers crossed, wished on everything I knew I could wish in and sat on the edge of my seat. Thursday morning, went for my run, got home checked my email. I had a response. I was in!!!!
I booked a hotel, called my friend and Super Sherpa, Laura Howell and asked if she wanted to road trip on Friday after work. She was willing to come along for the ride.
Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon 11.16.2013
This would be my third time running the marathon in Charlotte, I ran the half once. I knew the course, knew when to push and I knew it rolled. Hills! Hills! My breakfast daily and my favorite, favorite type course of all time.
This race to was pretty uneventful (meaning I ran, no stomach issues, never walked a step) the support is fantastic, highly recommended for anyone who has never done it. Charlotte peeps stop their cars and cheer runners on, they don't try to plow runners over...imagine that.
Finish time; 4:00:39 after another 100 mile week. I finished in the top 1/3 of the race overall, 13th out of 60 in my age group and 70th out of 286 females.
Recovery run the Sunday after, I felt like I was flying. No soreness and I was so jacked on adrenaline....and looking so forward to the 50k the next weekend.
Mad Marsh 50k
I had decided I want to hunt down another pr. I'm racing against myself and trying to improve me, not worried about anyone's times.
I have my Crew chief with me, my seventeen year old daughter, Hannah. We check into our hotel after driving down. Drive over to packet pick up, map out how far to the race course we are and decide on dinner. I'm going over our game plan. I have everything mixed up, packed in a cooler and waiting for the next morning.
Ray had said he may come down, may not be at the start but hopefully would be there before the finish.
Hannah and I had dinner. She said she really wanted to go back to the hotel and just relax and watch movies. Perfect evening for me, and ended up for her. We were both asleep by 8.
4:00 comes pretty early. I was relaxed, showered, woke her up and we left.
It was dark at the start, I had never run in the dark, not on a trail with a flash light. I sat her chair up, made sure she was ok, knew what to do for me and then I hear, hello Pam. It was Ray. He said I'll join you on the last few loops. Introduced him to Hannah, they both photographed the day.
6:30 start time.
Seven 4.5 mile loops, trail, flat, and hot and humid. Beaufort has no mercy, even in November, Charlotte the week before was 47 degrees and overcast, pretty close to no humidity. And the governors cup, 30 something, also great running conditions.
So needless to say, it was hot. The loops seemed to fly by, so fast I being so excited about running, feeling like an animal uncaged getting to run, took off. Third loop in, I had only taken in one gel, stupid rookie mistake, due to conditions, hadn't stayed hydrated enough.
Then Ray stepped in and said he was taking over. I told him I was hungry. He said eat. I had a couple potatoes, no effect. Next loop, and here's where the gummy bear sandwich comes into play. When I came through this time, I couldn't find Hannah, she was there, had not moved, but my brain was gone, lack of what?!?!? Sugar. For whatever reason I can to tolerate peanut butter, makes me throw up, I was on the hunt for just bread, or a plain bagel. Ray found a piece of loaf bread, best thing I ever, just plain old bread. I ate it like it was steak, then some gummy bears. Oh sweet Jesus, who'd ever thought gummy bears and white bread would be race food of choice! On the next loop, which was 23+ I felt better than I had the earlier loops, every loop I was getting stronger at the end. I was given a time limit I had to down these fluids. I was doing it. I had started having chills, no nausea though, so fluids were increased more.
Then the race turned into a game. Landmarks were being set, people were in front of me, Ray running beside me, singing, talking and challenging me. He said start collecting pink socks. He'd say 5 people ahead, reel em in. On my last loop, I moved up twelve places in the race. I was heading into a pr. Ray would say, there's your next group, close in. Close in and pass. And I did. From miles 23 to 31.5 I felt better than I had during the first half of the race. And I did just that, I pr'd
I was so happy, grateful my daughter had been my crew chief, thankful for my end of race pacing from Ray and that he took over nutrition, for me.
So there was the three-peat.
Hannah said she had fun, that time went by fast. Ray had given her his camera to use and she photographed mid race set of photos. She has a good eye.
I drove back home, she slept, she had to work Saturday evening. I wasn't sore, not stiff, just sleepy.
I went to bed early, so when she came in from work, she came in my room, rubbed my back and asked if I was sick and if I was in pain. I responded that I was just sleepy and that I was fine. She was taking care of her mom.
So now comes Sunday morning...and the waterworks begin. I sat on the side of my bed. Face in my hands, elbows on my knees and sobbed uncontrollably. I knew what this was and had already planned races in the future, but they seemed so far away. I just cried. Post pardum race depression. I have experienced this before.
My recovery run helped subside it. And again, I'm not sore. There's something magical about 100 mile weeks. But even more magical is the runners high, that feeling of being able to fly...adrenaline, sweet adrenaline...my drug of choice.
Running has changed me forever, makes me a better person.
This year has been a roller coaster of a ride for me, so what do I do? Lace up my shoes of course and run off the bad and run toward the good. Smile, cry, laugh, and talk it out.
The good has definitely outweighed the bad, I have my mom, our relationship is stronger than ever. I wouldn't change that for the world.
Life is good, November has been good to me, the road my best friend and finding out just what I'm made of, priceless. And there's still so much to discover about me, after all running is personal to me...
Gummy bear sandwich anyone?