I’m Back!

Hello everyone. It’s been awhile. I really need to start posting more often! A lot has happened since February. It has probably been the most eventful 6 months of my life, and there are more things to come in the next few months. This post will quite long if I talk about everything that’s happened, but I will try.

My low self confidence I mentioned in the last post hasn’t improved much. Although I have proved myself wrong with many of those “I can’t”s, so that helps. Yes, I did get through the semester and graduate. I didn’t get straight As, but I’m okay with that now. I got into two graduate schools: Georgia Tech and UC Davis. I choose Davis mostly because California is awesome, and Davis is full of bike-riding hippies. Who cares if it’s on the opposite side of the country from North Carolina, where my boyfriend is going, and the school isn’t as prestigious as Georgia Tech? And it’s not in a big city (like Austin or Atlanta), which I prefer to small cities and towns (like Davis)? Sometimes I think I made the wrong choice, but I can’t do anything about it now so I might as well make the best of it. Part of making the best of it was apparently looking up what awesome races I want to do in California. I’ve even added the ones that I plan to do the rest of 2012 and 2013 (and a 2014 ultra!) to my new races page, and signed up for some of them. This has helped immensely with my anxiety about grad school and moving to California. At least I have something to look forward to, even if it’s not my coursework or research.

As for running a full marathon? Yep, I can do that! I started training in March after my shin splints were gone (at least until May, anyway). I had a few mediocre races this spring (the Capital 10K, the Austin Half Marathon, the Austin 10/20 10 Miler). Not much to say about them, but I didn’t meet my goal of taking 10 minutes off my Capital 10K time from last year–try 28 seconds. But from March to July, I stuck to my training plan as much as possible without getting injured/making my shin splints worse when they came back in May. On July 3rd, I went to Portland, Oregon along with my very supportive parents and boyfriend. The next day, I ran in the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon on Sauvie Island. This was a good race due to its proximity to Portland (a major plus when you’re vegan or just a hipster!), the fact that it’s flat (no reason to make your first marathon harder than it needs to be with hills), the weather (I was cold standing at the start line! It was 50 F!), and the beautiful location. I was also small, with about 400 finishers in the full marathon, which can nice and peace (but maybe too lonely for some people).
Here are my mile splits from my Garmin:

The first 14 miles were a breeze. I’m glad I wore my No Meat Athlete t-shirt for this race, because I met someone who is vegan around mile 6 who saw my shirt, and saw a couple other people wearing a No Meat Athlete shirt. Miles 15-17 weren’t bad, and I even got to see my parents and boyfriend waiting for me at the aid station right before the mile 17 marker. I stopped to give my boyfriend a big, sweaty hug, and then sprinted through the aid station to make up the time lost. I was so happy to see them there, and it was just what I need at that point in the race, when things were starting to get difficult. I was about to go up the only real hill on the course! It normally wouldn’t have been a big deal, but after running 17.5 miles, it was, and I actually ended up walking up it. The worst part of the race was miles 18-20. It’s said that mile 20 is the real halfway point of a marathon, but for me miles 21-26.2 were actually easier mentally and physically than miles 18-20. Maybe it was the hill, maybe it was knowing that I still had over an hour to go, maybe I bonked (I don’t think so though). From mile 18 on, I started doing a lot of walking, pulling a lot of 14 minute miles. When I think about it I always feel a pang of embarrassment and guilt, like I didn’t actually “run” my marathon, since I included some walking in the last 8 miles. I just felt like I couldn’t walk another 10 feet, much less another 6-8 miles.

In training my longest run was 20 miles, so I was worried about the 6.2 miles of mystery, but they weren’t bad. I had accepted the fact to if I wanted to finish pleasantly, it was okay to take walking breaks when I need them. I felt like I was on a long journey though the countryside, like a road trip on foot. Even though most people were out of sight ahead of me, I didn’t feel lonely. When I was about 1.5 miles from finishing, I decided to just go for it, and not take any more walking breaks, even if it hurt, even if I had to run slowly. I crossed the finish line with an official time of 5:14:19, not too bad for my first marathon, and with plenty of room for a big PR for my second marathon. I rushed over to meet my parents and boyfriend, who had waited patiently for over 5 hours for me! Then I went over to the side to wait for the burning soreness from my waist down to subside a bit before we left to eat lunch at an awesome vegan restaurant. At first, I wasn’t hungry or thirsty, was just so so sore. After lunch I took a long nap, something that had become a post long run ritual during my training, and seems to help me get over the soreness quicker.

I think this is enough for this post, but I will work on another one tonight and probably get it posted by tomorrow, there is more I would like catch up on.

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