Sunday, May 1, 2011

Not His Day

They always say, “you never know what will happen on marathon day.” It is a long ass slug to the finish, and the journey between mile one and mile 26.2 is a total stinking crap shoot.

Sometimes you surprise yourself and have the race of your life. You fall into your zone early, your legs remain fresh, your head is on straight and keeps sending you the right messages. You reach your time goal with minutes to spare. You are victorious. On top of the world.

And, sometimes, there are those races where you fuel well, dress right, and train smart, but the unexpected occurs. Your hamstring seizes up at mile 15 or your calf tears. You can’t stop taking dumps along the side of the road. You shuffle your way for the last eleven miles, each slow step a reminder that your goal is fading further and further out of reach. Your heart drops, your spirit drags. All of that training  - for this?

Today Ken had one of those days, the disappointing kind.

After getting a 1:42 PR at the Denver Half Marathon in October, he set his sites on his first full. He trained consistently, smartly and tirelessly. He cross trained, he fueled well. He is one of the most disciplined people I know. He had a heaping plate of chicken pasta last night and one beer. He settled into bed by 9pm, excited and hopeful.

When I went to meet him at mile 17 this morning and he wasn’t there, I just assumed I must have missed him. I heard that some kids had crashed a car into a tree along the course during the race, and I worried.

Later, a friend finished the race and told me she had passed Ken who was walking with ice on his hip. He has never once had hip problems before. He had tried to keep running, but it was difficult. That was mile 17 with 9 stinking miles to go.

I waited. I worried. Where was he?

Just then, I saw him and ran with him the last bit before the finish.

kenmarathonfinish

He shrugged his shoulders and said, “It just wasn’t my day.” My heart sank.

It’s not about your time so much as it is about running the race in a way that you feel good about. A way that makes you proud. It just plain sucks to get hurt and to hobble your way to the finish.

And, when you love someone you take on every bit of frustration, sadness and pain as if it were your own. That’s how love works.

kenmarathonfinish2

That said, there are two choices. Two possible attitudes moving forward:

I failed. Why bother? Screw it. I put in all that training and for what? It’s just not worth it. I’m not meant to run marathons. I won’t try that again.

OR

This was a challenge. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. My body didn’t like 17 miles of downhill and it seized up on me. But, this is only the beginning. There is always another race.  This disappointment will not be my only memory of what a marathon is. It will not define me as a runner. I’ll create a new memory on a different race day. It is mine for the taking and the only people who fail are those who fail to try.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and don’t look back. YOU FINISHED A DAMN MARATHON!!!!!!!!!

Emma and Sam know their dad finished a marathon and are proud of him for it. They couldn’t give a crap what the clock said.

kenmomemmafinish

And then there’s this girl, my friend Joie, who found success today and took 18 minutes off her last marathon time.

joiemarathonfinish

She knows where her priorities are:

P1090724

And lastly, you want motivation? Check out this woman along the course today. 63 years old. Her time? 3:36. That’s what I’m talking about. Go grandma. NICE RACK!

bikini

Ever have a really disappointing race?

Tomorrow is a new day. Never.give.up.

SUAR

95 comments:

  1. Thanks for this. I just registered for my FIRST marathon today and this makes me feel okay if I just don't have a good day when it comes around.

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  2. I had a super disappointing race today. Timely post.

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  3. You don't know how much this post means to me. I was supposed to run in the half marathon today for the same race, but two weeks ago I found out I was pregnant. Still planning on running (because I trained, dammit!), I caught a nasty cold two days before the race. Coupled with serious morning sickness and a lack of sleep, I decided at 4:00 this morning to not race. It SUCKS, and I feel so defeated, but you are absolutely spot on - it's a challenge, and I will take this as a challenge to get better and run in the Colfax Half in two weeks!

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  4. Heck yes I have, and I have also been there for one of Mark's bad days... which hurt me worse than my own!

    Congratulations to Ken. I'm sorry that it wasn;t his day, but he'll have another shot and the redemption will make it all worthwhile. Hope he recovers well!

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  5. Aww..I'm so sorry Ken's race didn't go as well as he would have hoped. But, he finished his first marathon! THAT IS AWESOME!
    I have had disappointed races. But, like you said, you can either say screw it, or use it as a learning experience. I chose to learn from it.

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  6. congrats to ken. bummer that his race wasn't as planned but, and i know this from experience, finishing a race means SO MUCH!

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  7. So true--when someone else suffers, especially during a race--it feels like your own pain!
    I hope with all my being that I am as awesome when I am 63 as that woman is. Heck, I hope I get a 3:36 in my marathon in November!
    :)

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  8. Yes and I did let it define who I was as a runner for about 3 weeks. Then I said screw it and I am in a better place now. :o)

    Way to go Ken! Awesome you pulled through!! You should feel so proud of yourself.

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  9. That 63-year-old woman is quite awesome!
    Your Ken is awesome too - finishing the race despite knowing that you are already disappointed is a big mental achievement.
    I'm sure your two kids are very proud of their dad, and of course, their mom!

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  10. I had not one, but 2 marathons where it was just 'not my day"! Denver 2007, stress fractured foot. I limped the last several miles, ducking into porta potties to avoid the rain! Colfax 2008, it band issues that made me want to quit at mile 17. I walked the last 9. My son and husband thought for sure I was dead. This year, I will try Denver again. it is either, 3rd times a charm or 3 strikes and I am out of the fulls. At least he finished! Good for him, hopefully marathon # 2 will be "his day".

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  11. Finishing a race like that is,in many ways, a bigger accomplishment that finishing one where you feel strong and are loving the run. Congratulations to Ken. And I will be bookmarking this post to reread on my road to my first marathon this fall.

    And grandma is rocking my world!

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  12. I've had a couple of those but thankfully, today wasn't that day! I got my BQ in Eugene with time to spare. My heart breaks for Ken but I mow he has a great support system! He'll get it!

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  13. What a great example he is to your girls! Life is not always kind, but he stuck with it and didn't give up. I love your words of encouragement. I have had two tough marathons and have been reluctant to try again. You inspire me to go get my goal! Thanks for sharing your life!

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  14. My husband (Ken) and I just ran a 5:43:46 yesterday. Not our first marathon and not our last, but by FAR our slowest. we ran it hand in hand and when one of us hit the wall, the other supported them. And we finished. Our medal looked the same as the guy who came in first. We had fun... and we are FINISHERS! Congrats Ken on a run well done! (btw... lots of 70 year olds passed us!)

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  15. A big congrats to Ken. He's a marathoner! And it definitely sucks that is wasnt as smooth as he hopes, but he will have another shot, and he will rock it that much harder after this experience.

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  16. Congrats to your hubs! He's officially a marathoner and no matter the time or how it looked, he got to the finish. A full marathon is just as much a mental challenge as it is physical and he stuck with it today!!

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  17. Congrats to Ken for finishing his first marathon! I'm registered for my first in July and I'm super nervous about it, but this post helped settle me down a tad. I know for my first it's all about the finish - not the time! The accomplishment speaks volumes for your dedication no matter what!

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  18. My first marathon. Stomach issues. By mile 18 and 11 bathroom stops, I ended up waddling to the finish an hour after my goal time. But, I picked myself up, signed up for another marathon and cut off 45 minutes. Then went on to compete in an ultra with no time goals - just for the pure pleasure of running.
    Congrats to Ken and to you for keeping a positive attitude!

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  19. That's a great post Beth. It puts this little thing called "running" right in it's place. It's part of our lives, but it doesn't define our lives! I was thinking of all my cyber friends running their events today as I was running mine and it really helped to get me through. Knowing that they we were going through it together even though we were miles apart was a really nice feeling! Thanks again, Mac

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  20. WOW.. This post was Truly Inspiring.... I loved it. Congrats to Ken, Joie and Grandma! All of them are truly amazing stories. Stories like these are the reason I run... Thank you!!

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  21. After my shitty marathon training experience back last fall (injured--IT band and knee bursitis but pushed through the pain anyway with serious doubts that I would be able to finish within the 5:30 cutoff time), I said, "NEVER AGAIN!"

    Don't tell anybody but lately I've been reconsidering...

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  22. My first marathon I had all sorts of high hopes. i had had a great half marathon, totally trained, did everything I was supposed to do and then at mile 15 I fell apart....but you know what, I am signed up for Chicago now and excited to start training:) Congratulations Ken! Can't wait to read about your next training.

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  23. I'm new to your blog, and I freakin love it now because of this post! I had one of those days (the bad kind) at the Boston Marathon a few weeks ago. I could totally and completely relate to what you were saying. You took the words right out of my brain. I trained like never before, was in the best shape of my life, did all the little tiny details, and finished the marathon 30 minutes slower than planned. I felt awful and nauseous as all get out after about 15 miles. It's nice to know that it happens to everyone, and I LOVE the positive outlook you have on it!!!

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  24. Congrats to Ken for logging a marathon in the books! That's huge!

    I think we all have those "not my day" races. Mine was my last race, a half marathon. It wasn't the tough hills on the course or my time that made it "not my day, it was actually needing a restroom and there weren't ANY for 5 miles. This actually made me sick and I'm still recovering -- and that was 2 weeks ago. I want a redo.

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  25. Why is that woman wearing a bikini top?!

    WTH?!

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  26. Congratulations to your wonderful hubby! He joins an elite group of people - a group I aspire to be a part of one day. I know it wasn't what he expected, but I hope he will celebrate in the victory!

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  27. Congratulations Ken!! What a beautiful picture of your family! I have had "those days" and like you said it definitely does not define us.

    I love the pic of that woman running in her pink bikini top- why the hell not wear it?? Congrats to her too!!

    Love it!

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  28. I've had more bad days than good & I can say that the good days more than make up for the bad days. Tell ken to pat himself on the back and keep up the kick ass work!

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  29. Great post! Love the blog I will be back

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  30. Runners are always gonna have a bad day and we just hope that it isn't race day but the best thing is that he completed a marathon and he can brag about that! It doesn't matter what his time was! Congrats to your husband!

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  31. Yay Ken! That's so great, he will have a better time next time around. The most disappointing race I have ever done was a little tiny 5K. The temperature was over 90 degrees at start time. It was so hot and humid. Miserable. Everyone has bad days, no matter the distance. You are totally right, its more important to keep your head up and keep trying.

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  32. Great job Ken!
    We all have days that aren't good. And I agree that the amazing thing is just to finish and get through it. It just gives us more motivation to sign up for another race!

    Great job finishing!

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  33. I'm getting ready to run my first race in a less than 8 weeks, and I will definitely be keeping this post in mind. :)

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  34. Sorry Ken, but awesome job! I just ran Big Sur this morning. Not the time I wanted. At mile 13, I had a boston qualifying time, but died at the end. It took me 33 minutes to run the last 2.5 miles! Now I feel great. What the heck happened? Shit happens! Nothing was wrong with me, I just felt like I had lead legs. It's not the about the time, it's about the experience... Ken chose to run rather than sit on his ass... that's amazing, that's what life is about... no one cares about the time... freaking Grama is running faster than me and I'm only 33... very motivating!

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  35. Great post Beth. I'm so sorry it wasn't Ken's day, but to say "I ran and completed a marathon" are words few get to utter, like you said. Great pictures of you and him!! Emma and Sam must be proud!!!

    Whoa, g-ma?!! If you got it at 63, flaunt it!

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  36. Ken, you rock! You know what a crap run is like now so you'll truly appreciate all the good ones from here on out. Most of all, you know you can ENDURE. Not to change the subject, but why does Joie have a SUAR tee whilst the rest of us wait patiently to purchase one?

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  37. I hate to hear that Ken had a bad first full, but I hope it makes his next all that much better.

    Go Granny Go!!!! (She would have beat me for sure!)

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  38. Congrats Ken! Good job on finishing even though you were having a tough time.

    I had a crappy half last Nov, pulled my calf and could barely walk, but the next race was great in March. You just gotta put the bad ones behind you.

    Hope I'm still running at 63, though there's no way I'll ever be that fast!

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  39. It would have been so much easier for Ken to have pulled the pin and DNFed. But no, he acted like a true champion - a real runner - and sucked it up and got the job done. Congratulations Ken. Be proud of yourself.

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  40. Still licking my wounds from my full today. I'll come back and read the whole post later and I'm sure I'll get more out of it then... My husband's trying to convince me that I should be proud of finishing, but I'm just not ready to hear it yet.

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  41. congrats to ken! finishing is so worth it, no matter what. :)

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  42. Look at granny go! She ran faster than I did when I was ... faster than I am now :P

    Ken! Sorry it was not the day for you :( There WILL be others, I am sure. And you DID it! You FINISHED! Congrats on completing your first marathon :)

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  43. go ken. and go grandma. shit.

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  44. Congratulations Ken! I don't think the Marathon is ever quite what you expect. You do what you can (training, preparations) but ultimately some of it is how the day goes. It's a recognition that we are not in control of the world, and that environmental factors play a part in how we perform. Great job!

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  45. Go Grandma!.... An effin' 3:36 marathon..... WTF?...... Damn!!!!!

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  46. Congrats to your husband for finishing!!!!!

    Hope the hip heels quickly. That grandma's a hoot...don't her tots hurt to run without a sportsbra???

    runningtobeskinny.com

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  47. an excellent story of strength and perserverance, thank you for sharing.

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  48. Congratulations on your marathon Ken! Beth-thank you again for your blog with tips for my first marathon. I finished it yesterday and am so proud of myself. I ran a great first half, which I think set me back some for my second half. You can appreciate this one, I really wanted to finish in under 6 hours about mile 17 I stopped to use the bathroom, there was a lady in it....I waited because there were only bathrooms every 3 miles probably. Needless to say she had some issues and was in there at least a couple minutes after I stood there, finally she came out. I was in and out of there in probably less than a minute, when I finished the run my time....6:00:14 really....she couldn't have crapped 14 seconds faster? Oh well. THank you again for all or your tips I appreciated them. Oh and when can we order your shut up and run shirts?

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  49. I would say that both of my marathons I have run 'have not been my day.' Yet here I am training and getting ready to run my 3rd one. I haven't given up on having a good marathon experience and I will keep trying, even if this one doesn't go the way I want it to. Congrats to Ken on a job well done. He trained, he prepared, and he finished. He made his wife and children proud. I am proud of him. Probably everyone who follows this blog is proud of him... and you are so right... you just never know what race day (or any long run) will bring so you just go with it. (and that picture of the grandma, holy cow... totally amazing! 3:36??? Superb!!!)

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  50. Ken is quite a lucky man! What a support system! Congrats to him on his first marathon and all the hard work he put into it!! Congrats to him on a great attitude.

    Disappointing race...I bombed a half marathon a month after Boston last year. My stomach went wacko on me and I mentally collapsed as a result. I broke my hip a couple of days later after trying to make up for that race I think....Very disappointing but Never.Give.Up is right. Better now than I was then:)

    Granny kickin' a 3:36. Woohoo!!!

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  51. For a second I thought that was EMZ, but then realized, no arm warmers.

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  52. Courage to Persevere!! Sorry it didn't go as well and he hoped, BUT he finished a Marathon!!! Now its lessons learned and the next one will be so much better!

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  53. Kovas! Too funny.

    Congrats to Ken for grinning and bearing it. He finished and that's awesome!

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  54. Seriously?!?! Why the heck did Grandma not have SUAR gear on? I saw two completely capable locations for some letters!!!!

    Hey, he finished, that is more than most people can say right? I know the feeling though, probably take me a week of cussing myself out to get over it though.

    Great job regardless of time :)

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  55. Never did a marathon, but last year I fell apart after a mile on the Bolder Boulder- a knee issue I hadn't had suddenly popped up and I could barely walk. I was really, really happy to finish at all. Ken is my hero for finishing this. Tell him he is freaking awesome for keeping at it.

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  56. Right on . . . clock SCHMOCK! He got out there and did something that most people never even attempt. The tougher days will make the victories, however one defines them, that much sweeter. Good for Ken for starting, persevering and finishing. Your kids are proud for very good reason!

    And go Grandma!!! I so want to be her when I grow up -- sports bra and all!

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  57. I think Ken did a great job. He made it to the start and made it to the finish. You are SO right - it doesn't matter what the clock says.
    It was his first marathon. The clock didn't matter. Next time, he sets 3 goals and achieves ultimate success! WAY TO GO KEN!

    As for grandma... good running! My dad decided to start running and he's 86. Some people have endless energy. :)

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  58. I am sorry it wasn't his day. Disappointment sucks.

    I haven't had a terrible race. YET. I have a feeling that flat tire is just arond the corner.

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  59. Congrats to Ken on his marathon!!

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  60. Well done, Ken...the sucky days take the most heart.

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  61. I just had a really disappointing race! I think it means that the next GOOD race will be all the better. Plus - just doing a marathon and giving it what you've got is awesome!
    That older fast lady is amazing. She also looks like she'd be fun to hang out with haha.

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  62. Congrats to Ken whether it was his day or not he still finished a marathon and that is an accomplishment worth celebrating no matter what the clock says.

    Love me some grandma! I hope that's me when I'm her age... only I'll wear a shirt for everyone's sake.

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  63. Congratulations to Ken! It's disappointing that it wasn't his day. Finishing a marathon on that kind of a day takes grit.

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  64. Good job Ken! Just as training runs go, some days are good and others are tough, but he was out there and finished. He is also smiling at the end, which is GREAT!

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  65. Great post! Congrats to Ken! Sorry it wasn't "his day" but proud of him for gutting it out and finishing. Hope he isn't seriously hurt!

    I love the picture of Grandma! Made my day. I hope to be out there running marathons when I'm her age and beyond!! Not sure I'll be in a bikini top, but hey.. more power to her!!!

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  66. I've never had a GOOD marathon. What was the worst: the one where I hit the wall at 8 miles? the one where I got a stress fracture at 14? the one where I had diarrhea? the one where I got hit by a bike? the one where I stopped at 17 to pick flowers? Actually, that last one wasn't too bad.

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  67. Congrats Ken! You're a marathoner!! You trained hard and you did it; even if it didn't feel like you ran the best race. You finished it.

    Excellent post as usual. Love reading a running blog that gets it right on so many levels. It's not always about the high of personal records. There's a lot of other not so pretty crap that we trudge through to get those PR's.

    Absolutely ADORE running Grandma. And OMG, I would kill for that time.

    S

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  68. Congratulations to Ken. Sorry it was not the race he wanted to run. But there's always another marathon. That's what I told myself when my first marathon was a bit of a disappointment. Although, now a year and a half later, I have yet to get to the starting line of another marathon due to injury after injury. But I'm not giving up, even if it takes me until I'm 63 to run another marathon, I will! Maybe I'll even wear my bikini top...

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  69. Congrats Ken!
    Awesome grandma, but bikini tops are for the beach!

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  70. Congrats to Ken for finishing and pushing through!! Hopefully the ice-on-the-hip running doesn't mean another hip-injury for the household? Fingers crossed the racer is recovering well!

    Was this the Ft Collins marathon? I've heard how long that course goes downhill - everyone frames it as "so easy!" because of that, but I've run a downhill half before and can attest that those miles are anything BUT easy! It's so much harder on the body to deal with that impact, and really made it difficult to find a pace (for me...anyone else?). Anyway, hopefully he has the next challenge in mind, whatever it may be!

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  71. My main man Ken --- finishing his first marathon. How awesome!!!!! F that ice on the hip thing because you now know what it takes and you will bring that with you to tomorrow's marathon. Crazy respect for you in finishing that marathon.

    Hello Grandma....rocked it. I am loving that pic.

    And why are you in the StayPuft Marshmallow man suit and she is in a bikini top? Were you on different mountains in the Rockies?

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  72. Where is your friend's cute skirt from? How about reviewing some other running skirts? Your adorable one from Athleta is sold out in most sizes:(.....

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  73. Alison - her skirt is from Skirt Sports. I'd love to do more reviews...now if someone can just send me one to review, we'd be all set.

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  74. ken.
    you.
    freaking
    rock.

    seriously.

    That after photo is awesome.

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  75. Congrats to Ken and to Joie!!!
    Gosh I've had plenty of races like that.
    But as you said HE FINISHED!!! and that's what matters.

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  76. Thanks for the skirt info. Let's hope for your sake and mine (and your other readers') that someone sends you some skirts to review on the double!

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  77. Oh my gosh. We were at the race and saw the bikini top grandma come through and were blown away with her time. We also saw your friend come through and commented on her cute skirt. I want one!

    I know how Ken felt yesterday. I ran the 2009 Denver Marathon with a bladder infection and had to stop at every port-a-potty on the course. All my hopes and dreams were literally in the toilet. I'm going back this year to settle the score!

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  78. Oh my Gawd, absolutely. Sometimes the world is a crazy place and all we get to do is play along. Congrats to Ken on his first marathon, regardless. !!!

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  79. Congrats to Ken! I had an AWFUL marathon a few weeks back! It had me DOWN in the DUMPS. How did I get over it? I ran another marathon this past weekend! No reason to wait for another training cycle, make the best of the fitness you have! Especially if he did a fair amount of walking during the race (as I did) and his legs are holding up, find him a repeat race in a few weeks!!

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  80. I don't give a crap what the clock said either. Congrats to Ken. A marathon is 26.2 miles, no matter what the clock says at the end!

    And I heart your new spooning partner. I would comment on the other post, but I'm too lazy. So you get it here.

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  81. I was just wondering how Ken did today but never had time at work to check your blog. Darnit, it sucks - it just really does - but he has the absolute right attitude and I am super proud of him. Congratulations, Ken - you are a marathoner!!!

    And since Candice can comment on two posts, I will too and say I love your new bike, too. I have the exact same one in my living room :).

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  82. Yesterday I ran a mud run with a migraine! I had been up since 3:30 am for work, and did not stop until after the race when I got home and finally got to bed at 9:30 pm. I ran in the last wave of the 2 day race, I signed up last minute, and realized I hate running at the end of the day - the end of a long day. While I knew I would not PR in this 5K mud run, I was a little disappointed in the results when I looked online today - YET I told myself, I felt like crap during the race, but I managed to still have fun and finish the race :) I chose to have a good attitude about it. Next year though, I will sign up earlier and choose an earlier wave, and beat this years time for sure!!!! :)

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  83. Kudos to Ken for pulling through to the finish. I feel bad for him. Can you catch that hip thing from kissing...?

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  84. This post made me feel so much better. I had a terrible race today. It was my second marathon and just crumbled at mile 21. Bad, bad, bad. Came in 12 minutes over my goal. Reading your post was definitely uplifting.

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  85. Yes. I had a pretty crappy race yesterday. It just wasn't my day. It was bound to happen eventually. Now it's time to figure out the next race and conquer it.

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  86. What timing! I had the worst and best 1st marathon experience . . The usual--had been training strong and can "easily" do 20 miles in 3 hrs on a regular basis so I thought I could do 26.2 in 4 . . uh, everything stupid that could happen DID--I christened about 6 portapotties in the first 9 miles, my foot fell asleep at mile 15 for no apparent reason, my right calf turned against me at mile 21. Did I mention it was hot as hell?? However, despite realizing I wasn't going to make my goal I KNEW I could do it NEXT time and started plotting which races I'd register for (I chose Chickamauga Battlefield and Kiawah) and what I'd do differently, etc. The lesson in this was that I was NOT AT ALL DISCOURAGED because I knew my positive attitude was everything, and will get me to many more races where all the good things fall into place.
    Wonderful post. Wonderful timing!

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  87. Running a marathon is so hard, and when it's not your day, it just sucks. I hope his next one it is his day and he experiences the best feeling ever. But seriously, he ran 26.2 miles! Good for him!

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  88. I always said I would only run one marathon... I trained well, and the day came and my quad cramped bad from mile 15-26. Misery... I felt let down... but I had no choice but to sign up for another... looking forward to my re-match on June 5th.

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  89. I've had bad races, but one of my friends literally collapsed at mile 18 of the Chicago Marathon last year. It wasn't her first marathon, but the first one she properly trained for, but the heat got to her, and despite bringing salt pills and her own water, her legs cramped up, she fell in the middle of the course, dragged herself out using her arms, until someone reached for her and put her in the sidelines. After sitting for a long time (twenty minutes? Half an hour? she doesn't know) a police officer finally forced her to see the medics (she knew once she went into that tent her marathon would be over). She got hocked up to the IV, and felt awesome after it was over. The medics would not let her proceed and though she arrived to the finish line, she did so in an ambulance.

    She had her redeeming race 3 weeks later when I convinced her to run the Marine Corps Marathon (both of us were running under other people's name). We ran together, even though I'm much slower than she is, but my slow pace helped her feel confident, and we crossed the finish line together! It was still her fastest marathon, even though it was 45 minutes slower than her goal time!

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  90. And looking at H2O site, I would definitely take the shuffle unit! Nothing for swimming for the nano...

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  91. So I know this is late, but I just found your blog and wanted to pass along my fav quote for your husband. "Failure is not defeat until you stop trying." He rocked it!

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