Monday, August 1, 2016

My Medal Collection Part 1-Running

Over the past 6 years I have raced a lot. My medal collection is massive. They all tell a story, whether an interesting one or a boring one. This is going to be a 3 part series where I tell a summary behind some the stories behind the medals. Today I'm going to start with my running medals.

October 2, 2010- Jacksonville Marine Corps Half Marathon

My first half marathon. 10 months after having gastric bypass surgery running a half marathon sounded like a great idea. It was a big race, but not a huge race, perfect field size for a first. The course had a few hills, but they were all at the beginning so adrenaline got me up and over them. The finish line was fantastic with Marines putting finisher's medals around runner's necks. I learned on the day that finishing a half marathon wasn't too difficult, but if I was to try to race one it would be a tough distance to race. I ran a 2:05 that day. Joel was deployed to Iraq at the time. He was so proud, and impressed by the finisher's medal. When I got home from the race, I couldn't stop looking at this medal, I couldn't believe I ran the whole distance without stopping, just 10 months ago I had been 300 pounds and getting winded walking through a parking lot.

December 19, 2010- Jacksonville Bank Marathon

My first marathon. 13 months after gastric bypass surgery. After the Marine Corps Half Marathon, I had ran 2 more half marathons. After my 3rd half marathon, I decided to take on the marathon distance. I didn't train properly, I didn't know how to. I literally just went for it. Joel returned home from Iraq 6 days prior to race day. On this day I learned a full marathon is a completely different animal than a half marathon. I hurt like I had never hurt before, I felt pain like I had never felt before. I did not walk one step. I ran a 4:17. My support team at the finish line brought me to tears, it consisted of Joel, Loraine, my girls, and one of my Army buddies who lived nearby. It was at this moment that I realized for me personally, having people there for you make the difference between a good race and a great race.

November 24, 2011-Subaru Distance Classic Half Marathon, Jacksonville, FL

Though a plain looking medal, this one represents a big achievement. This race was a few weeks after my first Ironman, and for the first time, I actually trained to run a good half marathon. For the first time with running, my training was focused and dedicated. I wanted to run a sub 1:50 half marathon, and this course was completely flat so I felt I had a good chance. Joel ran this one too, it was his 2nd half marathon, I was so proud of him, his time was well under 2 hours. Our first half marathon together, we ran alongside each other the first 4 miles, on this day I took off and didn't see Joel until the finish line. I ran a 1:48, and was so happy I met my goal after training so hard. It taught me the lessons on working hard, and mental toughness. It was also at this race I was begin to realize my immense ability to suffer.

December 18, 2011-Jacksonville Bank Marathon

My second marathon, I bridged the gap from the Subaru Distance Classic to the Marathon the next month. My goal was lofty, sub 4 hours. I trained hard, mostly solo except for the few times Joel ran with me. Joel ran it too, as his first marathon. He was just trying to finish and I had a goal time so our training and paces were different. We ran our 16 and 18 milers together in training. Even though I had done an Ironman a few months prior, running a fast marathon is a different level of pain. I was in agony around mile 22. Mile 23 and 24 I walked the aid stations. I had to dig deep and just suffer, telling myself suffer now, you have the rest of the day to not run once this is over. I met my goal and finished in 3:56. Joel finished 36 minutes after me. After finishing, and seeing what a marathon is like, Joel was so impressed with my time. The greatest thing about Joel running this marathon, was from there on out, at tough endurance events, he knew about the pain, and the level of suffering to endure these things. I still have yet to run a 3rd stand-alone marathon.

February 9, 2013 Hilton Head Island Half Marathon

I know its a big time gap from the last picture. 2012 I did 4 half ironmans, and didn't do as many running races. The few I did were nothing spectacular and nothing to write home about. At this point I had several half marathon where my time was 1:48 and I was looking to break that. Joel had deployed to Afghanistan months before the race. I was emotionally hurting on the inside at this time in my life, and I used that internal turmoil to run this race. I was angry, I felt it in my stomach. I used that anger and pain to just run. I was hurting, teeth gritting, nearly in tears. I ran a 1:44, a huge PR, nearly puking at the finish line. I didn't feel any better, and I hated the way that I felt. I don't talk about this race much because it represents a dark time. If this is the only way I can run that fast, then I never want to run that fast again.

November 9, 2013 Savannah Rock n Roll Half Marathon

I had no business running this race. I had fallen into a deep depression after 2013's Ironman Louisville, where I had worked so hard and fell dramatically short of my own expectations. Joel had returned home from Afghanistan a few month prior, and was running the full marathon. That race morning I didn't even want to do the race, I was still pissed off about Ironman. This is a huge race, roughly 20,000 people. Joel started several waves behind me, I was in wave 3. I had an uneventful run in 1:47 and just wanted it to be over. Here's is why I included this medal here, it was the day I never felt so alone at a race, ironically a big race. I waited 3 hours for Joel to finish after me, all alone, 20,000 people plus spectators and I had never felt so alone in my life. This is where I got my disdain for huge races. This is also the race where I decided to not be a part of Team RWB anymore.

January 11, 2014-Savannah Rails to Trails 50k

My first, and so far only, ultra. I have discussed this day many times, as it nearly caused my demise. I had my best run training cycle ever leading up to this race. I managed to let go of the disdain I carried from Rock n Roll to focus on this race. I ran four 20 milers in training, 2 of them being mostly on trail. I felt so ready, and excited, for race day. I loved the race, the scenery was beautiful and it was so well put together. I thought during the race "I want to do more ultras". Joel was there for support, and it meant the world to me. This is one of those race that strengthened our bond, I still smiles at the memories together from this race. I ran a 5:09. Five days later I nearly died as my intestine ruptured during the race and I didn't know, I had emergency surgery and it was a long road back to recovery.

March 15, 2014-Hilton Head Shamrock 5k

My first race after my intestine rupture. I just wanted to get back out there, I wasn't looking to get a podium spot. After surgery I had a big-time attitude adjustment (much needed I might add) and started to realize what is important in life. I had given so much of myself to racing it nearly killed me. My PRs will not be on my headstone. What I remember about this race, Hugs from Joel at the start and finish line, and our breakfast date at Cracker Barrel on the way home. This medal was for second place age group after running a 23:55. To me, this medal represents a new chapter in my life.

May 3, 2014-Crimestopper Azalea Run 10k Savannah, GA

I have never been a fan of the 10k distance, why, because I never knew how to race it. I know how to race a 5k, I know how to race a half marathon, but the 10k had always been a big mystery. This was the day I learned how to race a 10k. I ran a 47:52 and this medal is for 1st place age group. It hurt, a lot, but I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. The race was nearby the bike shop where Joel went on his group rides, so we rode together, he went on his group ride and I ran my race. He made it back in time for the awards ceremony, I love the way he looks in his cycling kit. We showered at the gym after that and went on a lunch date out in Savannah.

September 21, 2014-Konquer the Konza 25k Manhattan, KS

My first running race in Kansas. The Konza Prairie is the most beautiful place I've ever had the chance to run at besides the beach. The race taught me about Kansas hills, and what was in store for my running life in my new home. I finished in 2:23, a tough race but a rewarding one. A woman I had been coaching for years ran this race too, and I stayed for her finish and ran her in. The race was sponsored by Tallgrass Brewery, Joel absolutely loves all their beers. Runners could have all the post race beers they wanted. People were starting to leave but the coolers were still overflowing with cans of their beer. I starting stuffing my backpack with as many as I felt I could get away with for Joel.

November 15, 2014-Longview Half Marathon, Kansas City, MO

My first half marathon after my intestine rupture, as well at my first half marathon in Kansas. Another first, it was my first half marathon in sub freezing temperatures. It was 14 degree that morning, I had on all the gear. It was a hilly course but I learned that since I have short legs, I can run down the hills quickly to make up for time lost on the climbs. Joel was out there to support me, he was at mile 7 cheering and again waiting for me at the finish line. After all I had been through the months prior with emergency surgery and moving halfway across the county, I was so happy to run a 1:48 that day.

December 6, 2014-Alternate Chili 10 Miler Kansas City, KS

Another below freezing race. This race taught me that not all trails are created equal. This was on a bridle trail, very slick and muddy, it was a 10 mile fight to stay upright. I fell down some hills, fell going around corners, and struggled on the rope climbs, but I never felt so alive. My shoes and legs were completely covered in mud at the finish. I finished in 2:15

May 23, 2015-Bill Snyder Highway Half Marathon Manhattan, KS

It was neat to run the inaugural race, and the medal is awesome, but this race made me realize I don't care much for the road running crowd around here. I had a lot more fun at Konquer the Konza and at the Alternate Chili 10 miler. I have always felt the people really make the race. Joel ran this race too but I got ahead and lost him around mile 2. I ran a 1:49

April 9th, 2016-Rock the Parkway Half Marathon Kansas City, MO

The largest medal in my collect. During this time, I had returned to Kansas State University to finish my bachelors. I was serious this time around, and was in full on school fatigue. After Ironman Louisville 2015, which was the race of my life, I really started buckling down on the other aspects of my life. Being the best wife I could be, being the best mom I could be, being a good friend, finishing what I started many years ago (school). I didn't train for this race, I just showed up, literally. It was another freezing day, I couldn't even feel my feet until close to mile 3. I ran a 1:54 and I wasn't even mad. For me, this large medal represents balance, the start of another new chapter. I'm no longer obsessed with training, my training and racing never comes before my family, I put school over training and racing. Right now I'm just running, and I fit that in where I can. Looking at just doing cyclocross and running next year, and finishing my degree and joining the work force again

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