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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Marathon PICS! and some thoughts on "perspective"

Before I post all the pictures from my marathon, I want to say a few things. I normally just rush through my posts b/c I have 2 kids that are always needing something, an overflowing inbox for wedding inquiries and a husband who will roll his eyes and start lecturing me about time management if he knew how long I spent writing on here:)

BUT.....I feel like this post is an important one and one that a lot of us runners need to hear.

Since the marathon on Saturday, I have, naturally, had time to think and 'process' what happened.
It was like fighting an inner battle to be proud of my achievment and also critisize myself and be miserable over missing my time goal.

I am not sure WHY so many of us runners focus on numbers, but we do. At least I do! I am always looking at my paces, comparing my runs, my races, and figuring out just how fast I think I can run that next race. For me, I label my goals as "Successful" or "Unsuccessful" by whether or not I hit the TIME GOAL I set.....somehow completely disregarding all the external factors that played a part in that race. Like somehow,I am super women and should be able to run the same speed in Freezing temperatures or blazing hot temps. On a flat course or a hilly one. ....it just doesn't make sense.
and so it was with my marathon.
I had been training and running so that I should easily be able to hit a 3:20 or better.
A 3:20 is a 7:38 pace...and I was CONFIDENT (and still am) that if I can run 20 miles at 7:29 pace that SURELY with race day adrenaline etc, I can run faster than a 7:38pace for 26 miles.

And so...when everything started to fall apart at mile 14-17 on Saturday, I was confused, discouraged and left feeling a tad bit devastated. Nothing was playing out as I had invisioned it for SO many months!

Now here is the part I am getting to.

In a conversation with my husband Sunday night, somehow the part about times etc came up and he looked at me and said (as he has on many other occasions).
"Nicole, time doesn't matter! it is just a number, it is completel irrelevant!". I rolled my eyes thinking to myself: He doesn't get it!
but as the conversation continued he said some pretty important things that I think actually may have sunk into my thick running skull!

I am so bad at trying to re-itterate wonderful things that people say..it always sounds so much less "impactful" when I say it ,but I will try to put "in essence" what he said here:

Yes, you could probably have run that 3:20 or better.....IN 50-60 degree weather, AT sea level as you've trained, WHEN you hadn't just been sick with the flu, AND had been sleeping in your own bed ...ETC ETC ETC. The list goes on.

Nicole, you were FAST! (this is when I started to cry).

Why did I feel like I wasn't fast?

b/c my pace was 8:14 and that is usually my easy pace? yes. Pretty much.

But I was the 7th female to cross that finish line even after stopping over 10 times b/c I thought my legs were going to fall out from under me and I was going to pass out from heat exhuastion.

He went on to say ...IF ANYTHING, when looking at how you did in a race, look at how you placed among everyone else that trained just like you did!and ran in the EXACT SAME CONDITIONS that you did!. The number is IRRELEVANT.
(I think Britt gave a great example of this out look when she shared her race report in super WINDY conditions on Sunday).

In a 5K, not everyone trains right? some people just show up to walk it, some people just wing it, but in a MARATHON, EVERYONE trains. No one just shows up to run a marathon.
When I think that I placed in the top 3% of the women that ran that race, it suddenly makes me realize that I ran a really good race and did really well for my first marathon. Especially when I have only been training for 7 mos. and have NO prior running history. Do you see where I'm getting to? we are ALL different! We can't compare ourselves with ANYONE b/c they are not us and we are not them. There is such a vast combination of factors that make up who we are and our own individual abilities. So for the first time since Saturday, I can say I AM PROUD OF MYSELF:) few! I said it. and yes, I mean it. For THAT race, I did very well.

I am not saying I will no longer have time goals, of course I will, or that I dont' care about how fast I can run, but I have learned that there is a place for these goals to fit into the big picture but they are NOT the big picture themselves.

Last year, I set a goal that I wanted to place in the top 10% of all my races and I think that maybe that is a better way to measure my goals since every race and race condition itself is different.

I also talked with my coach and he gave me some useful information to help me make sense of everything on saturday.
He told me that Heat in long distance running effects everyone differently, and usually effect women more than men. interesting. also, if you have recently been sick, it can effect you more ( I had the flu 1 week before my race). I wonder if internally I hadn't quite healed all the way.
He shared more with me that helped me make sense of why I was feeling the way I was so early on in the race.
I also spoke to the race director b/c I wondered what happened to the female racer who was going out for a 2:46 in this marathon to qualify for Olympic trials and he told me she dropped out at mile 14 due to heat exhaustion! funny that is right about when i started to really notice it...maybe a bit earlier..about mile 12.

Anyway.....all that being said, i have learned from this race. I have learned that I need to broaden my perspective on this journey of mine. It can't just be about running a 3:15 or a 1:28 (on July 4), it needs to be about training hard and embracing every effort I put into each race.
I WILL have bad races and good races. Not every single race is going to give me the best weather, the flattest roads etc. and I feel like now, instead of ONLY seeing numbers and basing my success or failure on that, I can focus more on just being MY BEST, healthiest self.

I will admit I am going through running withdrawls right now....especially since I tore a muscle and can't run for a few weeks....or really SHOULDN'T. I'm worried that i'm gonna get to that crazy point where I just HAVE TO run and then do more damage....and it doesn't help that we leave for Maui in 12 days and I really dont' want to put on 10lbs before then. grrr.

So!.....onto the pictures that sum up this beautiful, amazing, not what I had planned, experience!:) MY. FIRST. MARATHON:)
** Thank you to my talented husband for all the photos! there are MORE than I could ever need to remember this day well! :)

(click on photos to see them larger~ sorry they look so small)

The night before at Dinner with My dad and Susan. I was SO
blessed to have them there. My dad was so excited to come support me and
it made me feel SO special! thank you dad for flying all the way there
to see my run my first marathon! I love you!
The hubs and I:)
Race day morning! BEAUTIFUL!
all my clothes laid out and ready to go! thanks for the tip Valerie

ready to go!
I love this shot! the sun was just coming up! about 5:45am. I LOVE early mornings!
they feel so spiritual to me:)
I will never forget the feeling I had as I got ready to go run this 26 miles!
doing my drills:)
Love my Brooks Launches!
The beautiful Harmony from Keep on Keeping On
(click on the link to read her race report)
this women is a doll! I just fell in love with her!
This is my EXCITED face!
see ya!
and I'm off!!!
Here I am at mile 4:) feeling good but HOT ! I could not WAIT
to pass my hat off to Susan!
so happy to see some familiar faces!

Here I am coming in at Mile 8
(the girl behind me in the pink tank was the one who came in 3rd last year at 3:22 and this year ran 3:46:(:( )
I'm telling dad and Susan how HOT I am!! I was really startin' to feel it
and as you can see...NO SHADE!
Great shot! my husband set this up with off camera flash! I don't
even remember seeing him:)
MILE 12!!
Here I come at mile 17.5...I pretty much want to die by this point
everything feels WRONG but I am trying to hang in there.
more water ON the head!

almost walking.....needed to get some water down
I dont' remember what I was saying here but something about
how TIRED I was.
Mile 22. enough said. I had just ran what felt like 5 miles up hill.
hating my life lol.

right after they took this picture is when I felt the sharp shooting pain go up my
leg. I stopped and then kept going but I stopped at least 5 more times between
here and the finish to try and nurse it.

Iloved your sign Susan! thank you! xoxo
I love you Dad!
here I come at Mile 25 w/ Steve by my side.

when I read the signs, I just starting BAWLING!
that's what my ugly crying face looks like after running 25 miles
in the heat! lol
Thank Goodness, it's OVER!:)
7th female to cross the finish line!:):)
A feeling of relief and devastation. but I did it.
checking out the results
talking to my mom:) made me cry AGAIN!
Let me explain this picture! lol...I told steve to take a picture of my
legs b/c this might be the best shape they are ever in! lol
My whole life I have been thin but never "in shape" so I am enjoying that
I finally have a TINY bit of muscle!!

The support team!
here comes Harmony!!!
You did it girl! sub 4!!!
Love her!
we did it!!!
My love:)
SUCKS! I had to stay in bed all day/night like this from about 3pm on:(:(
while Steve, Dad and Susan enjoyed the city.
Today I can walk almost normally for the first time:)
Love this picture!
thanks family!
I love you

and thanks to Lacey for watching my girls for 3.5 days!, she is the bestest friend a girl could ask for!


  1. I am not surprised you have a new perspective a few days later. Once the initial disappointment is past, we can look at a race with new eyes. So glad you listened to your husband! He is right. You ran an incredible race under very difficult circumstances!

  2. Oh my gosh!! This made me cry!!! You are such an inspiration, more than you know! What an accomplishment. Thank you for sharing the journey

  3. I am glad to see that you are taking another look at this race and how your opinion has started to shift :)

    Yeah, seventh overall female in your first full isn't too shabby :))

    Love the photos too! Get some good rest!

  4. Nicole:

    A womans strength is the most powerful force in the universe.

    You showed the feirce determination you had and finished against the odds of the heat. Way to go girl you are one very focused woman and have accomplished a full marathon. Thank you for allowing me to be part of the process. The pictures are wonderful and tell the story completly.


  5. Glad to hear that your perspective has shifted. :)
    The pics are great, but I kinda hate you for looking so fabulous before, during, and after a marathon. =P LOL

  6. Your husband is SO smart!
    I LOVE the picture of you tying your shoe on the balcony in the sunrise. Perfect! It made me think of summer - something I'm READY FOR!!

    You "ugly" crying face is still beautiful! Boy, that picture sure tells a story!

  7. I totally started to cry when you said that you are proud of yourself. You did it and I am so glad that you are proud of yourself because you should be! You are amazing Nicole and definitely an inspiration to me. I really wish that I could train with you - I have so much I could learn from you about running and I have so many questions :) (I may be emailing you a bunch of questions, so be prepared, ha ha). You really are a fighter and I love how you give everything your all.

  8. I really love these photos, your husband did an amazing job capturing the day. There were some really great angles and lighting. My eyes teared up a bit with the wonderful signage your support crew had going for you.

    I think that you did amazing on Saturday, and your hubby is so right. Chasing down a time goal can sometimes be like shooting yourself in the foot because there are so many uncontrolable factors. Someone very wise once told me that you are not made happy but the things that you aquire but rather by the things you appreciate, and this changed my life. Being able to appreciate the amazing gifts I have and being able to get out there every day and run fills my soul with so much GRACE. Knowing that you truly appreciate this too makes my soul overfilled!

    Girl you are going to do amazing things with your running and I cannot wait to see the things you accomplish! Darn it, I hate how the internet can connect you to some truly amazing people but they live an eternity away.

    Rest up that leg, have some ice cream, take a nap, give your body thanks for your awesome work!

  9. Loved your post, it is funny how time brings perspective! Love finding another Portland runner. Are you running the Flat Foot half? I am too, and hoping for a PR. Hoping for sub 1:30. Maybe I will just try to keep you in my sights :)

  10. I love this post.
    there is nothing ugly about your ugly cry. pure emotions. I think it is a beautiful thing. I want to congratulate you. you did something that not a lot of people can and or will do in their life: running a marathon. I have never done that. I admire anyone who can do that.
    You husband is right. Perspective is important.
    Be proud.

  11. Nicole
    Thank you!What a perfect post for everyone to hear!!! It's so true sometimes we tend to be so hard on ourselves when we really have NO need to be!
    But girl let me tell you this you were truly born to run!
    Really you are and you totally have a gift for running you are a natural! you are an inspiration to us all thank you!!
    I hope you enjoy your trip to Hawaii enjoy the relaxing time!!!

  12. So true!!! You are so strong and never gave up!! Physically or mentally! Running is so many things...but it can't fill you or make you something...YOU ALREADY ARE ENOUGH!! Running FAST is just icing on the cake..right??

    Love my new 5'4 friend!! You are so inspiring and a true light in my life!! HUGS!!!

  13. thank you ladies! you are so awesome! I feel so blessed to have such amazing women around me...even if it is via the internet:):)
    Harm, I love you!!! can't wait to meet at another race. want to run the July 4th FULL in 2012 with me?;) xx

  14. One day after my son had a particularly lack-luster game performance I talked to his coach about my son's attitude. He was sulking, disappointed and frustrated that he didn't do better. I was inquiring about anything different I could say to cheer him up (b/c clearly NOTHING I was saying worked). His coach simply said to me -- "just be glad he cares -- that's why he's upset. he cares about his performance, he cares about not letting his team down, he cares about not letting his family down -- and I'll take a kid who cares over one who just shrugs off a defeat as just another loss any day."

    Simply put, Nicole -- you care and that's not a bad thing at all. Yes it is JUST a number. I number we train for, a number we're accountable to, a number that (whether it's right or not) defines us. And I think it's okay to care about that. The danger comes when we let the number take away our joy. So care about the number, and embrace the joy of running. Besides, there's always another race...and another one...and another one. ;)

  15. Ughhhh.....My computer crashed and my hubby is traveling and can't fix it and I've wanted to comment on this for 2 days!!! I'm finally succumbing to fighting out a comment on the tiny keys of my phone......

    First of all, seriously awesome post!!!!!! I GET this SO much! I'm so so glad you're processing this out properly! You ran a fantastic first marathon especially considering the conditions! I'm going to each a great friend run a marathon on Saturday. She is trained for a 2:50. All of a sudden, forecast predicts 30mph winds and torrential rain. This time goal may no longer be a reality but it doesn't mean she can't race the RACE! NOT always about time as effort!!! Not for a minute do I doubt your abilities!!!! You've proven those and CONGRATS on 7th overall female!!

    I love how you see your bad at trying to reiterate wonderful things people say. I'm terrible at that but you did a great job!

    Your parents, your hubby, what an awesome support system!!!!! Smart man you have there!!!!

    I also wear Brooks Launch! Love ALL the pics! Seriously hot legs girl!

    Hope recovery is going well! BIG things in your future:)

    I can't even see what I'm typing.

  16. You are such an inspiration. I am so happy for you and glad that you realized how amazing you are. Great pictures!!

  17. Wow! Look at all of these comments! I'm finally here! Yay! Love love love the pictures. You are so gorgeous! And you and your hubby look beautiful together. Nicole, I loved this post. Such wonderful reflection and in the end you said it yourself...you learned from this! This is what everything we do in life is all about. WE take something from every experience and it makes us stronger! You will take this and use it to come back that much stronger in your next race. Use it girl! xo. And I want to meet up for coffee too. Let's do it soon...Waylon gets home soon! :)

  18. I finally made it to your blog, and I must say I loved this post. You truly captured your marathon day and took me right there with you. You are amazing, and this is just the beginning my friend! Xo


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