Meet U.S. Olympic Marathon Hopeful


I had the pleasure of being introduced to Kaitlin Gregg Goodman who qualified for the Olympic trials at the 2014 California International Marathon, with a 2:39 finish. At first I thought, “is this real life?” What an honor to share with all of you and ask questions only a carb loving runner would wonder. It’s not everyday you get to befriend an athlete that has a shot at becoming an Olympic marathon runner.

I recently caught up with Kaitlin while she was training in her hometown of Davis, Calif., for the upcoming Olympic trials and learned more about her life. Her story is truly inspiring and you will learn from a pro runners perspective that all miles good and bad are worth “running joyfully” through.

When did your love of running begin?My love of running began at an early age – my dad was a runner and I ran my first 5k with him at age 8 (well, I ran most of the way – there were a few walk breaks!). I wasn’t the most coordinated child (hand-eye coordination wasn’t my forte) but I could run fast, so when I reached junior high school, joining the cross-country and track teams was an easy choice. I’ve been running competitively ever since, and loving it.

How long is your training plan for a race this important?
I began my buildup for the Olympic Trials marathon back in November. 3.5 months is a little longer than normal for me for a marathon, but I wanted to have adequate time to gradually increase my mileage before the Trials. It’s been a long but great training segment!

What’s your favorite carb?
In training, my go-to carbs are PowerBar Berry Blast PowerGels – I’ll take one to four of these for fuel on a long run, depending on how far I’m going. The caffeine in this flavor is an added bonus
Post-run, breakfast pastries are my favorite “cheat” carbs, especially scones and muffins. I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen and trying out healthy versions of recipes for both. After the Olympic Trials Marathon, I’ll be devouring a donut! 🙂

How do you balance being married, running, and coaching?
I’m blessed to have a very supportive husband who is very committed to my running goals. He will frequently bike with me on my long runs (he’ll carry my PowerGels and water for me), so we get to spend extra time together that way. It’s tough when my training or races take me away from our home in Providence, so I’m very thankful for FaceTime when we’re apart.
Coaching is easy to balance with my own running because it doesn’t feel like work to me – it’s really fun for me and I love watching my athletes hit new milestones and reach their goals.
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What inspires you when you have a bad run?
When I have a bad run, I think about a friend of mine who is currently battling cancer. She fights every day and approaches cancer with courage, through the good days and the bad ones. She has a positive attitude and such strength, and she continually inspires me to keep pressing on.

What goes through your mind during a qualifying marathon? Do you have a mantra? (other than “running joyfully” while on a run?)
The marathon can be a really emotional race, and I had so many thoughts going through my mind during my qualifying marathon at CIM. Before the race, I dedicated different miles of the marathon to important people in my life – a mile for each of my siblings, a mile for friends who’ve supported me, for family members, a mile for my husband. These dedications helped me focus during the race, thinking about specific special people rather than the pain. But the later miles were quite challenging, and my mind was filled with self-doubt, wondering if I could do it. At the end of marathon, when I made the last turn onto the home stretch toward the Capital, I was overwhelmed with joy – for reaching my goal and qualifying for the Olympic Trials, and also that the race was over – I was so relieved to be done!
When racing, I often repeat “calm + controlled” to myself in the early miles to make sure I don’t go out too fast. In the later miles, when the going gets tough, I tell myself “one mile at a time” – it helps me to break it down and focus on the mile I’m in at the moment, rather than getting caught up on how much farther I have to go.
 
For beginning runners what would you tell someone who just signed up for their first race?
First, congratulations! Second, find a friend or group to run with – running is social and so much more fun with a training partner. If you have questions as you’re getting started, be it about workouts, fueling, or race strategy, don’t be afraid to ask questions of fellow runners, or seek out the expertise of a coach.
Mostly, just have fun out there – racing should fun, not a chore or something you “have” to do. So embrace the training and enjoy it!
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Do you have a pre-race ritual you always do? A meal you always eat?
The night before a race, I like to have a meal of a salad and pasta with chicken. Before bed, I’ll have a small piece of dark chocolate and then will watch some Netflix to take my mind off the race and calm my nerves.
The morning of a race, my go-to meal is two slices of wheat toast with peanut butter and honey. And COFFEE – a must for me! I’ll eat this about 2 hours before I warm up. An hour before the race starts, right before I warm up, I’ll have half a packet of PowerBar Energy Blasts (my favorite is the Strawberry-Banana flavor since it has a little caffeine) and some water. Then it’s go-time!
 
If you weren’t a pro runner what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t running professionally, I’d be working in public health. I’m really passionate about helping people live healthy, active lives. I’ve previously worked in corporate wellness and next fall I’ll be going back to school to get my Masters in Public Health at Brown University.
To learn more about Kaitlin visit her page at: Running Joyfully
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I’ll quit when I’m finished!

This is by far the fastest post race blog post ever. Should I write the word post again?!  I just finished marathon #2 and am writing in bed with sour cream and onion Pringles and a bag of sour worms. I’ve already eaten a sandwhich, fries, and a soda. I feel like I can eat ridiculous amounts of food today and I’m really looking forward to an all out carb binge. FINALLY! Beware: lots of tears ahead, I’m a crier.

Let’s see where do I begin?!

Pre-Race vibes

I worked the information booth at the CIM expo the last two nights and enjoyed every minute of it. The excitement was contagious and was surrounded by all my running friends. I even made a new friend named Doug who gave me free foot massages under the table. (See pic below). Okay I know it may seem very strange but he told me he use to work with elite athletes until he got very sick and could no longer work. He was a very sweet older gentlemen and seriously changed my feet. I had zero foot pain during the race, but then again I guess that’s what a two hour massage will do to you. lol

Race morning

I had my alarm set for 4:30 but ended up waking up before my alarm. I was way to excited and immediately checked the weather. Dan dropped me off at Fleet Feet where I met our training group. It was so much fun riding the bus with friends. Everyone was so excited and the bus driver was even playing Christmas music. At one point we were listening to Rudolph the red nose reindeer and we all said “Yipee” at the same time. Haley and I sat together because DUH and chatted the entire way. Once we got dropped off to the start area we had an awesome tent with lots of delicious food and drinks. It was amazing! Oh and we even had our own porta potties. Talk about convienent!
 The start line

 I made my way to the 3:55 pace group. It was great to see Jamey (the pace group leader) and  a familiar face since we had ran with him on a 14 mile training run a few weeks ago. It was packed and raining but it was okay because we were about to start the race. David Guetta’s “Titanium” was playing and I knew it was a good sign that great things were in store for me.

The first 13 miles

I was feeling wonderful the first half of the race. I felt strong even though I was soaked and my headphones weren’t working. I was embracing my pace and felt unstoppable. I saw my grandparents and aunt and uncle around mile eight and from the videos I looked so happy and enthusiastic. They were so cute with their signs cheering me on. They are the BEST. Dan met me somewhere along the way and I gave him my headphones since they weren’t working.

 Mile 14-19 THE WALL

I hit the wall very early on or should I say the wall hit me. Things got really rough around here. I was alone with no music and no friends. I started giving up on myself. I walked at some parts and even contemplated quitting altogether. At some point while walking I read my text messages from friends and family and said to myself out loud, “YOU ARE NOT A QUITTER!” Even if I crawled to the finish line I was not going to give up. Not one thing in particular hurt but I was feeling very exhausted and my legs felt like they had bricks attached to them. At this point GUs and my electro drink were not tasting good and I couldn’t stomach it anymore.

Mile 20ish: Suavamente and smiling faces

Around mile 20ish I saw my parents, my brother, and niece and nephew and started to tear up. I yelled, “I am so happy to see you guys!” I gave them each a hug and refueled with real food that I gave to my mom yesterday just in case I needed something else to eat. Suavamente was playing (my favorite Spanish song) and I even felt like dancing well slow dancing, okay more like wiggling. At one point my three year old niece asked me for some of my water and it made me laugh. They were a breath of fresh air and exactly who I needed to see at that moment. They were the cutest littlest fans ever and make my heart so happy!

  
  

Mile 21: I’m pooped

Dan got lost and couldn’t find the race. (Insert sarcastic comment here) Thanks that’s exactly how I felt. I mean hello?! This wasn’t my first rodeo but he finally found me before mile 21 since we were talking on the phone. Yes, I was on the phone while running. A lady thought is was hilarious and she even took a picture of me. Dan ran with me and encouraged me not give up and keep going. I was telling him I felt like crap and that I was going to throw up. I took out all my rage on him. “I hate my GUs, I can’t drink my drink, I’m tired, I want to walk!” Luckily, he knows how I am and kept pushing me the entire way. He’s such a wonderful supportive husband. We saw my grandparents, and aunt and uncle again on the corner and they were cheering me on with their signs and encouraging words.

 Mile 22-Mile 23: the struggle is real

At this point I was running and walking off and on. Everything hurt and I felt naseous. I saw two of our Fleet Feet coaches and Cami said, “But you look pretty!” It made me giggle and kept me going. At the Sac State bridge (the worst part of CIM for me last year) I saw fellow ambassadors Amy and Leo. Their positivity and humor made me feel good even though I was dying inside. Along the way I saw my friend Mariana and her family and I started to tear up. She was cheering me on and telling me to “not stop and keep going”. I told her “It was really hard” and she knew that we both knew I was on the struggle bus. I saw the 4:10 pace group leader pass me and I tried to stay with them. I couldn’t and I was okay with that.

Dan met me again at a spot that I had struggled with last year. Right before L street. In Dan’s words, “You didn’t look good and you were really struggling.” It’s true. I was. I felt like I could either pass out or throw up or do both at the same if that’s humanly possibly. I was with the 4:25 pace group for a few minutes but was struggling to keep up.  I kept stopping to walk but Dan wouldn’t let me. He left me at one of the hardest points of the race because he had to leave and go to work. Last year he ran the last few miles with me. I was pissed he was leaving me but knew this wasn’t about anyone else but me. It was up to me to finish the race and push my body.

Mile 24-26: Is it over yet? Please tell me it is.

The music was getting louder and we were finally in downtown. I have driven these streets so many times but after running over 20 miles down them it was getting really difficult to come up with positive mantras. The crowds were getting larger and I could see the end getting closer. Around mile 25 I saw a man begin to walk and I tapped his shoulder and told him, “Do not walk, keep going and finish this race!” He looked at me and smiled in a way that said thank you without saying it and he kept on running. It’s funny because I was having such a hard time finishing the race and wanted to walk too but knew he had been working really hard the whole race.

We were finally on the side of the capitol building and passing clubs that I once use to party at and now am running races past. There was a women who had been running the race by me for miles and she started to walk. Again, I tapped her and told her, “Do not walk, you got this and you are almost done!” She looked at me and asked me “Are we really almost done?” I told her, “You see those lights over there and around that corner that’s all you have left” and off she went. They both passed me and I was proud of them. My friend Abby screamed from behind “TIFFANY!” I was so happy to see her. She encouraged me to keep going and not stop and that I was her motivation, I looked at her and said “today you are mine, go girl!”

Approaching the finish

Out of nowhere my legs started moving. I noticed if I hurried I would make it before 4:30 which earlier I didn’t even think was possible. I was pushing and not going to let anything stop me from finishing. I turned the corner and gave every last ounce of what I had left. I heard my family yelling my name and looked over to them and cheered with them. The woman who I encouraged to not stopped, gave me a hug and thanked me. It was truly one of the best moments I have ever experienced at a race. At that moment I knew that running had taught me something very special. I met my family and told them the stories about the people I helped encouraged along the way and they all had tears fill their eyes. They were so proud of me.

  
  
  
  

     
  
 I am truly blessed to have such a supportive family. We cried, we hugged, and we took lots of pictures. They knew it wasn’t the race goal time I had wanted but still made me feel very special and for that I will always have lots of wonderful memories.

What I learned

This marathon taught me more than I could have ever imagined. In the past when things get hard or I don’t like it anymore I just stop and go on to the next thing. But running has always been the one constant in my life. It’s made me realize I am much stronger both mentally and physically than I had thought. It has taught me that I can do anything and that my purpose in life is to help others and encourage them to do their best too. When the woman thanked me and gave me a hug suddenly everything made sense to me. Today wasn’t about pace or PRs today was about being the best version of myself.

Thank you all for all the lovely comments throughout my training and today. I write for you and hope to inspire you to run for carbs and be the best version of yourself! xoxo


#RunningForCarbs #ByeGirl

 

Hello? It’s me, running.

“Hello, it’s me, I was wondering
If after all these years you’d like to meet to go over everything
They say that time’s supposed to heal, yeah
But I ain’t done much healing”.


If you want to cry for no reason listen to Adele’s new cd “25”. It will make you compare anything in your life to the lyrics, even running. It’s guaranteed to make you cry or even sob. For instance the lyric, “They say time is suppose to heal”, and my response is “but I’ve taken two weeks off from running and I’m still in discomfort.” *Tears fall* Okay so  maybe not as dramatic but dealing with an injury weeks before a race can be very stressful.  

 I decided at this point I have two options: do nothing and have a pitty party, party of one, or do something about it and get better. After sulking and feeling really helpless about my calf/leg pain I finally made a doctor’s appointment especially since it wasn’t getting any better with rest.

I had x-rays taken on my right foot and calf. I have been so stressed out the past two weeks because I began to feel really anxious. Especially because I was out of town traveling for work for a week. When I don’t run I don’t feel like myself. I feel like a part of me is missing something. Not being able to run because of an injury requires  a lot of patience and time. Time to heal. When you are this close to a race you don’t have a lot of time. I found out that I do not have a stress fracture or calf tear. A huge sense of relief but I did have very tight muscles everywhere. Of course I blamed my twenty mile run but the reality of it was I haven’t been taking care of my body properly for months and it finally caught up to me. I needed to figure out my plan for the next two weeks.There are so many things to think about. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will not be able to qualify for Boston this marathon and that’s okay.

 

  • Here are some things I really have to consider: Is it about a PR?

Most runners are so focused on PRing every race. My last marathon time was 4:55 and I knew after the Clarksburg 20 miler I could easily beat my old time but with my current leg/calf/foot situation I may not get the PR I worked so hard for.  Not every race has to be better in terms of time than the last. I strongly believe that there is something to learn from every race. Whether it’s learning about your body or just enjoying the time you had with your friends.

  • How would I feel if I had to stop and walk?

Last year I walked at different parts of the race. This year my goal was to not stop and walk and run the entire time and under a 9 min pace. Is it still worth racing even if it’s at a much slower pace? Of course it is! Races don’t always have to be about going super fast. For me, it’s about being the best version of myself and in order to be the best version of myself I have to take  care of myself. My experience at CIM will be no less if I have to stop and walk through parts of it. it may even enhance it.

  • There are always more marathons and CIM will be there next year.

This is the most popular thing I have heard people tell me. I think that the people that love and care about us the most want the best for us. Since I’ve visibly been limping and complained about the pain I’ve been in for the past two weeks of course they are going to suggest that I don’t run CIM.  Although this is very true there is a certain passion within a runner that only runners understand. After finishing last year’s marathon even though it may have been slow I felt I could do the impossible. I was once told I could never run a marathon because I wouldn’t commit to training for it. Not only did I prove them wrong but I also proved to myself that I could do anything if I worked hard and never gave up. So yeah of course there are more marathons but finishing CIM a race I said I will never run again will feel like I can do anything and that’s a very special feeling. After a lot of consideration I plan to listen to my body the next few days and still run the race. I created a revised version of our training plan for the next two weeks. I reviewed it with my running coach and feel it will help me get back to the aerobic fitness that will allow me to complete the marathon. Until then I will enjoy the ride and try and make the best of the situation. Even though my Boston goals may not happen this race I will continue to work towards achieving them and one day say I am a Boston marathoner. I can happily say the best thing I have gained from training isn’t my speed but it’s the friends I have created along the way. I may have started a training group because I wanted to become a faster stronger runner but what I  learned was so much more. The friends I have made are not only some of the supportive people I have ever met but they genuinely care about each others well being. There energy is contagious and they don’t mind talking about all the crazy things us runners talk about. So if I don’t PR at CIM I can at least say I have made friends that will be my friends for life and I believe that beats a PR any day.


#ByeGirl #RunningForCarbs

 

Tut-Tut, looks like rain.

Check my out flossin with our Clarksburg race bibs. The Clarksburg 20 miler race is the longest run we will be running for our CIM training plan. Preparing your body physically, emotionally, and mentally all week takes a lot of preparation. My favorite part of getting ready for a long run is eating carbs, obvs right?! To be honest by Friday I was pretty over carbs and missed the amount of protein I was eating before. Unfortunately, I was having some major calf issues all week and was only able to get through three miles on Thursday. I was literally limping around for days. I felt like Pinocchio and  my legs were brittle like toothpicks.  I got a massage from the most amazing massage lady Jodie. She helped me get my body back to a physical level that I felt comfortable running 20 miles.

The day before the race I went to Sports Authority and picked up our  bibs. I was on bib pick-up duty and felt pretty excited once we had our race gear. The night before the race I made sure to carb up, drink lots of water, and at least 8 hours of sleep.   At 5:00 am my alarm went off and I was already awake. I was nervous and excited for the morning ahead. I prepared my two waffles with jelly and maple syrup, a banana and coffee. It was literally FREEZING! (California+change of weather=Uggs) The morning of the race and I made sure to layer myself for the drive to Clarksburg and went with my super comfy pj bottoms and purple Uggs. I know I look ridiculous but I was warm.
  Haley and I drove together and we met up with our friends Emily and Jennifer. I love getting to a race and seeing the excitment and energy that every runner brings. It becomes contagious and any doubt or nerves you may have are forgotten.
  The start of the race happened so quickly and I was still snapping pictures when I heard the start sound go off. To my surprise the race had begun and it was time to run 20 freakin miles! The start of the race was beautiful and a nice change of scenery from our normal long runs in Sacramento. The first few miles were cold and my calves were just warming up. For some strange reason my left foot was numb for a few miles. I couldn’t tell if my foot was hitting the ground or turning sideways, luckily it was hitting the floor and I was able to get through it. I felt warmed up around mile 7 and made sure to drink my electrolytes (Nuun) and take a GU pack about every 3 miles.

We decided as a group we would count the miles in fives and break it up into four parts this way were weren’t always thinking 20 miles, it was less intimidating this way. By mile 10 I was getting really warm and even contemplated taking off my top. We were feeling good and the miles just seem to zoom by. We even got a point where someone called us “the pack” and we loved that someone named us. I was feeling so good even with a little rain, I decided to snap some pictures of Emily and Haley. Oh and of course a running selfie, because why not?!
  Around mile 15 I felt amazing! I picked up my pace and was at a comfortable 8:40 pace. It started to rain and it was coming down pretty hard. At that point we were passing the other runners from the half marathon and seeing our friends who were at a faster pace for the 20 miler. I was overwhelmed with joy and wasn’t thinking about the rain but the excitement of living in the moment and waiving to my friends and cheering eachother on. At one point a woman yelled, “Running for carbs! How is your calves?”. I was so excited that someone called me running for carbs and could not wipe the smile off my face. I even told the man running next to me “almost there” which he responded “no we aren’t” and I just chuckled. I felt unstoppable and pushed through until mile a8 happened.

Around mile 18 I started to feel nauseous. I knew my body was telling me something. The rain started to pout down and I felt like my feet were so heavy. Running through puddles while trying not to throw up was a terrible feeling. Luckily, Emily and I were together and I asked her for some electrolytes.  She handed me a tablet and I immediately threw it in my water bottle. We both realized at that moment that I was suppose to take it as pill because it was definitely not a tablet. I threw out the contents of my water bottle and desperately pushed through the miles until I finally got to an aid station. Unfortunately, they only had Gatorade which for me is way to heavy during a run. I chugged down a cup of Gatorade and grabbed a second.  I was looking for anything to help me get through the last few miles. I kept thinking in my head you only have less than a 5k left you can do this girl.

Those last two miles I ran with my heart and I even said that out loud.  I wasn’t even sure if my legs were moving they felt so heavy but I could hear the crowd as we were approaching the finish. I made it to finish line where I tried to leap over a huge water puddle but ended up right in the middle of it. It didn’t stop me I kept going and saw Emily shouting at me. My goal was to finish under three hours. I finished at 3:02 but placed 11th in my age group. I was really happy because this was  huge PR (personal record) for me. Last year I ran the race and finished at 3:47. I beat my last time by 45 minutes and could not be more proud especially with the weather. Here is a photo from  the race photographer where I was surprisingly looking happy and finishing strong!
  
After checking our times I  talked to Dan over the phone and was shaking with excitement, oh I was also soaked. Luckily, Emily’s husband brought an extra towel that literally saved me. My calves surprisingly felt okay and I was happy to change into warm clothes.

We headed to the cafeteria where they provided us with pasta, salad, bread, and fruit. I’m usually not able to eat a huge meal after a long run but I have been working on eating food within the 30 minute time frame to help replenish nutrients. I slowly ate the past and bread and chatted with friends about the race and the weather. It felt good accomplishing that mileage in the rain. CIM weather is so unpredictable it was great to run in potential weather and give me a better idea about what to change for the big race. About three more weeks until my second marathon and I cannot wait!!
  
  

#RunningForCarbs #ByeGirl

When you mentally feel burned out.

 That moment you’re at work, snacking on a pack of raisins (because apparently raisins are good for runners), and you throw a few in your mouth only to realize you’re chewing on a ball of dirt that was disguised as a raisin. THAT moment happened to me. It was disgusting and my front teeth were shaded with dirt patches, that made me appear to be toothless. But really, all I could do was laugh about it. It was basically the cherry on top of everything I had been dealing with all week. You know you are having a rough week when eating a piece of dirt puts things into perspective.

It all started with a few bad runs. Now about three months into training for The California International Marathon we are running about 35-40 miles per week. It’s becoming exhausting because running isn’t just running. There’s much more that comes with running that takes up a lot of time. From having clean running clothes, stocking up on GU supplements, electrolytes, eating a well balanced diet to refuel before and after runs, ice baths, rolling-out, and sleep. Not only do you have to consider all of these things throughout the week you are also trying to balance the other aspects of your life-yes, we do have lives! For me, that consists of working, going to school, cooking, cleaning, being married, and hanging out with my family. It’s been a tough balancing act. After runs and rolling out all I want to do is nap. Here are a few tips to help you get through the “burn-out” phase of training:

1.  Evaluate what’s really bothering you.

I realized that not only was I feeling overwhelmed by training but a lot of other things were starting to build up. Being able to stop and evaluate what’s causing the stress is the best way to tackle life and decide on how you can overcome those obstacles.   2. Take a few days off.

For me, going for a run was becoming more of a chore than something I enjoyed. Taking a few days off and spending time with family, binge watching Netflix, shopping, and cooking really helped me re-focus. Also, instead of running you can do other cross training activities that will keep you active. I would try hiking, swimming, and biking to help clear your mind.  3. Never stop having fun.

I realized I was so focused on meeting my marathon goal pace (8:12 min) that I was getting upset on training runs when my pace wasn’t as fast as I wanted. This made running stressful and not fun. Stopping and looking at old race paces helped me realize I have come really far and I should be happy with the progress I have made throughout training.

4. Treat yourself.

Agree or disagree with me on this one but buying yourself something new for running always makes me feel better. Whether it’s a new pair of running shoes, or something as simple as trying a new flavor of GU helps break up the routine you’ve created. 5. Turn to your friends.

Your running friends are the best resource. They are your cheerleaders and truly understand where you are coming from. Turning to them during this time will help keep you motivated and be a listening ear. I had posted a few things on social media that let everyone know I was feeling burned-out. I immediately got messages and comments from friends suggesting things they did while in a similar situation.

One of the best lessons I have learned during this burn-out phase is that my running friends aren’t JUST my running friends but are friends I will have for life. You are not alone and life can be really stressful. Running is the best outlet to relieve stress and take time to count your blessings, if you are feeling burned-out, try these steps and just know everything will get better.
  
  
  
#ByeGirl #RunningForCarbs

You CAN’T do it.

I’ve decided to write a blog about the man at packet pick-up that really upset me. Here is some background information about our conversation.

Last weekend we picked up my race packet for The Buffalo Stampede ten mile race. Dan waited in the car while I quickly ran in. Or so I thought I would have. Packet pick-up is always exciting and usually takes a few minutes. I picked up my bib and headed to the shirt table where I was greeted by an older gentleman who asked me, “Is this your first time running the Buffalo Stampede? What is your time goal for the race?” I explained to him it was my first time running this race and I was using it as a training run with some people from the CIM (California International Marathon) training group.

I went on to tell him our training plan had us scheduled to run 12 miles that day so the goal was to complete the race and continue on for another two miles as a cool down. I told him that I joined this program with the hopes of qualifying for Boston at this years CIM. As I tried to make small talk and pick-up my items I was asked a few more questions. We then started discussing marathon training. He asked me if it was my first marathon and when I explained it wasn’t he asked me what time I had finished last year. As a runner I don’t like to share race times with people whether it’s my best race or my worst race, unless of course we have the type of relationship where you understand my running goals. To me, it’s just part of an unwritten, unstated runner code. When I said my last marathon time “was nothing to talk about” he insisted I tell him my time. Finally I did which was 4:55. I knew what his immediate response would be and was in disbelief by his feedback. He told me it was a really big time gap to try and qualify this year and that it more then likely was not going to happen. When I tried to explain that I am mentally much stronger and determined to work hard to qualify this year, he continued to name off the amount of Boston Marathons he’s ran and what his amazing times were, as well as the hundreds of marathons he’s completed in his lifetime. I didn’t ask but I politely smiled and responded with “That’s really admirable!”  Even the man handing out race bibs yelled over, “She’ll be fine.” Finally, someone lined up behind me and I had an excuse to politely leave the conversation. When I got to the car I told Dan about my conversation with this man and that it really bothered me.  Dan’s response was a typical husband response and was, “Who cares? Don’t worry about him!” I tried to brush it off and enjoy the rest of my day.

Later that night instead of being really excited about the race the next morning I felt myself making excuses as to why I would not run it. I didn’t leave out my running clothes the night before, and I didn’t set my coffee timer as I normally do the night before a race. All night I thought of simply not racing and taking the day off. I came up with a few valid excuses: my calves were tight, I was tired, I had way too much stuff to do Sunday.  In the morning, even though I had not done any of my pre-race rituals, I decided to join my friends and make the best of it.

Race morning I wasn’t the normal, cheerful self I am before a race. What that man said to me really bothered me and it started to mentally influence me. Once the race started I tried just focus on the 12 miles I needed to complete that morning. The first two miles I tried to keep up with my friends at a 7:50-8:00 min/mile pace. I decided by mile two that it was too fast for me and my calves were feeling really tight. I slowed down to a comfortable pace and ran two miles on my own. Mentally, I was giving up at mile four. I wanted to stop. I contemplated stopping and “ubering” my way back to my car. I even started looking for a police officer who could possibly drive me back. I text Dan “in pain might stop.”

 Since I was running and texting it actually was spelt “I bad pain night stop.”  To which Dan replied with a question mark.  At that moment I heard my friend Emily yell out and ask if I was okay. I also saw my friend Andrea and decided to run with her. She was just the motivation and energy I needed to stay focused and finish the race. We ran together at a comfortable pace until about mile eight. Without her I would have never finished. By mile eight I felt great and decided to push myself to run the last two miles of the race at a much faster pace. I literally said to myself out loud, “You’ve got this! You can do it!” I pushed through and finished strong. I even completed the two extra miles that I told myself I wasn’t going to do at mile four.


  
To my surprise I ended up finishing the race 2nd in my age group. I was shocked. My friend called me on the drive home to tell me to turn around. I had seen the results posted on the wall on my way to my car but didn’t bother to look at them because I was sure I wasn’t on there. To my surprise I actually placed. I doubted myself the entire time and was so bothered by that man’s negative comments. During the first half of the race I was in my head telling myself: that I would never qualify for Boston and everyone around me was thinking the same thing. That it was just too much time to shave off my first marathon and that ultimately, he was right, I was never going to be strong enough or fast enough to run 26.2 miles at an 8:12 pace. It was impossible.

This isn’t the first time someone has discouraged me from meeting my goals and it won’t be the last time but it was the first time I let it get the best of  me.  Since starting the CIM training group I have grown to be a stronger and more consistent runner. It is giving me the confidence and support I need to achieve my goal.

To the man at the shirt table that told me I could not reach my goal: thank you. I’m taking your negative comments and using it to my advantage. What I didn’t explain to you because I didn’t feel it was necessary to explain to a complete stranger was that last year my goal was to simply complete my first marathon-whether I walked or CRAWLED across the finish line. THAT was my goal. To finish. Which I did and I did with pride. Last year I didn’t train anywhere near as much as the level of training I am doing this year but after finishing my first marathon I knew that nothing was impossible. It saddens me that I let you get the best of me. Luckily, the runners I have met and choose to surround myself by are some of the most motivating and positive people you can have in life.  I love being a part of the running community because we support each other through the good and the bad. Although you may not have meant for your words to hurt my feelings, they did, but not for long. I hope you will take this as a lesson learned to be mindful of the words you choose and learn to encourage others. I am proud of you for accomplishing so many achievements in your lifetime and I hope to one day be the same way. Until then I hope to help others stay positive and achieve their goals. I understand the journey to meeting my goal may seem impossible to you and even if I don’t qualify for  Boston this year as long as I work my hardest I’ll walk away with a sense of pride knowing that I did my best. The beautiful thing about running a marathon is that it makes the impossible possible and I will not let  you or anyone take that away from me. Thank you for the motivation to put my all into achieving the impossible.

Sincerely,

Tiffany James, Running (slowly but surely) for Carbs

#ByeFelicia

Motivational Monday: Don’t let doubt and fear take over your goals.

At the beginning of the year I made it a personal goal to work towards qualifying for the Boston Marathon. The first few months I was all about it. Nothing could get in the way of me qualifying for Boston. Now, well into the year, I have been starting to doubt myself. Not just doubt but become overwhelmed with the fear of not qualifying.  This year I will have to run CIM under 3hrs 35 mins 00 sec. Last year I ran my FIRST marathon at 4:57:40. That means I would have to shave off 1hr 22mins 40sec. How the heck am I supposed to do that?! Well, I’m going to try. After turning 27 and almost being married for four years, the number one question I get asked about life is: “when are you going to start having kids?” My response is always, “After I run Boston.” Now everyone knows that I will start (or start trying anyway) making mini-me’s after 2017.

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For most runners, Boston is the pinnacle of personal records. Sometimes when I think about the feeling of crossing the finish line and becoming a Boston qualifier I actually tear up. Most of my long runs consist of me visualizing myself crossing the Boston finish line and most of the time running a 7:30 mile. So why am I terrified?

It’s human nature to doubt ourselves and not push ourselves to our fullest potential. Over the summer I have been continuously running but with running injuries, heat, and just everyday life, I have become really worried about meeting my goal. I have even given myself an out: that if I don’t qualify for Boston at the California International Marathon this December, perhaps I can try to qualify at the Pony Express Marathon in May 2016. By mid-year, I found myself slowly letting the fear of not achieving my goal overtake who I am as a runner.

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Luckily, I didn’t let that last for long. I guess in many ways this post is a way for me to stay accountable and let all of you (the amazing readers) push me to work harder than I ever have. After a discussion with an inspiring running friend, it was just the motivation I needed to get back on track and not let fear and doubt ruin what I have been working so hard towards. I couldn’t sit here and write to you about running and being the best runner you can be while I’m being a chicken and doing the complete opposite.

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I have found that surrounding myself with friends who have similar running goals and family who support keeps me focused. Also, mentally training myself is just as important as physical training. Recently, I’ve had a few different people try to talk me out of qualifying for Boston because it was such a big leap. Taking 1:20 minutes off my marathon time is a huge deal. But if I let the “what ifs” and the slight possibility of me not meeting goal consume me I will never achieve a level of success I deserve.

One tool I feel that  has helped me immensely is visualization. Taking a few seconds during runs, imagining myself crossing the finish line, or exceeding my fitness goal will help me mentally stay focused and thrive on my positive outlook.  I’m confident all of these steps can help you too. Don’t let anyone including yourself stop you from achieving the best version of yourself.

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