January 19, 2012

Amy, Deena, and Me

For this blog post, I want to hold off reporting about the Trials until AFTER my race report. So, we’ll start with Saturday afternoon.

TP and I took a little nap after the Trials; then hit up dinner at an Italian restaurant with some running friends. After that, we went to the Brooks party downtown. It was great to finally meet fellow blogger, Leah, and see a few other Brooks friends that I met at the coaching clinic this summer. We didn’t stay long, though. We had marathons to run!
Shockingly, I was able to sleep soundly all night. I woke up at 4:00 to drink my Ultra Fuel, but then dozed again for another hour and a half. No joke, we almost missed the start. One of my only complaints about this race is the lack of corral placement. They had only 2 corrals, and it was difficult to get to the front. I know it didn’t *really* matter, but I hate to waste energy trying to pass 4 hour marathoners in the first mile or so.

The longer I race marathons, the more things I learn about my body and how it responds to the distance. One thing I have learned is that I actually don’t feel good the first few miles. It’s like the nervous, spastic running feeling where I’m trying to control my speed, but also my heart rate, mostly caused by nerves, I think.

Miles 1-6- 6:55, 6:49, 6:45, 6:41, 6:37, 6:41
I also thought it as a touch too crowded. I looked forward to Mile 9 when the ½ marathoners would break off. I did get to meet a fellow Brooks runner (Rochelle) and fellow blogger, Candice. I ran with both of them for a few miles. I also made a new friend, Jacob. Jacob and I ran a LOT of miles together until he dropped off for a porta stop. I didn’t see him again after that, unfortunately.

Miles 7-13- 6:49, 6:48, 6:47, 6:50, 6:44, 6:47, 6:48 and I hit the half at about 1:29:1X. I was pleased with this. I knew I was on pace to break 3, but hadn’t outdone myself in the early miles. I was also finally getting into my zone and settling into the pace.

Miles 14-17- 6:47, 6:56, 6:53, 6:47
At Mile 15, I saw Coach Bill from the Woodlands and threw him my gloves. It was nice to see a friendly face out there. I was starting to lose focus. I was ahead of the pace group and red balloons, and was kind of in No Man’s Land.

Miles 18-20- 6:52, 6:56, 6:56 This was when my hamstrings started giving me problems. I felt that tightening feeling and knew that a wall was coming. I’m just wanting to hold on as long as possible. The red balloons (pace group) caught me, and I was able to hold with them for a few miles. My stupid shoelace also came untied at Mile 17- GGGRRR! I have had this problem before with these shoes, but I had triple knotted them, hoping to avoid that. I love the Racers, but if wear them again for a marathon, I will buy some traditional laces.

Miles 21-23- 6:50, 6:49, 6:49 I am already hurting, and I know I’m in for a death march. I’m holding on to the pace with everything I have.

Miles 24-26.2- 7:05, 7:23, 7:37, 2:19 I actually stopped to walk twice. My hamstrings had knives going into them. I knew I was done. No Sub 3 for today.

Final time: 3:00:59
27th Overall Female, 9th in Age Group

Prior to Houston, I told Adrienne that I would need her services if I didn’t break 3 hours. I also reread my last post describing how sick of training I was. Well… then I worked the Olympic Trials. The lessons I took away from the “job” were better than any motivational book I could ever read. While I am hugely inspired by Kara, Desi, and Shalane, the biggest lessons I learned came from Amy and Deena.

Adrienne and I were at the Trials by 6:00, beyond excited for our duties. Within an hour, we were standing wide-eyed and with open mouths watching America’s top distance runners warm up and prepare for their races. Then we spent the next 2 hours watching the race from the finish line, upper balcony of volunteer area, and on the big screen. Adrienne, the big star, went in another direction escort the winner to various engagements.

About 10 of us stood in a line at the finish line exit. Our job was to escort the athlete from the exit to the baggage claim area that was up 2 stories in the convention center. And it’s truth time- I don’t *really* follow men’s distance running. I mean, I know all the top names and who was probably going to win the race, but other than that, I really didn’t know anyone I escorted for the men’s race. After taking a few men to get their bags, and one lady DNF, came the big moment.

See, while waited behind the finish line exit, we didn’t know who was coming out next. So, it was totally by chance that it was my turn in line when Amy Hastings came out. She was sobbing; snot was everywhere; and she was covering her face. It was the most pitiful thing I’d seen in a very long time. I knew from the big screen that she had gotten 4th. More than that, she had taken her turn leading the race. I would describe her marathon performance as strong, courageous, and gutsy. As I led her upstairs, I was probably babbling like a fool. I don’t actually remember what I said to her, but I do remember that it was on the escalator that she dried her eyes a bit, and gave a little smile. She is my role model for guts, determination, and most importantly- passion. To train and train, and have a (possibly) once in a lifetime chance to do something as grand as the Olympics, then to fall a tad short has to be the most heartbreaking thing of all time. Her Trials race is parallel to mine in the lesson that the marathon is an unforgiving beast. You can train for months, only to miss your goal in the last few minutes of the race. It is often out of your control. But, like Amy Hastings showed me, sometimes you have to put it all out there and try. Sometimes you have to run without reservation, take risks, and don’t be afraid to fail. And see, it’s not *really* failing if you come up short. Amy is an Olympic alternate, and I have a new PR. Not only does Amy run for Brooks, but she is also at the very TOP of my running idols list.

After Amy, I escorted the runner behind Deena. I’ve always loved Deena, but Saturday solidified how much I admire her. It’s no secret that Deena wanted a spot on the Olympic Team. In fact, I had my money on her for a spot (figure of speech, didn’t actually bet on the race). She has been such a strong marathoner for YEARS, and if anyone could bounce back from pregnancy and rip off an Olympic spot, it would be Deena. As great as watching the Trials finish, watching Deena exit that finish area was just as great. She plastered a smile on her face, and waved at her fans. Not only that, but she THANKED them for their support. In a time of utter disappointment, she modeled more dignity, poise, and gratitude than I could ever imagine doing in that situation. We often admire athletes for their performance. Not only is Deena the greatest marathoner in the U.S., she has the attitude and demeanor to accompany it.

So, these two athletes led me to not being too disappointed about Sunday’s race. Yes, I wanted Sub 3. Yes, life goes on. Quit? Heck, no. If Deena and Amy can press on, so can I!

(I also published a post earlier today from the First Light Relay, if you are interested.)


  1. Great post Rebecca!! So AWESOME that you got to be there with the top athletes!! I would love to meet Desi!

    I know I keep saying this but you rock! You are my inspiration!

    Run Happy!!

  2. Wonderful report, girl. I knew somehow you'd be ok with the result, moreso that in past races, you seemed to have a peace about it afterwards in your FB posts. And yes, those women are fantastic, I didn't even know about Amy Hastings till last weekend and everything you said about her, gutsy, etc. was completely true.

    As for you, there's no doubt that without the hammy and shoelace, 60 seconds would have been erased off your time, so you've got it, that's the main thing. Your fitness is at the best it's been and this isn't the end. The story continues...

  3. Anonymous1/19/2012

    oh, such a good recap. speaking of tears (which i'm glad were few for you!) /disappointment, I teared up a little today reading this: http://asklaurenfleshman.com/journal/2012/01/18/the-olympic-marathon-trials-and-my-buddy-steph/ ...has one of my fave quotes in the comments too...

    p.s. I love that black and white jacket you are wearing in the bottom photo! Is that from Brooks?

  4. First: What a great race you ran. Solid effort and a mishap with the shoelace- angry hammies and STILL so fast. The photos show it all, especially the one above mile 24.

    Thanks for the OT lessons you shared. These ladies are used to great success, but just like everyone else, they know what it's like to face disappointment- yet they are so gracious in it. Very inspiring!
    Get some good recovery in! maybe you can come to Eugene and run that sub 3- way ahead of me :)

  5. Anonymous1/20/2012

    The only bad thing about racing all day Saturday was missing all the fun and excitement of the Trials. I am more than a little jealous of you all getting to be so close to the action and meet such amazing runners (although I guess I can't complain too too much because I got to meet one of my running idols last week).

    Aside from that, I just wanted to say CONGRATULATIONS on posting another impressive PR. It's really impressive as it is, but for you to have the perspective and not allow being so close but not being sub-3 to ruin what was otherwise a very good race makes it more so. I have no doubt you're gonna do it, and sooner rather than later :)

  6. You are such a beast!!! What's really cool about this report is how analytical and introspective you sounded. Perhaps I'm rubbing off on you! (TOTALLY kidding, but anyway..)

    I keep saying this, but I'm so glad we got to experience the Trials together.

    You PR'ing after all that "work" on your feet the day before-outstanding! :)

  7. As I said on FB, those are great photos that really tell a story - even if it's not the happy ending you wanted!

    Love your account of helping with the Trials. Amy Hastings impressed me no end with her guts.

    (and now that you've mastered OpenID, it's broken on the Dreamwidth side so I can't use it on your site, grrr.)

  8. Wish I could have been back in my hometown for the Trials. Sounds like it was such an awesome experience all around.

    I always love reading your race reports. You put it all out there on the course and I admire that. I'm sure you'll find an extra 60 seconds next time. :)

  9. Great seeing you this past weekend. You ran a great race....3:00 after working the Olympic Trials the day before was a great performance. While not 100% what you wanted...it'll make the day you run a few minutes faster that much better. It won't be long.
    BTW - I have your gloves :).

  10. Anonymous1/20/2012

    Great job Rebecca! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. You did an awesome job on the marathon!

  11. Anonymous1/21/2012

    Those photos are priceless. Let the body heal and try again in 2-3 months.

  12. Oh my gosh, you got to meet Deena and Amy?!?! I would have peed myself a little...that is so exciting!

    Congratulations on your shiny new PR! You deserve it!! I am so happy to hear that your hard work paid off. And yes, there is still a sub-3 in your future. I have faith!

    Have you thought about taking a break? I feel like you've been chasing this goal consistently for a couple years. What if you took a break and did something else for six months to let your body recover? Maybe a triathlon? Do you think that would help? You obviously know MUCH more about marathons than I do...just thinking here.

  13. Ashley, great question. The answer is YES. After The Woodlands Marathon, I won't do another marathon until the fall or NEXT winter. I plan on focusing on some shorter stuff, and beef up my highly neglected strength training. I'm also declaring it Trail Season. There are some GREAT trail races in the spring around here, and I plan to take advantage of that.

    So yes, I'm looking forward to non-marathon training. :)