Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Training Update

Okay, let's just get this out of the way first: I suck at updating my blog. I know it, I feel bad about it, and I do have aspirations to improve. But for the time being, you'll have to take what you can get: an amalgamation of the past month's training and a few photos of good-looking ladies.

Secondly, let's consider this my long overdue "official" announcement: I'm racing the Vermont City Marathon (yay!)! In five weeks (yikes!)! Similar to Hartford, this is a relatively fast, relatively flat regional race within reasonable driving distance of my home that has a great setup in place for local and regional elites. They've graciously invited me to participate this year and I couldn't be more excited about chasing my second Olympic Trials qualifying time there! As an added bonus, I'll have the queenmaking help of Charlotte friend Aaron Linz (I would link to his blog here, but it's either defunct or even more outdated than my own). Aaron's a great runner and solid pacer and was easily persuaded to become my buddy on race day. I love it when a plan comes together!

So, with 26.2 looming on the horizon, exactly what is the state of my current fitness? I can confidently say it's situated somewhere between "not terrible" and "reasonably sufficient." Am I in sub-2:43 shape right this minute? Probably not. Can I get there in five weeks? Totes. And unlike at Cal, I'm not going to hold myself to lofty--some might say unreasonable--ambitions of smashing my PR and attaining the "A" standard of sub-2:37. After a winter like ours, and with only six weeks of solid training under my belt, that's simply not realistic. I won't go into the day expecting anything miraculous or exceptional, and I'll be just thrilled if I can run 2:41-2:42 and punch my ticket to Los Angeles in 2016.

A few notables from the past 4-6 weeks:

1. Four runs in the 19-21 mile range, three of them taking place the day after pretty substantial workouts, all of them taking place with Sarah B. She's crushing Boston next week and then presumably taking some time off, which means I'll have to find some sort of intrinsic motivation to put on my big girl pants and do the rest of my long runs without her between now and VCM. Is this possible?! TBD.

2. Lots more runs and workouts and even a spontaneous game of Taboo with my new Marblehead neighbor, Larissa. She and her husband were on vacation last week in some tropical clime and I still managed to run a track workout, so perhaps I can do this by myself after all. (Except that Jordan did my track session with me. But you're focusing on all the wrong details.)

3. A fun, amazing, abs hurt from laughing so hard weekend in Charleston with my Charlotte running besties, which was only slightly marred by a mysterious stomach bug that derailed my hopes of notching a new 10k PR at the Cooper River Bridge Run. I woke up feeling distinctly nauseous, half-heartedly jogged 13 minutes of warmup in hopes that conditions would improve, started the race realizing they wouldn't, ran a 5:28 first mile, then promptly threw up in the bushes. Womp womp. On a positive note, Caitlin cruised to an impressive 34:45 finish and scored some serious cash for placing second American, which meant she was willing and able to buy shots for anyone who felt well enough to drink them later that night.

At the expo on Friday evening with my lovely ladies

Headed out for a night on the town post-race. What a difference 24 hours and a curling iron can make!

Danielle M. Crockford + Dalena M. Custer = Run DMC. Fun shirts to celebrate their joint b-day on our Sunday morning wog! (P.S. Once you spot Nick's epic photobomb you won't be able to focus on anything else.)

4. A handful of solid, respectable, not-life-changing-but-somewhat-encouraging marathon-pace workouts such as 3x20 minutes and 2x6 miles, plus a few laps around the Beverly High School oval at slightly faster than 5k pace. I finally downloaded Garmin Connect, so if you're really that interested and need a distraction to pass a slow day at work, knock yourself out.   

5. An unexpected but totally, unquestionably deserved nomination for the 2013 Running Photo of the Year contest featuring some (family-friendly) hot tub action with Laurie, Caitlin, Sarah C. and OH YEAH MEB after last year's Grandma's Marathon. At press time we are currently in second place behind some other picture that is somehow managing to outrank ours despite its total and complete lack of quality and overall hotness. To be honest, the voting process wasn't 100% clear to begin with and I'm not 100% sure the polls are still open, but just in case you should probably click on this link and then like or tweet our photo for good measure.

So, there you have it. Spring is finally here, my pale legs have made their first tentative forays into the ever-warming sunlight, and the training and racing season has finally begun in earnest. As I type this, tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of last year's Boston Marathon and all the events surrounding it. This entire week will serve as an opportunity to reflect and remember, while looking forward to this year's Marathon Monday with pure joy and excitement. I can't wait to race the BAA 5k and then cheer on my marathoning friends as I've done the past two years, watching Boylston Street be reclaimed for good. After that, it's just four short weeks until my own 26.2 attempt in Burlington.

I'll be ready.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

If It Looks Like Marathon Training...

98 miles
4 doubles
3 workouts
20.5 mile-long run

82 miles
4 doubles
2 workouts
19-mile long run

If last week represented my first tentative steps onto the big-girl diving board, then this week was the headfirst plunge into the mileage abyss. Not only did I complete three workouts (well, one of those was a mini-workout--more on that in a minute) and a 20+ mile long run, but I actually felt strong and healthy and pretty darn good the entire week.

The week started out strong (and chilly) bright and early on Tuesday morning with another near-single digit road workout with Larissa. I was a bit apprehensive about this, both due to the temperature and the fact that I'd completed my longest run in months less than 48 hours prior, but we somehow managed to stay warm and positive enough to take care of business. (At least until my body temperature plummeted on the aptly named cooldown, rendering my extremities totally numb and my fingers incapable of even grasping and inserting my housekey into the door without Larissa's assistance.)

Workout #1: 2x1.5 mile progression w/2 min. jog, each 800m @3:10, 3:00, 2:50; 4x600m @5:20 pace (2:00) w/2 min. jog = 9 miles total

My next (mini-)workout took place during Thursday's lunch hour with my boss and two coworkers. They're all training for a late spring marathon and had 6x800m on tap at 5k pace. The problem is, they're fairly new runners and rarely race 5k's, so the pace was approximated to be 6:30 although I suspected they could go faster. Sure enough:

Workout #2: 6x800m w/3 mins. jog in 3:10, 3:10, 3:07, 3:07, 3:00, 2:59 = 7 miles total

From my perspective, it felt great to open up the legs a little bit without being too taxing, and I loved helping my comrades achieve the feeling of triumph that comes with exceeding your expectations and physical limitations. (Seriously, when's the last time you thought, "Well golly, I just couldn't seem to run slow enough during that workout!" Yeah, me neither. But I'm happy that such a euphoria apparently exists for others.)

But without a doubt, and like a true American weekend warrior, my two biggest days of the week took place on Saturday and Sunday. I'd planned well in advance for a long run on Sunday with Sarah Cummings, who was making a quick trip to Boston, and then I somehow found myself getting roped into (read: eagerly volunteering for) Sarah Bard's lengthy Saturday workout as well. On an unseasonably warm morning (or perhaps only unseasonable relative to the rest of the week/month/year), Sarah and I joined Kevin and another BAA male escort whose name escapes me for some 4-3-2-1 mile action on the Charles.

Workout #3: 4 mile (6:03, 6:02, 6:05, 6:08), 3:30 jog, 3 mile (6:00, 6:07, 5:57), 2:30 jog, 2 mile (5:50, 5:45), 1:30 jog, 1 mile (5:43) = 16 miles total

Takeaways from this workout were:

1. Sarah is really fit.
2. There may be hope for me yet.
3. I love seeing happy, active people enjoying the river on a Saturday morning--except when they're in my way.
4. 50 degrees is, indeed, warm enough to comfortably slam a post-run Frappuccino.

Though I questioned my weary body's ability to move, I somehow managed to remain bipedal and reasonably functional for an "easy" 20-miler (2:30 and 20.66 miles to be exact, not that I am enslaved to my new Garmin or anything) with the Sarahs and a few different male BAA escorts on Sunday. During that time we saw over half the Boston course and a 60-year-old man running shirtless wearing khaki pants and oven mitts, so I can't help but consider it a win.

Will I be able to walk tomorrow? Debatable. Am I officially training for some sort of spring marathon? It sure looks that way... 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Being a Runner is Funner with Friends

This entry could've more boringly been titled "February in Review." (Yes, that's how far I've fallen with my blogging; I now find it totally acceptable to lump an entire month into one succinct entry.) But I do love me some alliteration AND assonance (God bless my freshman English teacher), and more importantly I really do feel like the opportunities I've had to run and workout with other people comprise the only legitimate training I can claim for the month. In addition to a weekend in the Southeast with Jeannette and some solid miles on the Boston course with Sarah, there's been another exciting development: a new training partner right here on the North Shore! (Oh, and for the record, my weekly mileage for February was: 70, 74, 80, 82. Booooring.)

As many of you know, other than Jordan (when he's in town) and Abbey D (when she's spending a few days at home in between winning national titles), I don't really have any training companions in the Salem-Beverly-Marblehead area who I can logistically run with every day. Driving into Boston and back before work simply isn't feasible, and going there in the evening is usually the last thing I want to do after a long day at the office. Last Sunday, at the 10-miler in Amherst, I ran into Larissa Park at the awards ceremony. I'm not sure if we'd ever been formally introduced, but we were familiar with each other from local races and from her trouncing me at the Beverly Homecoming 5k this past summer. When she told me that she and her husband had recently relocated to Marblehead from Somerville, I was more than pleasantly surprised. She was so close by that we could run to meet each other! She would actually ensure that I got up when my alarm went off in the morning! We immediately took advantage of this newfound proximity by meeting up three separate times last week: on Wednesday morning for a speed workout devised by her coach (in 15 degree-weather), on Friday morning with Jordan for a 10-mile progression run (which was inconceivably even colder than Wednesday), and on Sunday with Jordan and Sarah for some long leisurely miles through Marblehead and Salem. In the span of one week, I'd already done more quality mileage with Larissa than the treadmill slogging I would've suffered through in her absence. If this is a sign of things to come, I think my spring training could finally be looking up!

This happened on Friday morning...

...and, as a result, so did this. #sweatsicles

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Two Races, Two Ass Kickings

It's true what they say (and by "they" I mean I'm saying it now): there's nothing quite like a few solid wallopings to really motivate you to get in shape. As a bonus, I had the pleasure of getting thoroughly spanked two weekends in a row, and suffice it to say I'm experiencing a new resolve to work hard and ensure that the same thing doesn't happen (or at least, not quite so handily) the next time around.

To be fair, these dismal outcomes were hardly unexpected, considering pretty much my entire winter of "training" has unfolded like this:

Jordan: What day can you workout this week? Wednesday?
Meagan: (checks weather app) Looks like another storm is moving in Tuesday night. And I'm traveling Thursday. Better make it Tuesday.
J: Okay, Tuesday morning?
M: (expands hourly detail in weather app) The wind chill is going to be single digits. I doubt I can run fast then. Want to go at lunch?
J: Sure, but I have a meeting at 12. Can we go at 1?
M: No, I have a meeting at 2. How about we cut out a little early and go at 4?
J: Perfect.
M: (3pm, looks outside incredulously, then glares at blatantly deceptive weather app, then looks outside again) Son of a! It already started snowing!
J: (doubtfully, furrows brow) Maybe it will stop.
M: (3:45pm, looks outside again) Well, you're right, it stopped snowing...and now it's sleeting. The roads are going to be a mess already.
J: Want to go jog five miles on the treadmill?
M: Duh.

Last weekend, I participated in the Mercedes-Benz Marathon Weekend in Birmingham, AL for the fourth consecutive year. This race holds a special place in my heart, as it's where I snuck under the radar and nabbed my Trials qualifier in 2011. (It's also the only race expo I've ever worked where the partner retailer calls me in advance to ask what kind of wine I'd like to drink while working their expo because they know I don't drink beer. Trak Shak, you complete me.) I then came back to win the half in 2012 and placed second in the half last year, so despite my lack of fitness I illogically had high hopes for another podium finish this time around. But alas, it was not to be. Local standout Erica Speegle ran a 2+ minute PR to finish in 1:15-mid, with my friend Jeannette Faber a close second in 1:15:53 (or 1:16:05 depending on which results you look at; obviously, runner code dictates we agree upon the faster time). I shuffled along in fourth place, also known as "first sucker who just misses out on a giant check," managing 6-minute pace on the rolling course. It was neither my fastest nor slowest run there but my first time out of the money, which never feels great.

Yet the weekend was not all for naught. I road tripped back to Nashville with Jeannette and got in a few quality double-digit runs in the delightfully sunny, snow-free environs of a more temperate climate. "This is it!" I told myself triumphantly as I boarded my on-time flight back to Boston (via Philadelphia) on Tuesday morning. "This is the turning point when I stop grabassing around and start getting serious about my spring training!" Fast forward to three hours, a canceled flight and a few delays later, and I found myself cursing Mother Nature yet again and drowning my sorrows in a surprisingly delightful combination of Chick-Fil-A waffle fries and $6 pinot grigio in Concourse C of PHL. Literally and figuratively, thanks to the hellacious winter I just cannot win right now.

And yet, inexplicably, this weekend I found myself begging for more. My sometimes training partner and oftentimes Gchat companion Sarah Bard tipped me off that she was planning to make the 2+ hour trek to Amherst on Sunday for the first race in the USATF-NE Grand Prix series, the Jones 10 Miler. Seeing this as an opportunity for a forced extended tempo with possible prize money (and an excuse for post-race brunch), I agreed to join. "After all," Sarah confidently and rhetorically assured me, "how many fast people are going to want to drive all the way to Amherst for a ridiculously hilly 10-miler in the middle of February?" Well, as it turned out, quite a few. In the time it took me to park, make my way to registration and fork over the $45 entry fee (which included nothing, least of all a t-shirt (not that I wanted one, but it's the principle), except my race number and a few questionably rusty safety pins), I'd already spotted at least a half dozen women who had beaten me or come pretty darn close to doing so at various races over the past year. My previously optimistic plan to "stick my nose in there and contend for the win" was summarily downgraded to "shoot for top 10," blowing straight past "place in the top three" and coming dangerously close to the graveyard of "win my age group." On the now-somber warmup, Sarah and I bumped into a trio of formidable Maine runners, Sheri Piers, Kristin Barry and Erica Jesseman, all of whom have faster PRs than me at approximately every distance. As we jogged, Sheri joked (but seriously) that last year's winner, Irish Olympian Steph Reilly, stated afterward that it was the "f#$&ing hardest race ever." Seeing as, in case you glossed over that part, she's an Olympian, this information didn't exactly do anything to alleviate my apprehension.

At the outset, however, things progressed swimmingly. The first two miles, and in particular the second mile, were largely downhill (feel free to see this as foreshadowing for the latter part of the course), and other than a few tiptoe-inducing icy turns it was smooth sailing. A brief glance at my watch indicated I'd comfortably split two miles in 11:37 and was among the top three or four females. Unfortunately, the fun and games all came to an abrupt halt during the third and fourth miles, which I had been warned in advance were drastic uphills. (Mercifully, I forgot to wear my new Garmin and also neglected to peek at the third mile split (possibly because I was 100% focused on trying not to walk), but I learned later that Erica--who, keep in mind, was already a good distance ahead of me at this point--split a whopping 7:00.) Just when the road leveled out and the torture was seemingly over (for the time being), we turned onto a dirt road. This would not be noteworthy except for the fact that the past few days' slightly milder, rainy weather had resulted in much of the snow melting (and our condo building's basement flooding, but that's neither here nor there) but also, paradoxically, icing over many sections of road. So what in better times might simply be an innocuous dusty detour was now a half icy, half muddy mess. Within seconds, everyone in sight was slipping around and splattered shoulder to ankle with mud. The next few miles were dangerous at worst, frustrating at best, and I passed the halfway point in 30:30--almost 90 seconds slower than I'd eclipsed the same marker at Mercedes a week prior. I'd managed to hemorrhage almost a full minute in the past few miles and was feeling worse with each passing second. Punishing hills, ice, mud, potholes; this wasn't a road race, it was a 10-mile cross-country course!

Fortunately, miles 6-8 led us back onto pavement and were gradually downhill, and I somehow clawed my way back to a slightly sub-6 average with two to go. But lest there be any danger of me finishing in a respectable time, we then merged back onto the original road from whence we came and faced a punishing uphill for the next mile and a half. By the time I crossed the line fourth (and winning my age group, holla!) in 60:30 I was equal parts convinced that I was going to really start training now or never run another step for the rest of my life. (It is worth noting at this point that I am subsequently leaning toward the latter option given that winner Megan Hogan ran 55:30 and obliterated the almost 30-year-old course record previously set by Nancy Conz, who for the record was no slouch herself. I can confidently say that there will be no point in my running career at which I am capable of such flagrant badassery.)

But seriously, you guys. It's time for me to get in shape.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Meanwhile, In 2014

Jan 13-19
80 miles
14-mile long run
9-mile hilly uptempo at 6:28 pace
3 runs in Pittsburgh
1 treadmill run

Jan 6-12
65 miles
15-mile long run with the BAA
6 treadmill runs
3 canceled flights

Dec 29-Jan5
70 miles
13-mile long run with Hilary
4-mile race in 23:18
3xmile, 2x800 cutdown at Harvard indoor with Melissa and Sarah B
4 treadmill runs

So, you may have noticed I did not pen an effusive "2013 Year in Review." Or, maybe you didn't. Either way, I haven't written one, largely because there's not much to review in terms of running accomplishments. Honestly, in thinking back to my mindset a year ago, I may have been a bit...overzealous with my aspirations. After all, I was coming off a year of PR's in every distance from 10 miles up to the marathon, and I naively assumed that this trajectory of success would continue to skyrocket on a perfectly linear path right on through the next 12 months.

But, to sum up 2013 in a nutshell: it didn't happen. And that's okay.

Looking ahead, I'm no less motivated or determined to improve than I was last January, but this time around my optimism is also tinged with a healthy dose of reality. In running as in eating airport sushi, there are no guarantees, and I know I need to appreciate exactly where I'm at right now while at the same time striving to get back to--and eventually surpass--where I've been. I can only take it one week at a time.

Despite that heartwarming sentiment, it would be disingenuous of me to claim that the first 19 days of this new year have been all midgets and peanut butter. (Although there was a midget working the water stop at my New Year's Day race. But I digress.) It started out on a promising note, with the aforementioned four-miler on January 1st that took place on our familiar training roads here in Salem. Despite frigid, windy weather (first time I've ever raced in thermal tights, and I was never in any danger of overheating) I managed a halfway respectable 5:50 pace. So you're saying there's a chance! But the first snowstorm of the year roared in less than 24 hours later, ushering in the now-legendary polar vortex, which meant I spent much of the following week trying to convince myself that five and five on the YMCA treadmill was a perfectly acceptable double. Suffice it to say my momentum came to a sputtering halt.

But this week has been better. The air is thawed, the snow banks melted, the black ice practically a distant memory. I got in a few solid runs on a business trip to Pittsburgh, including a 12x1 minute workout that I was way more proud of than could ever possibly be warranted. (One of the ancillary benefits of easing into training again: excessive boosts of pride and self-esteem instantly gained by clearing the lowest of hurdles. Courageously soldiered on for six entire treadmill miles instead of stopping at a lowly five? Brilliant! Only hit the snooze button once this morning? YOU ARE AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE.) On Saturday I took to one of my favorite training grounds (the Marblehead Neck) in some of my least favorite conditions (36 degrees, windy, raining), and surprised myself with a very comfortable uptempo effort on the unrelenting hilly terrain. In another exciting development, I was greeted upon returning from my trip this week by a care package from Nuun, welcoming me as an official member of their 2014 racing team. Rarely is a Nuun bottle far from my grasp whether I'm running, working, traveling or just lounging around pantsless drinking wine and updating my blog (gotta stay hydrated!), so needless to say I'm thrilled to make our relationship official.

Just a small sampling of my goodies from @nuunhydration

Will this trend of positivity continue? All signs point to yes...but, realistically, not next week. I'll be spending Monday night through Sunday in Salt Lake City at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, our biggest trade show of the entire year, and it's a doozy. The week entails a punishing schedule that includes four long days on the expo floor (not including an additional day of setup and a half day of breakdown) consisting of one presentation after another after another. I'll be eating like crap, drinking too much, sleeping too little and thoroughly exhausting myself by having to be unfailingly nice to people the whole damn time. I will also, ineluctably, end up with a cold. This will be my third year in attendance and the first time I'm aspiring to maintain some semblance of training throughout the whole endeavor. (Two years ago it was the week after the Trials, and last year I was darn proud of myself for getting up every morning to slog through six miles on the hotel treadmill.) Best case scenario, I'll get in a few miles of altitude training and not return home sick or morbidly obese. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Nedlo Family Christmas Run

My dad, John Nedlo, henceforth referred to as J-Ned, had but one meager wish this Christmas: to rewrite, make that rerun, history. You see, J-Ned has undertaken the famed Boston Marathon two times with, shall we say, unsatisfactory results. He unwittingly picked two of the hottest years on record, '03 and '05 (not quite as steamy as '12, but close enough), and as a result ended up semi-coherently Gallowalking his way straight into the medical tent both times. To my knowledge, his finish line photos don't include the celebratory hand-holding of two Fuel Belt-clad Team in Training participants like someone's who shall remain nameless (but rhymes with Schmallen Schrickland) and whose epic and almost literal meltdown is chronicled here, but I'm pretty sure in '05 I spent the better part of two hours frantically darting up and down the crowded Back Bay streets calling everyone on my emergency contact list only to discover J-Ned slumped up against the side of a random building awaiting the sweet, sweet embrace of death.

This is not J-Ned. But it is my favorite Boston finish line photo of all time.

So anyhow, back to Christmas present. J-Ned wanted redemption, or at minimum a pleasant, memorable stroll up and down the Newton hills, through Brookline and down Commonwealth before hanging right on Hereford, left on Boylston. I was happy to oblige, and even snapped some pics along the way seeing as he's long since burned the official race photographs from the aforementioned attempts. And though he's allegedly sworn off marathons, I wouldn't be surprised if J-Ned makes one more trek from Hopkinton before hanging up his shoes for good. Maybe next year Santa will bring him a new, shiny BQ!

J-Ned ready to roll at the Newton fire station, mile 17.2-ish

One John posing with another

Taking a quick break before we tackle the final hill

One to go!
Finished! And potential future father/daughter Christmas card photo

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Down in the Valley

I've attempted to write a long-overdue blog update at several different points during the past few weeks. First, I wanted to post about my final days of training and tapering (otherwise known as "running a little, eating a lot and drinking even more wine") leading up to CIM. After comfortably securing my 2016 Trials qualifier, I planned to summarize my experience and emotions as I've done after my other marathons and significant finishes. Lastly, I'd hoped to regale you with how much I've been enjoying my down time in the days since, sampling an extra dessert here and a fumbled smack of the snooze button there. Trust me, it was going to be riveting. But in the handful of times I've had the opportunity to sit down in front of the computer to address my tens of readers, I've allowed myself instead to get distracted by things like the world's most amazing Wal-Mart "portrait studio" Christmas card photos. (Although, in my defense, can you blame me? This is redneck gold!)

Because, truth be told, I don't really feel up to the mental and emotional challenge of writing about any of that. It's something I've always done with a celebratory spirit, as if chronicling the experience is a reward in itself, something pleasurable to savor. I can't tell you how many times I re-read my own Philly entry last year, if for no other reason than to continually remind myself that I had, in fact, actually done it. (And also to double- and triple-check for typos, seeing as I was about two-thirds tucked into a bottle of wine at first writing.) 

But as I'm typing this, I don't have a whole hell of a lot to celebrate as far as running is concerned. Our entire lives, we're fed platitudes like "You can be anything you want to be!" (says the person who's never seen me dribble a basketball) and "If you work hard and persevere, you'll always achieve your goals!" (Also: "don't do drugs" and "stay in school," a directive that half my high school class seems to have disregarded.) Well, I worked pretty damn hard this time around, and at the moment I don't have much to show for it. To get even more depressingly specific, I have very little in the way of quantifiable, tangible results to show for this entire year of running. I haven't recorded a single PR (except for 8k, but that was summarily filed in the "made up distances that no one cares about" folder) nor can I name any specific race about which I feel particularly proud. Had I spent the entire year taking a pastry class or toilet training my cat (yes, despite the fact that she lacks opposable thumbs, SkyMall tells me this is a thing that is possible) or learning a new language, I would've probably emerged with a greater return on my time investment, mais oui?

Riding the high after Philly, there was simply no conceivably logical chain of events other than me running faster the next time around. I would train just as hard, race just as smart, ideally not have to take a very public bathroom break on the side of the road, and continue my solid progression away from sub-sub-elite and toward the coveted A-standard of 2:37. It sounds naive to say out loud, but I truly didn't think there was any way for this not to happen. And yet, for myriad and varied reasons which don't actually matter to the finishing clock, it simply didn't. I made it through halfway relatively on pace while trying to ignore an increasingly persistent tightness and limited range of motion in my (frozen) left hip and glute. Could I have finished? I'm sure. But anyone who reads this blog knows I've never been interested in a participant ribbon.

So at this juncture, instead of turning up the emo music and dwelling on all the things I didn't accomplish at CIM, allow me to present you with a few notable positive memories of the past few weeks via everyone's favorite blogging device, the photo montage. And rest assured, though behind all the flippant self-deprecating banter my frustration is genuine and I've indulged in a few ugly cries, I'm still as determined as ever. My next step is yet to be decided, but I can only move forward.

Jordan celebrating Thanksgiving in Ohio with mom, brother, sisters, aunts, cousins

Jealous of my hairstyle? I have a very exclusive stylist (pictured to my right)

Post-Black Friday Cincinnati shopping nourishment

My CIM roomie, Brett, reliving her epic finish from 2010

Post-race libations at the ready in the elite hospitality suite

Caitlin and Brett deep in concentration while decorating their water bottles

Thanks to Nuun Hydration for the support and the sweet black ops bottles!

Pre-race early bird special dinner with Caitlin, Jeannette and Brett

About as photogenic as it gets at 4:30 on race morning. Note to self: My Craft reflective headband works and doubles as a neck warmer.

Post-race afterpartay: a bunch of speedy marathon finishers, plus me and Jordan
Want to hear more from people who actually finished the race and qualified for the Trials? Then get up in Caitlin's and Drew's blogs. Until next time, we can all live vicariously through them.