Processing the Marine Corps Marathon and moving on to my next adventure

Until I crossed the line of the Marine Corps Marathon, I had no idea how much my DNF at the Hamilton Marathon in November 2015 was impacting me.

I dropped out of that race because I started it with an empty tank (largely job stress and burnout), and I knew then it was the right decision and I know now it was the right decision. But sometimes the right decision still hurts. I thought I was OK, but that DNF was quietly eating at me. I struggled with running for the next year; I couldn’t ever find a groove.

My training for Marine Corps was up and down, but I arrived on the finish line fired up with a mission: to finish. Even though the conditions were brutal, I knew I would finish the race. There was nothing else to do.

Volee high fives!
Volee high fives!

I did, and I’m so proud of my effort. My ability to withstand discomfort went up a few notches after that effort.

That DNF took a toll on me, but now I feel rejuvenated. I am excited about running again! And, what’s more, I’m excited about training for and running a 5K. That hasn’t happened in 10 years.

Right now, I’m on a two-week break. In two weeks, I’m going to start 5K training with Alysia Montaño’s Turkey Trot Challenge 5K plan for a Holiday Hustle on Dec. 10. My goal for the race is to finish among the top 20 women and run in the low 22-minute range or faster.

There’s so much to look forward to. I’m going to starting swimming again tomorrow and focus on strength and conditioning work all winter.

In the spring, I’m going to focus on shorter running distances such as the 5K and 10K and duathlons and sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. My big 2017 goals include a half-ironman and a November marathon (thinking Madison, Wisconsin).

The work I’m doing for triathlons and shorter distances will serve me well for the future in the marathon. I need to focus on speed for a while to give my body and brain a new challenge and to give myself a break from the grind of marathon training.

It’ll also be interesting to see what I can bring to the 5K after a few years away from it. The 5K has always been an insanely difficult race for me; my strengths lie in the grind of longer distances. When I was in high school, I had a goal and a fire lit under me to break 20 minutes for the 5K. Right now, I’m focusing on breaking 21 minutes. My lifetime PR from high school is 21:06. Since then, I’ve run under 22 minutes once. My pain tolerance has shot up in recent years, and I’m tougher than I’ve ever been. I can do this.

My heart, however, remains in the marathon. There is nothing like it. My main goal is to run 3:30 and qualify for Boston, a task I believe I’m up to. I learned a lot in 2015 and 2016, both of which were tough running years for me. But these two years have made me much stronger, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

Head up, wings out.

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