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It is now a few hours after completing the 2017 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon so I decided to put down some thoughts.

I signed up back in October with the long term goal of easing back into marathon training but with injury and weather, my plans went a little awry. However, with the help of Coach Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias and my CrossFit training (#bradletes), I re-adjusted my 3 goals and met 2 of them. So thank you.

The race itself went according to my plan. I started at a good pace, the one I had originally hoped for but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to maintain it. My strategy was to run to the 16 mile mark and then switch over to walk/run for specific time intervals; which I did. I did managed to run all the way up the hill from the Birmingham Bridge into Oakland about which I was very pleased. There were support runners running up and back down the hill to help encourage us participants to make it to the top. Can’t imagine how many times they ran that hill. Ugh! God bless them.

That hill was one of the milestones in my head that I had to beat in order to be able to finish the run. As it went well, I ran through Oakland, Shadyside, Homewood etc with more confidence, knowing that if I stuck to my plan, I would finish.

The next milestone for me was the relay exchange at mile 22. I forget where it is located but I remember last year, when I ran the relay, watching the ‘full’ runners coming through there with their heads down and really struggling. I needed to run through there with my head high in order for me to make it.

I did. All was good with the world. Though I do have to admit, I was struggling just a little by then. Conscious thought: left foot, right foot, 1,2,3,4……. All the way to 100 and then start again.

I love the downhill finish into Pittsburgh. Knowing that there is considerable loss in elevation after the incline as we turn on to Liberty Ave is a great motivator to get up the hill. And let’s face it, by the time you get to that point, it is less distance to keep going than turning around and going back the way you just came.

The neighbourhoods did their thing and came out to cheer for us. It was cold but they stuck with it, even the little kids. Always tried to ‘high five’ them if I could. They get so excited, it makes me smile and smiling is good running therapy.

Homewood/N Braddock area was amazing. They were so full of energy and encouragement, it was impossible not to smile, wave to them, say thank you for turning out in the cold, offering their own water and chopped orange stations. Other areas did that too but the vibes that came from these people were wonderful. Thank you.

The other group I have to really give a ‘shout out’ too were the small group of supporters just before the 22 mile mark. They were offering chopped oranges but then things got real. They had popsicles. Such a good way to hydrate when the last thing you really want to do is drink. By that time, lifting one’s water bottle to one’s lips is quite an effort.

A few of ‘funnies’ that happened on the way.

The weather was such that when running with the wind and the sun was shining, it was really warm. So much so that I had to take off my long sleeved shirt. I had made it a T2 shirt by applying a car sticker to the front of it. So when I took it off, I tied it around my waist with the T2 sticker showing; runners coming up behind me could see it. I had just crested the Birmingham Bridge/Oakland hill when a girl (running the relay) ‘sprinted’ past me and commented, “A bit longer than a WOD but you can do it.” Again, made me smile.

A little further down the road I heard, “Hey, Jo” and a big smile from Libby Jones (one of our members) as she ran past me. Thanks Libby, I picked up my pace for a little bit.

One of my favourite running tunes is “Chariots of Fire” and blow me, as I ran down Highland towards Bryant, there it was playing full blast. And further down, I heard “Flash Gordon”(?) by Queen, another of my running songs.

I passed the 26mile marker and decided to look at my watch to see my elapsed time. I had, probably, just over half a mile to go, and my watch said 4:25: and some seconds. I was so close to my 2nd goal. Could I keep going to the finish? Running along Smithfield to the Boulevard of the Allies seemed to take an eternity. It just didn’t seem to get any closer until, boom, it was there. I turned the corner and there was the finish line. I tried so hard to push just that little bit harder. I crossed the line with 4:30 on the clock, which was all I wanted. Then I got emotional. But I always do. I walked down the finish chute, collected my finisher’s medal (what a weight), collected Dole fruit cups, a banana, a bottle of water and thanked as many volunteers as I could – many of them had been there since very early this morning.

I collected my bag of dry clothes, changed shoes (have two blisters) and then hit up Starbucks. Oh my goodness, coffee and banana nut bread (absolutely not Paleo) never tasted so good.

Caught the T back home – nearly got on the wrong train – and listened to a couple of guys complaining about how the marathon really wrecked their day because they had to take the T rather than drive into and out of town. Ho hum. It’s not like they didn’t get any warning.

And then Paul was there to give me a huge hug when I got out of the car. Thank you Paul for being patient with me by humoring me and my whims. Love you. Also got licked to death by Ebba and Bella.

I wasn’t fast enough to qualify for Boston but I hadn’t even thought about it until I got home. But that’s OK. Wasn’t a goal.

I had something to prove to myself with this race. I can still do it; maybe not as fast as I used to be able but I am a little older than I was back then. I don’t have to beat myself up by running countless miles just to run 26.2 miles. With my strength training, CrossFit training and cross-training along with limited running, I can do it.

And yes, I am wearing my Skins USA recovery tights! Feeling better already.

Thanks for reading. And I know it’s not really Boating with Dogs but we will be soon.

Joanna

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but fortunately not while we were running outside. Image Anna and Emily after 14.5 (1st WOD this morning).

Image Anna and Emily after Gold Medal WOD (2nd WOD this morning). I wish I had their powers of recovery.

On the way to the box this morning, traffic was slowing to a standstill on Rt 28 (one lane was closed off). We had almost come to a stop when BUMP, the car behind us made contact. Paul has had his car for 3 1/2 days. I didn’t get out but Paul checked and said that the car behind hit the tow hitch. Didn’t damage our car. Not sure what it did to the other one.

It has rained for most of the afternoon. I suddenly realized, it seems like ages since we had precipitation that wasn’t white and frozen. Made for quite a nice change. However, it will potentially change over to snow during the night and our drive up to the boat tomorrow could be rather messy.

The west coast of the US is having a really hard time at the moment. There was that horrible mud slide early this week and now in CA they have had an earthquake with numerous aftershocks. Hopefully that will be the end of it for a while.

The plane wreckage still hasn’t been located.

And finally, I was looking on the CFMTL web page today and noticed that one of the headers was “Fitness in 100 words”. Well, I decided to write my own definition for ‘CrossFitness’. (I apologize if my blogs are boring to non-crossfitters.)

CROSSFITNESS in less than 100 words

Cross training for everyday life
Register for a class or two
Or try a Community WOD
Stick to the plan
Strength will come
Friendships will be forged
I and we work together
Train hard, play hard
Negative thoughts are not allowed
Every single day is a new challenge
Suck it up
Success awaits you!  (54)

Joanna

Never doubt yourself

photo-4Firstly, thank you to everyone for their support today. And especially to Paul and Anna for coming down to cheer me on and to coach me. And to Brad for his strategising for me from afar.

I am quite excited about how today went. I didn’t win a medal, I didn’t place in the top 10, but I didn’t come last. And that was one of my goals. On the results, I am #601 (line 26). I finished 23rd overall (the results start on line 4). I was really quite impressed with my WOD 1 performance – 3rd.

It was quite interesting to watch the first 3 heats of the first WOD because most of the girls did what I had thought I would do, i.e. a mix of squats and sit-ups but after discussions, it was decided that I should just do air squats. And the strategy paid off. I have to admit, though, 5 1/2min of air squats rather messed with my legs. After catching my breath at the end, I stood up and almost fell over again. As I was walking back to my bags someone bumped me and Anna had to grab me to stop me from falling over.

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ImageA quick massage with the roller stick and then it was onto WOD 2. I just crapped out at the end. My shoulders went on strike. During both the air squats and the overhead squats, my squat depth was questionable but I listened to Anna and she kept me right. Managed all movements with no no-reps so no wasted energy. (That was another goal.)

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ImageLastly, the stones. The slam ball was manageable and so was the 70# stone. (My third goal for the day.) Had a couple of attempts at the 90# but I just couldn’t get it up to my shoulder. Got going with the double unders and was listening to the count down to the end of the minute time but listened to the wrong one so stopped about 5 sec too early. (There were overlapping count downs – one for the stones and one for the other WODs.) Lesson learned – keep going until the judge tells me to stop and not when I think I should stop. The other lesson learned, was that in future if I have a choice, I will be on the front mat so I can’t see any of the athletes.

So all in all a successful day.  I kept my open mind. I wasn’t intimidated by the competition. I learned what I can do and what I have to do. I did my best and gave it my all.

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Thanks again to everyone. Onward and upward.

And David ran 30 miles today and will run another 20 tomorrow. Crazy family.

Joanna

Never doubt yourself