Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Nooseneck 18K Recap

I am not really sure what the history of the Nooseneck 18K is.  All I know is it's about seven years old and organized by members of my running group, The Narragansett Running Association. NRA for short.  It also is full of crazy hills that go on for 11.18 miles.

When you hear stories from this race, it does not sound fun.  In fact, I never thought twice about it.  That is, until this year.

BRF#1 and BRF#2 were planning on doing it. They convinced me that it would be fun.  Of course when we are together, we always have fun so what the heck. I'll do it!

The race is held the day after Christmas at 1pm.  You pay $10, which is a donation that becomes prize money and you can participate in a gift exchange if you want also.

There were 100 people running and we knew we would be very close to coming in last.  We asked if we could start about ten minutes early and got the OK.  It just gave us a little piece of mind that we would not be out there at midnight still running and more time at the pub and party after the race.

We walked to the start, hit our Garmin's at the exact same time, and were on our way down a very big hill. The girls informed me that we had to come back up this hill to finish.  Awesome...

The weather was really great for this time of year and I was in a skirt with a short sleeve shirt and light jacket. I knew pretty early on, I would not be needing the jacket for too long.

About a mile in, we saw a man and women with shot guns heading into the woods to go hunting.  They asked if there were more runners coming and we gave the the scoop. That didn't scare me at all... Should have worn neon.

About fifteen minutes after we started running, the lead man passed us. It was Matt Pelletier who would continue to lead and finish in 59:09.

BRF#2 joked with everyone who passed us saying we were in an elite wave.  It was cool to see the leaders for that split second.
Before the start.

We knew mile five was the toughest part of the race. It was up hill a little more than half a mile, on dirt, rocks, roots, basically trail. Not my favorite.

Before we got to that hill, one of us said, "Remember, this is fun!", so I sang, "The hills are alive with the sound of music!"  Of course, that is the only part I know but said we would have to sing it at the top.
Mastering the art of Selfie While Running.

BRF#2 and I ran and walked a bit. BRF#1 ran up the whole way but waited for us at the top.  We sang in our best voices and twirled our running skirts just like Julie Andrews did in the movie.  I wish I had it on video.
Going up...

And up...

Whew, half way!

Once up that hill, it flattened out a bit and it was the easiest part of the race.  People were still coming up behind us and we chatted with each one until they moved on.  Most of the people we knew and that is always nice.

Coming out of the loop and back to the road we started on, I braced myself for the uphill finish.  I have to say, I was tired and sorta felt good in a I know I can finish but when will this misery be over kind of way.  I did feel a little bad because BRF#1 could have been finished already, but we decided to run it together, for fun and that is exactly what we did.

We finished together in 2:06:40. That is an 11:19 pace and we weren't last. I am pretty happy with my splits. You can see where the hills were and the one water stop.

Once back to the car, we freshened up a bit and headed into the pub for some food and a couple drinks.  My Yankee Swap gift is something I will never use and may bring it back next year.

This was one of the toughest races I have ever run but honestly, the girls and I had fun and I am pretty sure I would run anywhere with them.  The next couple days, my legs hurt like hell. Felt like I ran another marathon. Took a few days off while we visited my family in New Jersey.

It was a great way to end the year, although I will get one more run in.  I hope you all have a safe and Happy New Year! I look forward to hearing what you have planned for 2016. I am still working on my goals but will share them once I get it all figured out.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Legs, Mind, Heart

November 22, 2015.  Marathon number two. Something I said I would never do again, after I finished the first one.  We should all be careful what we say.

Once I decided to run a second one, I knew, without question, it would be Philadelphia again.  It's a great race. Nice expo, wonderful course and fantastic spectators and support.

This time, I had a goal. A big one.  While out on a couple of runs with BRF#1, we talked about hiring a coach and there was only one clear choice. We called Michelle of For the Love of Running.  She is an amazing athlete, mom who gets it, and a friend.

The training plan scared me.  Is it supposed too? Can't really answer that, but just went with what she thought was best for me. She knew me and took the time to hear me out about what I wanted to get out of this marathon.  My goal was a sub five hour marathon. The time to beat was 5:23:10.  You can do the math. That is a huge PR.

Training for the most part went well.  I struggled the most with the tempos runs. Speed work was something I have never done before. I enjoyed the track workouts better than I thought I would and the longs run, well they were really long and there was a lot of them.  Four eighteen milers and two twenty, not counting the seventeens, sixteens, well you get it.

I had moments where I thought my goal was going to be impossible. When October came around, things really started to fall into place. I was hitting my goal pace for most of my runs and I started to get more excited that I would not only reach my goal, but kill it.

My last eighteen miler, I finished in 3:15. I couldn't let that go. I wanted to repeat that on race day. I had a pace band that would get me to a 4:49 finish.

The week leading up to the race, I couldn't sleep. At all. I was a walking zombie just getting through the day.  I just wanted to get there and start running.  I couldn't wait anymore.

I ran my two mile shake out run the morning before we left.  My legs were heavy.  It wasn't a horrible run, but it wasn't a great one either. TMI coming up for all of you Running While Daddies.  My period was late.  And the week leading up to it, my legs always feel that way. I usually have my worst runs that week.  I knew this couldn't be good.

Getting to Philadelphia was slow, but we arrived at the same time as BRF#1 and Sarah and her crew.  It was so great to see them. We pretty much dropped off our bags and headed to the expo.  We got there later than I would have liked. Not much left but still excited to get our shirts and bibs.

From there we enjoyed a great dinner at the Marathon Grill.  Andy came down to eat with us and that was such a thrill for me.  I was so happy to see him!

I was in bed by 8:30 but found it very hard to fall asleep.  At 2 AM, I woke up with a splitting headache and nausea.  I never fell back to sleep.

I was out of bed at 4:45, made my breakfast which I forced down and had a cup of coffee and some water.  Got dressed and grabbed my stuff. I was down in the lobby earlier then the girls.  I was panicking waiting for them. When they finally arrived, we walked out to find a super long line to get through security.  It was cold too but I knew it would be perfect running weather.

Once through security, I walked as close to my corral as possible and got in line for the potties there.  The race started a few minutes late due to a car accident somewhere on the course. The waiting was killing me.

I got as close to the front of my corral as I could.  I was behind the five hour pacer. I wanted to be in front of him but could not get up there. It was packed! I started to worry about that.

The National Anthem was beautiful and I cried.  This would not be the last time I cried that day.

As each corral moved up, it seemed the five hour pacers were getting further ahead of me.  I was really stressed.

Finally, at 7:39, I crossed the starting line.  I easily made my way to the five hour pace group but was running faster than I should be.  I heard one woman say she wanted a 4:59:59.  The pacer said, "You got it. Stick with me."  I wanted better than that.

I eventually passed him but he was close.  My head and stomach was getting worse with every step.  I was in trouble.

I got rid of my throwaway sweatshirt but the wind made it so I wanted to keep my gloves.  I knew I was going to see my friend Diane at mile 6 or so. I was going over in my head how I would tell her I was stopping and could she help me back to my hotel. Yeah, it was that bad.

However, when I saw her, I just started crying. Crying so hard, I found it hard to form my words. She just hugged me. I said my legs are so heavy and I feel sick. She hugged me some more and said I could do it.  At that point the five hour pace group passed us. I think I said, I have to catch that guy. Thanked her, got one more hug and took off.

Approaching mile seven, I saw my friend Therese running toward me. She had come down to cheer on all the Sub 30 members.  She started to run next to me and asked how I was. I was not good. I was crying again. I remember her saying, "No crying until the finish line."  Yeah, that was not happening!

Before I knew it, she was still with me after a mile. We were talking, not sure what about really. I know at one point I was saying, "All this hard work and I won't even finish."  She just kept running next to me.  She even grabbed water for me at the aide stations!

I remember saying, I can't do this hill and we started to walk but then the five hour pace group passed us. I was determined to catch him again.  At some point, my stomach started to feel better.  My goal for the half was 2:22/24. It was slipping away.

My friend Therese stayed with me until mile thirteen. Mile thirteen! She said she came prepared to run but I am pretty sure she did not expect to run that much.  I did not see Mr. RWM and the kids at mile thirteen and that teared me up again. Turns out they got hung up at security too. Mr. RWM had extra fuel for me, luckily, so did Therese.  We hugged and I said thank you and went on my way.

Therese snapped this in mile twelve. Finally feeling better and I even managed to smile.
A much needed hug from fellow Subber, D-Nation/LAST runner and friend, Linda.

I hit mile thirteen at 2:29:28. Missed my goal.

At this point, I had to reevaluate. What was possible and how did I feel?  I was with the five hour pace group. I decided to run with them for awhile.  It was a pace that I could run and still think and figure things out.  It was a decent group, but I kept to myself. If you know me, you know how strange that is.

Between miles eighteen and nineteen, there was a big water stop. It was a mess. Empty cups and Boom packs all over the place. The ground was gross and sticky. I pulled over too early to get water and got hung up trying to move forward. Once I got my water, the pace group was way ahead of me.  I panicked and started to sprint for them. I could not let them get away.  I caught them and realized how fast I had run. Friends, it was a 9:47 pace.  I knew I had more in me and I could still reach my goal.  I had to reevaluate again. I knew the pace group would probably come in sub five but not by much.  I wanted more than 4:59:59.

I stayed with them for awhile. I didn't want to use too much too soon and my legs were telling me they were done. But my heart wasn't.

The week leading up to the marathon, Michelle sent us motivation each day. I tried to remember each message and picture she sent. I thought about my kids and family and how much it would kill me if I let them down. They never once said I couldn't do it even when they were missing me. I thought about my friends, who were with me every step of the way. They all had a wonderful running year. I trained with them. There was no reason why I shouldn't reach my goal. I thought about Wyatt, my I Run 4 Buddy. I could not let him down. I had to keep moving forward and make him proud. I wanted to be able to send him a medal and say, yes,we did it together.

I can't remember if it was before or after mile twenty one, but the pace leader said we were forty seconds ahead of schedule. For whatever reason, that was my sign.  I made the decision to leave the group and not look back.

I ran.

I ran with my heart.

I tried not to listen to my legs. I ran for Michelle, who trained me to run on tired legs.  I ran for my kids and Mr. RWM, who supported me every single day always saying I could "win" it.  I ran for all my running buddies who encouraged me and never once let me down. I certainly wasn't going to let them down. I ran for Wyatt and thought of the picture of him sitting in his wheelchair at the bottom of the Rocky steps pointing up.  Nothing is impossible, we can do this!

In mile twenty five, Therese was running toward me again! I was so thrilled to see her. She said I was doing great and almost there. She gave me info on some of the other Sub 30 members who were finished or still running. Then she said, "Look how many people you are passing!"  There was no stopping me.

The people at the finish were loud and I loved it! Bon Jovi was blasting through the speakers on the course. I could see the finish and I felt like I was flying. I saw my family and crossed the finish line in 4:57:05.  My friends, that is a PR of 26:05.

My favorite picture of the day. My kids cheering me into the finish. Mr. RWM didn't even realize the kids were in the picture until we looked that night. Makes my heart melt.

My incredible family.

BRF#1 and me at the finish.

I know I cried tears of joy. My family was yelling at me from the fence. I got my medal. Oh man, the medal! It is by far, the best medal I have ever gotten and I am not person who is bling crazy.  This medal beats all medals.  I got my space blanket. I got cold real quick. I got some food and heard my name and saw BRF#1.  She finished within a minute of her PR which she got just four weeks ago in Hartford. Amazing.

Yes, it really rings.

Leaving the finish shoot, Stephanie from Sub 30 grabbed me. She was the one who told me my official time and guess what, I cried again.

Finally, I was reunited with my family. Hugs and tears all around. Well, tears just from me.  The rest of the day was fantastic. I felt better than I ever dreamed. My parents took the kids for an overnight and Mr. RWM and I got to spend some good, quality time with our friends, talking and laughing until I passed out that night at 7:30, watching the Wizard of Oz.

The Sub 30 crew celebrating.

Now that I had some time to think, I am certain that I sabotaged my own race with being so nervous. I was on edge for a week. I didn't sleep for a week. I stressed over every detail and made myself sick. I wish I had better control over that. It has never happened before.  Having said that, all of my training came together at the end. I never dreamed that I could run that fast after twenty miles. The strength and determination is hard to explain. My mind went somewhere else. I forgot about my legs. My heart took over. I finished the last mile with a 9:23 pace.

I am looking forward to getting back to my runs with my friends just because we want to. I know we will all pick a new goal eventually and get back to training but for now, nice and easy we go.  I started out the year thinking I would hit 750 miles. I am at 967.6. I think my last goal of the year will be 1000 miles.  I am sure I can do it.

Marathon number one and two. Both awesome!

Thank you, Kim!

Thanks for being with me on this crazy running journey. I don't know where we are going next, but it is sure to be a good time wherever it is.

Run Strong, Think Big!  And have a wonderful Thanksgiving! ~ Nicole

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Morning Dark vs. Nighttime Dark

When I had originally planned this weeks runs, I did not take into account that the kids had a day off due to Veteran's Day.  I didn't worry too much about it because Mr. RWM is home and I would still be able to run. Or so I thought.

I totally forgot that George marches in the parade with the Cub Scouts.  We were supposed to have him at the meeting spot at 9:15 for a 10am parade.  The weather was iffy. I may have prayed that it would all be canceled.  I prayed so much that I didn't really sleep.  Finally, at 7:45 am I got the message that the parade was canceled. I finally fell asleep.

I knew my running group was planning to meet at noon for a run so I thought I would just make that.  Then, we got the call that all the kids friends were meeting at Launch and well, I felt bad that my kids would miss out. We hurried and got ready to meet everyone at 11.

BRF#1 texted me that she would be at the track at three. I knew it would be close but thought that maybe I could make it.  That was not to be. We were starving after the kids jumped for two hours and we waited way too long at a restaurant for food.  Mr. RWM and George both had an appointment for a hair cut and then from there, we had to get George to choir practice.

By the time we were home, and I got dressed to run, it was 5:30 and dark.

I put on my headlamp and reflective jacket and hit the road. It didn't take long for me to realize that this was not a good time to run. There were a lot of cars on the road. The lights were bright. I knew they could see me but I was having trouble seeing the road unless I put my head down for the headlamp to hit the road. This was not working or me.

After a mile, I decided to get off the main road and just run in my neighborhood. The workout was 4 x 400.

I live on a hill as most of you know, so of course I worked it out that the 400's were on the downhill and the recovery was back up.

Here is the thing, running at night when it is dark is not the same as running in the morning when it is dark.  It's busier and scary when you are alone.  I couldn't see that well and I may have freaked myself out because of noises they may or may not have been there.  Not to mention, the weird thoughts going through my head about unknown scary things that could have happened but, of course, did not.

I decided to cut my two mile cool down short and just go home.  I don't feel bad about it. I am happy to be home and safe and will think twice before I do that again.

My 400's were good and I can count on one hand how many runs I have between now and my marathon.  Crazy.

When do you prefer to run? Do you get freaked out in the dark? At night? 

Mr. RWM is a veteran and we are very proud of him.  Thank you to all the men and women serving our country. God bless you all.

One last thing, my I Run 4 buddy's grandfather sent me this today.

These little things really mean a lot to me right before I tackle my marathon. I have a big goal in mind and some days, it just seems like an impossible task. The support and love from all of you is overwhelming and much appreciated.  Thank you!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Where Has RWM Been?

Well, I have been right here. The struggle was getting the thoughts and words that were in my head to paper. I looked at this blank screen a bunch of times and just couldn't form a sentence.  Marathon training has dominated my time and thoughts. The start of a new school year always comes with new challenges and a busier schedule. Not to mention, Mr. RWM travels a little extra this time of year and, well, we just function better as a foursome then a threesome.

So what has happened the last two months? I ran two great races.  October 10, I ran the Hartford Half Marathon. It was my first time at this race and it also completed the CT Triple Challenge.  The first two in the series, Middletown and Mystic, did not go as planned. Hartford, however, was a completely different story. I loved this race! My plan was to stick as close to marathon pace as possible with a finish goal time of 2:24.

I ran well. I had fun. I felt so good that about mile eight, I even had a shot of beer!  I finished in 2:22:43 which is an 11:13 pace. I was very happy with this finish.  BRF#1 ran the full at Hartford. She also had a fantastic race with a 4:07 finish. For her, this was a twenty minute PR!  I was just so happy for her!  I am hoping for a similar PR at Philly and hope she has rubbed off on me a little.

Love this one!

Yes, Sarah was there too and she also had a fantastic race!

How cool is this! They had golf carts to take you to gear check so you didn't have to walk.  

Jenn was more happy to see the golf carts than Sarah and I were. She deserved that ride!

Proud finishers!

Our traditional brunch with mimosas.  A highlight of the day!

On October 25, I ran the Citizen's Bank Pell Bridge Run. This was the fifth year for this race and it is the race that really started it all for me. When I first saw this race advertised, I just knew I had to run it and started to take my running a little more seriously.  I am happy to say that year number five did not disappoint.  I ran with my friend KB. We lined up with the ten minute pace group and did not slow down on the hill.  Once we got to the top, we took our traditional picture.  Then it is down hill and pretty much straight into the finish.  I knew I was headed for a PR but what I didn't know is it was going to be a sub 40 race.  I finished in 39:49 which is a 9:57 pace.  I also finished 53 out of 205 women in my age group.  Wonder what would have happened if I didn't stop for a picture?
Early start. Still dark.
Beautiful sky.
At the start and ready to go! 
At the top of the bridge. The wind was something fierce and I had to hold on to my hat for a good chunk of the race.

As you can see from these races, my training is paying off.  Michelle designed a plan for me that had me a little nervous but now, I can see it all coming together and think I can get my Sub 5 marathon in Philadelphia.

My run last weekend was eighteen miles. I ran it in 3:15 which is a 10:51 pace. If I can pull that off in Philly, I will be so stinking happy.  I am hoping the weather cooperates with a nice, cool day.  At this point, I am excited but also feeling a little panicked. I put the work in. My last two "long" runs will be a thirteen and an eight.  We are pretty much there my friends and I think I am ready.

Thanks for all the messages and comments on my FB page.  I am sorry it has been so long since I blogged but you can always see what is happening there if I am slacking here.  Hopefully, my writing drought is over.

Tell me how have you been? Did you already run your fall marathon or is it still coming up? Will I see you in Philly on the 22nd?

One last thing. In all my craziness of marathon training, the kids, and just life in general, I got frustrated with my hair and decided I needed a change.  I did this:
After and before. About eight inches gone. I think I am ok with it.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Well, That was a Fine, How Do You Do!

Todays run was supposed to be seven miles with five at tempo.  Tempo for me is 9:35 to 9:55.

Mile one. 
Yay!  I am with friends and we are running. So happy to see everyone.  10:46

Mile two.
Find the speed you feel good at and push it.  9:37

Mile three, and TMI.
Had to work harder for this one and then realize, unexpectedly, I need to find a restroom.  This 43 year old #motherruner is having a leakage problem.  WTH!!! I delivered both babies by C-Setion!!!  Finished in 9:42.

Found bathroom.  Car keys fall out of unzipped pocket right into the toilet.  Seriously!  You have got to be kidding me!

Mile four.
Start out ok but suddenly feel the need to throw up.  I slow down and at the end of the mile, I dry heave on the side of the road wondering what the hell I am doing here. Garmin says 10:22 but Strava says 8:14.  Pretty sure Garmin is right but the Strava time would explain my wanting to puke. And cry, but mostly puke.

Mile five.
I tell BRF#1 that I am taking this one easy.  She runs ahead and I watch her run off into the sunset.  Yeah, I am that dramatic today. And no, there was no sunset.  I run/walk this mile and realize I am walking faster than I am running.  So many things wrong with that.  13:28

Mile six.
I start to feel better physically and decided to just run this mile at the pace that gets it done.  Mentally, I am questioning every thought I have ever had about running another marathon.  What makes me think I can do this again?  Why do I do this to myself? How in the hell is the woman pushing the jogging stroller on the other side of the road going faster than me?  Dammit! Just call off he marathon. You did one. One is good.  12:36

Mile seven.
I turn off my watch.  I walk to my truck.  It's a cool down mile and I can't run much slower than I already did.  I smile when I see my truck which I have named Sunshine, BTW.  I get in truck. Blast the A/C and turn on the radio.  Bon Jovi's, Born to be my Baby is on. I smile again.  I calm down.  I can run another marathon.  It is 90 today and I know damn well that I would have had a better run if it was cooler.  I didn't give up even though I wanted to with every step I took.  I will keep moving forward.  After a good cry and a shower.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Week Two of Marathon Training

Hey all!

Well, I completed week two of training and it has some good and one really bad run.

My long run this week was twelve miles.  I have the choice of doing my long runs on Sunday or Monday.  Once the kids are back in school they will all be Monday but right now, most of them are Sunday.  So, instead of taking a step back after running the Blessing on Friday and doing my long run on Monday, I headed out early on Sunday.

As soon as I started running, I knew things were not good. My legs were tried and I considered just stopping at two or three miles.  I didn't.

The first six I was with a friend and the conversation was able to keep my mind occupied but it was still tough moving. At the car, for water and fuel, I went back and fourth with, "Should I stop or go on?"  I went on.

I was moving slow but moving.  BRF#1 was still running but we are training at different goal paces.  But because she is BRF#1 she would run ahead and circle back to see how I was doing.  It gave me something to look forward to.

When I hit mile nine, I looked at my watch and it read, two hours and two minutes. I just felt defeated at that point.  It had taken me longer to get to that point, then some of my ten and eleven mile runs.  I walked and ran the last three miles.  Mostly walked I think.  I finished but can't say I was happy about it. In fact, it is up there in my top three worst runs of all time.

Lesson learned. I needed an extra rest day after such a good race. I won't make that mistake again.

On Tuesday, I took a Total Sculpt class at the gym.  It has been a very long time since I stepped into an exercise class setting.  I enjoyed it but realize I am not in the shape I thought I was.  I have a lot of upper body work to do. I enjoyed the class and will add it in as part of my cross training each week.

Wednesday was my very first, track workout.  I have put some miles in on a track before but not something specific.  My workout called for 4 x 400 with a two mile warm up and two mile cool down.

I met BRF#1 at the track and we did our warm up on the bike path.  I have to say, I am really pleased with how my first track work out went. I might even say I enjoyed it.  I had target paces for each 400.  I only went over once but know I went too fast during my rest interval and that played a part.  It was not an easy workout but one that I had fun doing, I even did my two mile cool down on the track instead of the bike path.  I do think that track workouts will be something I look forward too when they show up in the plan.

My last run of the week, was four easy miles with five strides.  My friend KB met me and did them with me.  We had a nice run and I felt it was another successful workout.  Strides are not my favorite thing, especially because you are supposed to do them at the end on tired legs, but I do see how they will benefit me.

What made this run and day even more fun, was the fact that I was the guest Instagramer for Skirt Sports.  I will tell you more about that in a different blog, but KB got a few fun shots of me running.

This is one of my favorites.
I am already in week three and there is one workout that has me a little worried. Keep your fingers crossed for me and I let you know how it goes...

Sixteen weeks to Philly!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Blessing Recap 2015

Friday was the 44th Blessing of the Fleet, here in Narragansett.  The weekend kicks off with a ten mile road race.  This was my fourth year running it.

Pretty much every one of my friends runs this race and those that don't, are on the course cheering on the runners.  No better way to spend a Friday night than with 3900 of your closest friends.

We have friends that live on the course and they have a Blessing Party every year.  We got to their house about four and that is where my kids and Mr. RWM stayed while I ran.  Their house is also the last water stop on the course.

I had to walk to the start which was just under a mile away.  I picked Mary up on the way and we headed to the start.  My friend KB was waiting for me at the school and then we eventually saw all of our friends.  I wished my speedier friends a good race and then I lined up with Mary, Elaine, KB and her friend Jen.

The gun went off and it took about two minutes to get to the starting mat.  I felt good.  This part of the race is crazy crowded. I was focusing on not losing my friends. KB and her friend are pretty speedy and they were gone before we hit the first half mile.  I am so proud of how far she has come. She finished her first Blessing in a fantastic time of 1:37:31. Way to go KB!

Before we hit the first mile, I started to get a burning pain in my stomach.  I was also struggling to keep up with Mary and Elaine, I am pretty sure because of the pain I was feeling.  Around mile two I stopped for water but that didn't really help.

In mile three I really fell behind the girls but knew I was just not feeling good.  Off to the right, the clouds looked angry. I knew the rain was coming and soon.  We saw lighting and heard thunder.

Running up Knowlesway, a friend of mine said hi and ran with me a bit.  It was nice to see a friendly face.  We hit mile four and the rain started. I was actually happy about it. It cooled me off and about a half mile later, my stomach pain was gone.  Just like that. Gone.  I was finally running happy.

I checked my watch and was pretty sure my goal of 1:50 was still doable with a little work.  Once you turn off 108, we hit some of my favorite roads to run. I knew I could do well here.

Back on S. Pier Road with only about two miles to go, I slowed down to grab a water.  I heard a women yell out to me about following me on FB.  I caught up to her when she slowed to a walk and I asked if she was ok.  We chatted about marathons (she ran Boston) and ran together. She was very nice and I was thrilled to meet her in person.

A few minutes later, a spectator yelled out, "Nice skirt!".  I said thank you and so did the women next to me. We looked at each other and laughed. We were both, not only in skirts, but Skirt Sports skirts. Turns out it was Jess of The Silvah Lining. We had been following each other for a long time and finally, we met, by chance, in person. She was lovely. We talked about our families and running. She is now training for her first marathon, MCM, and I am excited for her.

Before I knew it, I saw my son holding two cups of water and running toward me.  I was so happy to see him.  He told me he was running with me and off we went.  I waved and said hi to all my friends as I ran by but there was no sign of Mr. RWM or Gracie.  That is, until I turned the corner. Mr. RWM was running to catch up to me. I pulled over and gave him a kiss.

As George and I were running, he told me about all the fun he was having at the party.  He was so excited telling me about how fast the winner, (Matt Pelletier), was when he went by the water stop.  He also told me how he got to hand water to BRF#1. He knew that would make me happy.  I was thrilled that he enjoyed handing out water to all the runners even in the rain.

I heard my name and saw my neighbors cheering me on. I see them in this spot every year and I look forward to that. The next thing I knew, I was running next to Beth. It was a surprise to see her knowing what her goal was. We chatted a few seconds but I had to pull away. I knew I could make my goal so George and I took off and headed straight to the finish line. When I stopped my watch, it read, 1:50:00.  My official time is 1:49:59! Goal met and my first really good race of the year!

I turned around to see Beth coming in behind me.  We chatted quickly and then George and I started to walk back up to the party.  At this time, he handed me a ring pop.  This race does not give medals, so that was my medal.  My heart melted.

We ran into KB and her family and I was so happy to see her and hear how awesome her race was.

Back at the party, I put on warm clothes and ate a fantastic cheeseburger. It was so nice to see the last runners rounding the corner for the last half mile and be with so many of my friends. It was a fantastic night and I can't wait until next year.  Well, easy to say that now, haahaaha.

I was disappointed that I did not see BRF#1 at the finish line to congratulate her.  She got herself a shiny new PR of 1:26;18! Way to go my friend!

The volunteers and spectators were once again fantastic.  It is much harder to stand in the rain then run in the rain and I give them a lot of credit for staying out there.  I may be a little partial, but the last water stop was my favorite with the cutest kids around.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole