What does 8-10,000 feet elevation, 4,500 feet elevation gain, and 8 hours have to do with the 2020 Virtual Boston Marathon? Stay tuned to find out!
Now, the big question is: Did I actually run and finish the 2020 virtual Boston Marathon?
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Links Mentioned in Episode
You probably think, “Well, yeah, you did.” Okay, fine, that’s answered. But what are some of the takeaways that I got from it, and what was the experience like because it wasn’t a normal road race. So, that’s what we’re going to get into today.
Okay, so we have a huge pandemic, whatever the pandemic means. I don’t know. We’re not going there today, but because of it, so many things were canceled, and one of those things was the Boston Marathon. It was supposed to happen on April 20, 2020. It got postponed to Sept. 14, so it should have happened Monday, but it ended up getting canceled and turned virtual because of all the unknowns going on, and part of it is because of all the international travel.
It is a huge, huge race, and so many people come in from all over the world. It is an iconic, historic race that many runners chose to try to train for. They want to get there to that finish line and to the startline at Hopkinton. Now, I would have much rather been at the start line in Hopkinton and experiencing the Boston Marathon in Boston because there is nothing like it. It is such an experience in itself.
I was there in 2016. This was going to be my second time. It was going to be deemed my victory run because in 2018, the month after I qualified for the second time around for the 2020 marathon, I broke my ankle, and it was a huge recovery year, and I’m still recovering. Not knowing if my ankle was going to hold up for 26.2 miles was probably one of my biggest struggles in this training cycle.
I would be lying if I said it didn’t matter to me that it went virtual.
It mattered to me. It was important to me because it was something that I had worked hard for for years. It wasn’t just something that I decided, “Hey, I’m going to go run it,” or that I just signed up for. It was something I had to work toward. So any other runners out there, you know what I’m talking about, especially if you are working toward Boston or if you have worked toward it. I especially felt for those who it was their first-time Boston. There is nothing like that first experience, and to do it virtually is so not the same as doing it live with all the crowds, all the excitement, seeing all the historic sites in Boston, and just running it knowing that it’s your victory run for whatever reason it is.
This time around because it was virtual, and we had just moved from Minnesota to Colorado during the pandemic, I didn’t really know that many people here, and I didn’t know many runners, so I knew I was going to be running it by myself. That just didn’t sound fun to me!
Running it by myself without the adrenaline of race day, without the crowds, without a cheering section and signs and different things to keep my mind occupied didn’t sound great for 26.2 miles. But, what I decided was that I was going to make the most of it, and because it was virtual, and I knew I wouldn’t have that adrenaline and be working toward a pace or anything like that, I decided to make it an experience.
I didn’t know if my ankle would hold up or whatever would happen, I decided an experience would be the way to go … SO … we planned a camping trip! We decided to go to Staunton State Park, which is just outside of Denver, and it’s beautiful. It has beautiful scenery, so much to look at, so much to do and see, that I thought, “Well, at least then I could be surrounded by nature and mountains, the things that I love and just be able to take all of that in.”
Now, there are a couple of things that I didn’t think about!
One thing is that I’m already struggling in elevation. I moved from pretty much sea level to 5,500 feet in elevation in May, so it’s been a couple of months, but I’m struggling STILL! So I went from 5,500 feet to 8-10,000 feet of elevation in Staunton! That was really not smart of me. But, you know, it’s fine. It worked out. My lungs were burning a little bit. I got a little dizzy at certain points, but I knew to slow down and take in water and do all the things. But that makes for a hard race!
Number Two: I did not realize that Staunton State Park is mostly uphill! So, not only did I have one hill or two hills or even a little hill, the first 3.5 miles of the race was uphill, and that changed my strategy a lot because I did not realize I was going to be going uphill that much.
And the third thing I didn’t think about was the fact that I wasn’t trained for a marathon. Now, in April I got up to about 15 miles for my long run before the race got postponed, and then I kind of was working my way up in miles, and I got up to 13 because I ran Grandma’s Half Marathon virtually in June, so I did 13 miles then, but I haven’t done anything more since, and I only got up to 10 miles. Every time I got to 10 miles, my body said, “NO.” So I listened to it and rested, but that doesn’t help you when you’re running a marathon, especially if you are running half of it uphill.
So, on today’s episode, I am going to take you on a journey of running with me on the virtual marathon! So along the way I created some different videos, I took pictures, and I kind of just documented the journey in itself because it was so different. It actually was my first real trail run.
I don’t count Duluth, Minn., as my trail run because I’ve only done 3-6 miles there, and it’s not elevated like it is here. So this was a tried and true trail run where I couldn’t run the whole thing. I actually probably walked almost half of it because as you’ll find out in my episode, I had to change my strategy when I started running uphill and realized I was running uphill for 3.5 miles in the beginning. That will wear anybody out before they finish 26.2.
But, I want you to stay tuned to the end because I’m going to share with you a few takeaways that I had, and I’m also going to share with you a journey I’d like to take you on with me next! I’m really excited to share that, and I’m hoping that it will help you as you go after your own goals.
So I know one of the things we talk about on Red Hot Mindset is mindset and positivity and how to start a goal and finish it and how to get where you need to go, but one big quality of mental toughness is to finish what you start, and that was one thing I wanted to do.
I wanted to make sure I wasn’t quitting on myself no matter how tough it felt, no matter how trained I was, I wanted to know I could get that mileage again because it’s been since 2018 since I’ve run more than 15 miles, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it again.
I wasn’t about to quit now, even if it seemed impossible because one thing that I’ve learned, one is to find joy in the journey, and we are going to talk about that a little later, but I’ve also learned that with God, I am capable. He is the one that helps me through, and doing these hard things makes me have to rely on Him and His ability to do the works in my life. I love that. I love that it’s not really up to me. It’s up to me to do the work.
We’re going to dive into this episode. You’re going to hear a little about our camping experience. You’re going to hear about the race. I’m going to give you tidbits at the end, so make sure to stay for that. I hope you enjoy it. It’s a little bit different than what I normally do, but I figured it would be worth doing for you.
All right, I’m gearing up for tomorrow, we’ll be doing the Boston virtual, definitely not what I expected, not what I hoped. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t disappointed that we’re not going to be there in Hopkinton at the start line actually experiencing Boston for the second time, but I will do the virtual because I need to to be able to wear the 2020 jacket, so that’s what we’re doing.
I am in a tent, and it’s a little dark because it’s starting to get dark out here. We are actually camping. I decided that if I was going to run the virtual, I was going to run somewhere that was pretty, so we’re at a state park in Colorado, and I’m going to go enjoy the trails tomorrow. I don’t know if I’m feeling really prepped for it, not sure I’m really ready, but that’s okay because I’m just going to take my time. I don’t have a pace, I’m just going to enjoy it, take in the scenery, listen to some podcasts, and see what I can do.
I think I might have a couple of friends who might be calling me, my kids will bike a little bit of it with me. I took all last week off of running to be ready. I tapered really good, which I don’t normally do, so we’ll see what happens. I have my outfits out and ready for tomorrow, my Boston hat, KT tape, Aftershokz, all the goodies.
So, I’m going to try to get some good sleep but it’s pretty cold so the night’s probably going to be cold, but that’s okay, and when I wake up in the morning I’ll start fueling and get on my way.
It is about 7 o’clock our time, and it’s an hour later than I had planned. I planned to start around 6:00, as soon as it started getting light, but it is freezing here. It is about 38 degrees, and so all night last night we were just freezing. We didn’t bring enough blankets probably. We had a lot of them, but we convinced our little one to come sleep with us so we would have more blankets, and that worked out pretty well. We got a little warmer, but I probably only got a couple of hours of shut-eye, so we’ll see what happens.
I got my Ucan, drank that. I had my hydrate. I had some oatmeal, so I’m getting there, getting ready to go. I’ll probably be leaving in the next ten minutes, and I will see what happens.
All right, first benchmark. I am at a 5k, 3.1 miles, and I am at 45 minutes, and I am running about a 14:30-minute mile, and here’s why. I am on hiking trails, as you can see, and it is just gorgeous! I chose to do this, I chose to come to a state park in Colorado, Staunton State Park, it is so beautiful. Lots of good trails, but I underestimated how hard it would be for me to breathe, and elevation gets up to 10,000 feet. I think it starts at about 8,000, so I’m breathing really hard.
My plan was to do a 3:00 run and 30-second walk and just do that the whole time, but I’ve realized I’m going uphill a lot. There are lots and lots of hills, so my plan now is to just walk up the hills and run the flats and downhill, which means I’m going to be walking a majority of the first five miles, but I’ll be running the majority of the second because it will be mostly downhill. So we’ll see how this goes.
It’s definitely not a normal race, but it’s a virtual. It gives me a chance to just play around with my running and have some fun with it, and I wanted to have fun and experience it because I was all by myself, not running with anyone. That’s where I’m at. 5k it is!
Can you hear my breathing? It’s pretty hard! I am at the 10k point, so I’ve gone about 6.2 miles, and I am thinking, “How am I going to get through this?” But, we’ll find a way, right? I’m a mental training coach, I gotta figure it out. I gotta stay mentally tough.
I had about a little over a mile of complete downhill, that was fun! I got about a 10-minute pace in that, but some of my paces going uphill are like a 24-minute pace! Holy, moly, the hills are no joke!
So I’m at about an hour and thirty minutes and at about 6.2 miles, so my pace right now is at a 15:13 because I’m going uphill for quite a while, probably a mile and a half, and then I’ll break off and hopefully get some downhill action where I will be able to run a little more.
Feeling okay, my legs are feeling pretty good. My lungs are on fire when I’m going uphill, but other than that, we’re staying strong. I’m going to get through this. I’m going to get to 26.2 no matter how long it takes.
EAGLE’S CLIFF OVERLOOK
All right, I’m on top of Eagle’s Cliff Overlook and took a little break because I wanted to see the view. Totally worth climbing really high! Holy moly, look at that! And this is why I chose to do the virtual here. Look at those views! I can’t get enough of them!
So I’m almost to the 8-mile mark … well, actually, not really. I’m almost to seven and a half. I’m almost to two hours, and what’s interesting about that is that normally on race day, it takes me about an hour to run 8 miles, so I’m really, really not on pace, which is fine. Like I said, I’m just here to enjoy it, take it all in, and thankfully the 6-hour mark was taken off of the Boston Virtual because I’m not sure I’m going to get done in 6 hours, we’ll see! But I’m enjoying it, it’s good! We’ll see what happens.
HALFWAY POINT, 13.1 MILES
I kind of missed my 13.1. I’m at like 13.57, but that’s okay! I found some friends, family. They were on a scavenger hunt while I’ve been running, so I tried to meet up with them at about 12 miles when I went back to the campsite and found out they weren’t there, but I changed into shorts and a tank and realized that my left foot is really bloody, so that was good. Changed my socks, but I am making it.
My right groin hurts. My left foot hurts, but I think I’ll make it. I’m doing a lot of walking. I am at a 14:49 pace, so I’m at like 3 hours and 20 minutes. I would have been done with a marathon by now usually, and I am only halfway, so, we’re just enjoying the experience. And now I got family. We are going to go hiking I think for a few miles to help encourage me as I go!
18 MILE CHECKPOINT
Man, I am at 18 miles, average pace now is at 15:12. I think I’m walking quite a bit more than I am running, and my ankle hurts quite a bit. I’m not sure it was ready for a marathon, which is kind of why I wanted to take it easy. I’m not sure the hills are easy, but I’m feeling it. I feel it in my left heel as well. I’ve been overcompensating with the left leg as I’m trying to get this right leg in order.
I’m at 4:34 minutes. This is going to be the longest marathon I’ve ever run. It’s okay though.I am on a short stint by myself, and then I’m going to go back and get my family, and we’re going to take a long hike, so I might be walking a lot of that hike. I’m hoping to run downhill at the end, but we’ll see how I’m feeling. Anything could happen, right?
Sometimes I think part of being mentally strong is being willing to slow down and being willing to listen to your body. When your body tells you it’s not ready for an all-out race pace, maybe that means that this race is just supposed to be for enjoyment, right? Or maybe you’re just going to change that pace. It’s okay to do that! That doesn’t mean you’re not mentally strong. It means that you’re listening.
Now, I think that you still need to push yourself in some way. If you don’t think that you can hit that race pace, you’re going to push yourself in a different way. Like today, I’m not sure I should have ran 26 miles to be honest. I haven’t trained for it. But, I know I can do it, especially since I’m adding a lot of walking, so I’m going to push myself to finish because I know what it’s going to feel like to get there.
It’s not going to hurt my ankle any, it’s not going to hurt my heel any, and I will make sure to take recovery time. That’s what’s important. It’s important for us to take that time afterward to refuel, recovery, and then get going again. So, I’ll check in again at 22, but I’m around 18, and we’re doing okay.
22 MILE CHECKPOINT
I’ve hit the 22-mile mark. We are going all uphill. We are doing this trail that I did the first time when I realized I was going to have to change my plan and do running down and flat and walking up, so I brought my family this time. They are enjoying it. We are almost to the outlook, which is really, really beautiful, which you already saw those pictures.
I’m at 6:07 hours. Uf-tah! I’m ready to be done. My ankle is swelling. It’s starting to feel a little bit hard … okay, a lot-a-bit hard, but I’m going to keep doing it because I’m almost there. I have four miles left, and two of those, actually three of those will be downhill on the way back, and I am going to try and run the downhill. It will be a slow run, but I’m going to do it, and I think Micah is gonna run it with me, so we will see!
IT’S DONE!!! Oh my goodness, that was the longest day, but I have to say, great scenery, great company. I had a good time. I’m fried. I’m not sure I’m going to do another one anytime soon. Actually, I probably am. Hopefully Boston 2021. That will be my next marathon if I get to run that. But we climbed all the way up the steep, steep hill, the mountain, up to the outlook.
The outlook was so beautiful, and then my middle one decided he was going to run down with me, so we did the last 3.5 miles downhill, and we ran quite a bit of it! I mean, super slow, but I did have a little gas in me still. I still had a little energy, okay not really, but a little, and I even got a tiny sprint for the last tenth of a mile.
So, there you have it. This was my first official trail run. Probably not the smartest to do that as my marathon, but it was worth it. It was so fun just to experience it. I am going to go lay down on our air mattress. We are headed back to our campsite, and I think it’s going to be an easy afternoon. It was a long day.
I’ll tell you my stats soon. My watch was about to die so I had to save it really quick so I could get it all in. My phone made it. My watch made it. We’re good to go.
I am on the air mattress. I am laying down, but I wanted to give you my stats. So … 26.2 miles. I made it! Boston Virtual, done. Can I wear the jacket? Yes. Will I get a medal? Yes. Not as cool as running it in Boston? True.
So … holy moly, it took me 7 hours, 17 minutes, and 55 seconds. That is more than twice as long as my average marathon! But that’s okay. So that’s a 16:43 average. So glad that they don’t have a stipulation on the 6 hours. Now, if they did, I would have run it somewhere else.
I ran it in Staunton State Park, a really beautiful park just outside of Denver. Lots of gorgeous views, but it does get to an elevation of 10,000 feet, which I am totally not used to. But that’s okay! It was worth the experience. A really good hiking trail.
A fun little run trail, and, you know, I’d do it again. Not today. I’m going to go take a nap!
Well … I finished! I finished the 26.2. It has been almost two years since I’ve run 26.2 miles, which means I am proud of what I did, even though it was my longest marathon ever and probably the longest I will ever do. It was actually one of my favorites because I did something hard, I did something new, and I finished.
Now I get to wear the jacket. This is the jacket that has been hanging in my closet since January of 2019. It has been something that I’ve looked at and been working toward, and I feel proud being able to wear it.
So now I wait for news of registration to open for the 2021 Boston Marathon, which, my fingers and toes are crossed, that will happen because I think that will be the true victory run. I think that actually being there at the start in Hopkinton is what makes the Boston Marathon truly, truly special.
Now, this run was many, many things. It was one of my longest, one of my toughness, the most elevation gain, the one that I wasn’t trained for. My ankle was still hurting.
This run was proof to me that I could run the miles.
It’s been a long time since I’ve run them. I started doubting myself post injury if I would ever be able to get up to the marathon miles again because I was struggling.
Like I said, in training, I was struggling to get over 10 miles, and a part of that was hindering me from thinking, “Well, maybe I just shouldn’t be running a marathon. Maybe I should be looking at other distances or other things to do,” which is something I’m going to do eventually, but I wanted to prove to myself that this was something I could do, that I could get there in miles again.
This run was proof to me that I’m not broken.
My ankle actually held up, even though it was sore, and I tripped a few times times. It became super inflamed, and it is still sore today, but it isn’t broken any more. I’m not broken. Our bones heal. We heal.
Standing at the top of Eagle’s Outlook, you saw some pictures, just the beautiful, majestic views, I had to stop and take it all in because I had to thank God for the beauty of His creation. It was a moment of serenity, and it was breathtaking. I paused and just thanked God for the ability to run and have this passion that I can use to glorify Him. That’s what I do it for. I don’t do these things for me. I do it because it’s a gift that I was given that I could use to influence others.
This run was proof to me that my kids are watching me.
Now, I talked about this in the beginning, that we are our kids’ best examples, but it was proof to me of that. My favorite part of the whole run was the end because the last seven miles my boys all went on a hike with me. We hiked up that 3.5 miles that I did in the beginning of the run, which was really hard at the end.
My middle child and I kind of ditched the others, and we ran down the last 3.5 miles together, and that was really cool. He made it the whole way, and he was really excited about it. I thought that was really special. They cheered me on. They encouraged me. They picked me up when I wanted to quit because there were many times that I was having negative self-talk saying that I didn’t really know if I could do this because I was in pain so many times.
But, you know, that’s what community does. When we surround ourselves with encouragers or people who are supportive and are going after their own goals. When we surround ourselves with a community like that, it’s really hard to quit on ourselves, and that’s what my family did for me the last seven miles, and I don’t know if I could have made it without them.
All right, and as promised, I want to tell you about the next journey that I want to take you on.
What I really want to do is take you on a journey from the start to the finish of a massive goal because I think it will be good insight for you as you are going after your own goals to see what the process is like in planning and doing and being in the action mode, adjusting, and finding ways to work that goal.
First and foremost, my goal is to run the Boston Marathon in 2021. I am pretty sure I’ll get in as long as it happens. I have a 12-minute buffer, so I should be okay, but that’s my goal. I don’t really have a pace goal for it. I would like to get it in under 4 hours just to kind of get that speed back up and get into a good endurance and get ready to train.
After that, I want to take you on a goal of a personal record that I want to have for a marathon. My best marathon was a 3:18, and my next goal is to hit a 3:10, which seems uber impossible, especially after breaking my ankle and running a 7:17 marathon. So many doubts can come, but i have to say I was uplifted just knowing I finished this last one, knowing I can do it again. We can always just do it again.
I want to take you behind the scenes. I want you to see the planning that goes into it, my training, the ups and downs because I know there will be lots of them. I know there will be some training that I nail, I’ll have some training that is really, really bad. I’ll give you insights and tips in goal-setting itself, some hacks, and all the good things.
You will see me fail many, many times. I’m going to be real with you on this journey. I’m going to show you what I’m doing and how it’s going. I’m going to tell you my tough days. I’m not going to Pollyanna anything. I’m going to be real and share exactly where I’m at. And here’s why. Because I want you to know that your goals matter too.
God gave me the gift of running, so I choose to use it. I use it to inspire others and to bring Him glory. He teaches me so much through it. I learn so many life lessons through my running, and I have learned that I am only capable because He is working through me, and if I let Him work through me, then He will use me.
Part of the goal-setting process is actually finding joy in the journey.
It’s not really about the summit. It’s not really about the finish, to be honest, because we are growing and changing to get there. If we can’t learn to enjoy where we are at and enjoy the present, then we will be missing out on a lot because all we’ll be looking at is the summit. We’ll be looking there and feel like, “Well, when I get there I’ll be happy. When I get there I’ll get this. When I get there these things will be better. It will magically be a perfect life.”
Well, it won’t. I’m going to be honest with you, once you get there, you’re not going to be satisfied. So you have to find contentment where you’re at, and that’s what I’m going to try and show as I go on my journey because I know it’s sometimes hard to find joy in the journey, but that’s what matters. Being present, finding what’s most important in your life and making sure it’s a priority. Yes, we have to sacrifice time or our money or our energy or our sleep for seasons as we’re going after our goals, but it shouldn’t be forever, it should be short seasons, and we need to learn to be present as we’re working toward the future.
So that’s my excitement, that’s my news for you. I can’t wait to be doing this with you. You’ll hear little tidbits here and there, but the journey won’t really completely start until after Boston 2021 when I start training to hit a PR, but you’ll hear little tidbits here and there because I will need to start working on speed because I am not fast at the moment, and that’s okay. We are where we are, and that’s okay!
So if you want to connect further, if you want to follow this journey, head on over to Instagram and follow me @redhotmindset. I would love to see you there, I’m very connected there. DM me if you want to let me know what you got out of this episode or what you’d like to see in future episodes.
If you’re excited about your own journey, I’d love to hear what that journey is and what your next goal is.
I want to be a cheerleader for you. I want to be an encourager for you, and I want to help hold you accountable to do what it is you really deeply feel like you’re meant to do.
With that, that’s all I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you got to see the insights of even a mental training coach because as a coach sometimes I feel like I have to be perfect all the time. But you don’t. We struggle just as much as a normal person because that’s all I am, a normal person. I struggle with mindset every day. I have to make a choice to be mentally tough every day. I want to encourage you in that. You are not alone. It is a choice we get to choose every day what our attitude is going to be and what we are going to go after.
Dream huge, and, remember, you are a winner. Just run YOUR race! I believe in you!
Step into the fire and come out stronger!
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