Double races: what better way to bid farewell to the old and ring in the New Year? That’s exactly what we did New Year’s Eve of this year with Cadence Double Dash (and thank my friend for the awesome idea!) The last 5K of 2015 was held at 10:30 pm, followed by a break, […]
I’m back in the half marathon business!
I just ran the Saints and Sinners Half Marathon on Saturday, September 26, 2015.
This was the first half I have attempted in almost a year and my main goal was just to finish the race without injury, I’m thrilled that I was able to do that! I had no time goal in mind and really didn’t know what to expect. My strategy was to go technology free, with no watch or music and totally just listen to my body and run by feel. To start out, I planned to go out super conservatively and hold back from wanting to go out too fast. This is a common race mistake (something I’ve done on several occasions) and I knew if that happened I would fade before the finish. Further into the race, if I felt good, I planned to pick up the pace at the end and finish strong.
So on to the race! The Saints and Sinners Half Marathon was held in Boulder City, NV and started at Bootleg Canyon Trailhead on a warm 80 degree morning. The race was organized by members of the Mormon church and was staffed with many volunteers, including missionaries. The race had small local feel and a fun theme. Organizers had set up “saints” and “sinners” aid stations, with saintly items such as water and fruit, and sinner type items such as cookies and candy. They invited participants could then decide if they were more “saint” or “sinner” as they made their way through each aid station. I was a saint, in that regard. The first 6.5 miles of the course traveled mostly downhill along The River Mountains Loop Trail, which is a paved bike and pedestrian path. I took it easy in the beginning, as planned, and felt good. I tried to focus on taking in the scenery, enjoying myself and people watching. To go with the saints and sinners theme, several runners had dressed in various costumes of angels, devils, or both at the same time. My favorite pair, however, was a runner I’ll call DJ Dad who was pushing a child in a stroller. The two of them were having a great time, rocking out to tunes blasting from the stroller and rolling along. As for me, I was doing fine. A lot of the other runners passed me, but not all of them. I just let them go thinking I may see them later if they slow down. It was all going according to the plan. The only real uphill section of the course was at about mile 4. I decided to do some walking here for a few minutes to catch my breath and conserve energy for later. The hot, dry, desert heat was my companion. As we crested the hill, a fellow runner pointed out 2 bighorn sheep running down the mountain and passing us in the opposite direction. This was really neat because even as a resident of this area, I had never seen the sheep live “in person.” As the miles slowly ticked away, the temperature was steadily rising, and I really started to feel the effects of the heat. The aid station at mile 5, was a welcome oasis in the desert, equipped with ICE water, which I noticed some of the other runners taking advantage of by drinking and pouring it over their heads. I hoped the race organizers had planned for enough water for those still behind us. I’ve been to other races where they have run out. It was HOT! Luckily, the sun went behind the clouds between mile 5 and 6.5 for a little while, and that seemed to help just a little.
Miles 6.5 to mile 11 covered the Historic Railroad Tunnels trail with amazing views of Lake Mead and the surrounding desert area. The trail consisted of dirt and loose gravel and traveled through 5 railroad tunnels that were once used to carry supplies during the building of the Hoover Dam. There was a group of spectators at the beginning of the tunnels trail at mile 6.5, which gave us a nice boost to morale. However, I was starting to feel hot and tired. So I took a walk break. Or three. The tunnels were cool to run through so I tried to focus on that, but I was feeling it.
Once through the tunnels and back, Mile 11 to 13.1 continued on the paved bike trail down to the finish line at
Boulder Beach, Lake Mead National Recreation Area. This was a rough two miles. By this point, the heat had soared over 90 degrees and I just wanted to be done. My energy tanked and I was reduced to walking a lot more. I noticed that I was passing the same people over and over again. I would pass them, they would pass me, I would pass them and on and on…the finish line seemed so far away. The heat affected me more than I expected, but then, everyone
else seemed to be having the same struggles. I swear it was like march of the dead toward that finish line.
Finally, we did made it. The race organizers had set up “Heaven” and “Heck” finish lines for runners to choose their final destination. I chuckled at the Mormon version of “Hell,” but my path was clear. “Heck” it is. My official finish time was 2:37:37.
Welcome to the Running Down a BQ Interview Series! We’re kicking off the interviews with a very special guest: accomplished triathlete, amazing coach, Rockin’ Runner, and great friend, Nancy Dickinson! Nancy was instrumental in training me to race triathlon, teaching me how to swim, and helping me overcome a fear of open water! Thanks to her guidance and support, I have finished three triathlons! Nancy has mastered the art of dedication, grit and has a true love of the sport. She doesn’t settle for just doing it. She dominates it!
The Running Down a BQ Interview:
What is your name (or nickname)?
Can you briefly describe your running history?
I only ran for conditioning in HS for other sports. I hated it. Long story short, in 2000, I broke my back. I worked in the water to rehab. I became indignant upon hearing I should never ever run. So I started running. A lot. Just to see….
Age when you ran the BQ (or first one, if more than one)?
Only one I ran was 2012. Year before the bombing with record heat. I was 32.
In which marathon did the magic happen? Date of race?
Phoenix Rock n Roll 2011
What was your finish time compared to the BQ Standard?
I came in over 20 min before my qualifying needs. Not fair, I know.
Can you tell us the story of your BQ race? How did you feel during the race and at crossing the finish line?
I was one of the rare few not chasing Boston. I was chasing understanding and embodying that which is the marathon. I wanted to know how it felt, especially how it hurt, and how to prepare others for it. I had a glorious surprise learning I so easily qualified for it. Then I walked backward downstairs for two weeks.
How many marathons have you run? How many attempts at the marathon did it take for you to BQ?
My qualifier was my first marathon. Don’t tell anyone. #againnotfair
What did your training look like leading up to your BQ race? Did you follow a training plan or running philosophy?
Yes, I followed my coach, Cyndee Platko diligently (trainwithcynee.com). She’s the master at the long course stuff having well over 20 years experience.
How about your diet?
It was perfect. In my fantasies.
Have you run Boston yet? How many times? Which year(s)?
2012. One time’s all I need. List CHECKED baby!!!
If so, what was it like to run the Boston Marathon?
It was unlike any other race I’ve ever been so blessed to participate. The spectators will never leave my heart. Boston is a sporting community. Sport is their blood, no matter WHAT kind. So from the time I was racing- perfect strangers cheering me on for 3 plus hours like I was breaking a world record, to being in pubs watching locals go NUTS over their team…..I was overwhelmed with the passion for performance and American professional sport. SO, so blessed to have been exposed to it, let alone one of the players.
Who or what inspires you to run? Any favorite quotes?
My own quote. F*** Motivation. It’s a testy bitch and rarely shows up. Just get out there and move your legs.
Do you have a running playlist? If so, what’s on it?
Yes. My breath.
What advice can you offer to hopeful first time Boston Qualifiers?
Embrace sooooo much more than the race and performance itself. You’re going up against the best in the world. So you might as well enjoy the history and culture, haha.
What three words would you use to describe what it takes to qualify for the Boston Marathon?
Type. A. Personality.
Do you have a website or blog you would like for me to link to?
Yes!!!!!! Blog page on www.corehore.com
Anything I missed?
Nada, you’re gooooood.
Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your story. You rocked your BQ and I am inspired to take on this challenge!
Join our interview series by leaving a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first 32 years of my life was spent as a couch potato. I smoked off and on for 15 years, didn’t give a second thought to my health, and was overweight (my max was about 175 lbs.). I spent years yo-yo dieting and always ended up right back where I started from. In 2006, I finally had an epiphany and made a total lifestyle change, quit smoking for good and started training for 5K and 10K races, built up to a Half Marathon in 2007 and trained for my first Marathon.
I was digging through my old archives and found the race report from my first Marathon: The Las Vegas Marathon, 2007 and thought it would be fun to share it here. This was written right after the race and I am posting here complete and unedited. Enjoy!
As long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to run a marathon. It was one of those “things to do once before I die” goals. I had decided to finally do it and before I knew it, training season was over and I found myself on a chilly Sunday morning in December, standing at the start line of the Las Vegas Marathon amidst a sea of 17,000 other runners and walkers waiting to take off down the Las Vegas Strip.
My two friends were with me: Susan and Julie. Both of them I had met on the online Rookie Running team. I’d never met either one of them in person before but we hit it off immediately and soon it was as if I had known them forever. I couldn’t find my local training group, but that was okay. I wanted to start the race with my two friends, and at the back of the pack to avoid being overtaken by thousands of very excited and faster runners behind me. We weren’t in a hurry. This was our first marathon and our main goal was to finish. Besides, Julie had been sick and I was worried we would run out of steam if we took off too fast.
Somewhere up ahead I saw fireworks going off and knew the race had started. We hadn’t moved yet, and wouldn’t for another 15 minutes. I looked around at nervous and excited faces all around me. The feeling started to sink in. Wow! I’m about to run a marathon! Elvis was singing ‘Viva Las Vegas’ over the loudspeakers and I was singing my own words to it and swaying to the music. Then I spotted Elvis in the crowd. And there he was again! And I spotted another one…this time a female Elvis. I smiled at her. I also noticed several other colorful characters. Several couples were dressed in wedding/running attire including a man in white with a wedding veil and tutu, and another man with a tuxedo jacket with shorts and running shoes! His soon-to-be wife was grinning beside him. The masses started shuffling toward their fate. Finally we got to the start line and WE WERE OFF!
Running the strip was cool, even for a local gal like me. It’s not very often, as Julie pointed out, that you get the “whole strip to yourself”. I could tell she was excited. I played tour guide as we ran and was surprised at how much had changed since the last time I had been three. Several historic hotels had been leveled and were being cleared away to make room for the new generation of high rise condos. Julie and I had to keep reminding ourselves to slow down and conserve energy. It was hard to do. We kept a brisk pace at about 11:30 min/mile. It felt comfortable and yet energizing at the same time.
Susan eventually found her own pace and disappeared into the crowd ahead. She was running the ½ marathon. I wasn’t worried about her. We had driven the course the night before and she knew where she was going. I said a silent goodbye to her and wished her luck.
About mile 3, we discovered the Blue Man Group’s “secret location.” I guess it’s hard to stay hidden when you’re painted blue and banging away madly on drums. My pace naturally matched up with the drumming and the cheering of spectators. It was surreal.
We passed the 4 mile mark. There was a group of couples gathering at the “Run-through wedding chapel” waiting for the ceremony to begin. There was a separate line reserved for the Elvi. The volunteers at the water stop were handing out wedding cake to the runners. Only in Vegas!
A majority of the runners turned off where the ½ marathon and marathon split. A part of me wanted to go with them, but a bigger part kept me on the path for the full marathon. At this point I started questioning my level of sanity. Someone had told me once that the ½ marathoners were only ½ crazy. I realized it was too late to turn back and felt a surge of excitement and fear.
The Strip gradually gave way to downtown, and the ambiance changed dramatically. The homeless became spectators for the day as we invaded their territory. They seemed entertained and some of them were cheering and waving at the runners. Fremont Street was quiet except for a small cheering section. It seemed empty without the lighted canopy, the music and crowd of drunken tourists that usually gather at night. I was expecting more, somehow.
Julie and I started adding more walk breaks as the adrenaline started to wear off and the reality began to set in. The topic of conversation became more focused on calculating speed and distance and ETA to the finish line. We were approaching mile 10 and starting to tire.
At mile 10, Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” was being played over a loudspeaker. To the lyrics “Whoa…you’re halfway there,” Julie replied, “no we’re not! This is only mile 10!” They shouldn’t tease us like that! A male runner was apparently unable or unwilling to wait for the next Porta-potty and was relieving himself in his Gatorade cup…right in the middle of the street! I thought I saw Elvis up ahead and wondered if that meant I was dead or just running the Las Vegas Marathon. It was hard not to laugh.
The miles started to blend together and we trudged past several more without incident; running some, walking more and just focused on our goal to keep pushing along. My boss showed up at the halfway mark and that broke up part of the monotony. So did chatting with some of the wedding couples.
Finally, the much anticipated mile 20 was looming into view. The race organizers had set up an archway that looked like a brick wall for the runners to run through—cute. I pictured myself literally running into the wall and leaving a Korie-shaped hole like in the cartoons. Instead, I just ran up and punched it with my fist. “There,” I said. “I hit the wall.” Julie replied, “yeah. You show that wall who’s boss!” A very excited coworker of mine was also there with signs. She said we inspired her to do it next year. That helped boost our spirits a little. I gave her a hug and thanked her for coming.
The last 6.2 miles…well…sucked! They re-opened the streets to traffic and banished us to the sidewalk. We had to stop and wait at traffic lights and no longer had the right of way. People were packing up the water stations and leaving. The entertainment was gone. We had been running and walking for 5 hours and were quite sick and tired of it. Julie was having a bit of trouble breathing and each step was getting more painful for both of us. I could not wait to get it over with already! I could see where the finish line should be up ahead and it seemed elusive and unattainable. Quitting wasn’t an option, so we just kept walking and seemed to get slower and slower. Finally, at about a mile and a half to go, Julie spotted her husband. He had gotten worried and walked back to meet us. He assured us that the finish line was just past the next building and around the corner. It still seemed so far away!
When we finally got there, the finish line was an awesome sight! Our families were there along with Susan and had been waiting for a while. Most of the other people had gone home and the party was over. Julie and I didn’t care. We were just happy to do it and to do it together! We earned our “bling” and will remember this experience always with a smile.
My first marathon is now just a memory locked in cyberspace. It was unique to me, although shared with 17,000 strangers and a few good friends. It was an awesome and humbling experience that I really can’t compare to any other I’ve had. As for running the marathon once before I die…I’m as alive as ever and I can’t wait to do it again! Our official finishing time of 6:38:38 was slower than expected but I’m okay with it. It’s much less important than the fact that WE DID IT!
The Dream: To run a Boston Qualifier (BQ) and run the Boston Marathon.
Why Boston? Many runners inherently understand the simple answer to this question. Because it’s Boston! The Boston Marathon is arguably one of the most sought after races in the world. It’s the oldest continuously run marathon on the planet, and many view it as the most prestigious. It’s also been one of the most elusive races, partially due to the strict qualifying standard.
Qualifying for Boston is an ambitious goal! Yet, somehow, there is a spark of hope for the average, middle of the pack runner like me, that with the proper dedication to training, and perhaps a little luck, I can actually do this! That’s all I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And when it does happen, I will know that I’ve made it as a runner!
I’m just an average 41 year old mom, former overweight smoker with half a dozen marathons and 20 odd half marathons under my belt. I have no natural running talents or abilities. Over the past 8 years since I have discovered and grown my love for running I have had many ups and downs but made significant progress from where I started to where I am now. So why me? Because why not?
Why this Blog? To share the love, Baby. I know there are many others out there who share the same dream of chasing the Boston Marathon Unicorn. For some of us, the BQ has not yet manifested, for others it has. No matter where we are on this running trail, we all have an experience to share. This is a place of sharing, support, and inspiration. Speaking of inspiration, the title of this website is inspired by the song, Runnin’ Down a Dream, by Tom Petty. The song has always been at the top of my playlist and never lets me down when I need it.
I’d love to hear your story. Feel free to comment and share.