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Race Report: Shamrock Marathon = BQ! (by EDGE Athlete Miana)

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Race Report: Shamrock Marathon = BQ! (by EDGE Athlete Miana)

March 19, 2017: Waking up to the sound of howling wind and pouring rain, I almost laughed. Yes, this is just as it should be. After last year’s slugfest on this course, I thought the conditions HAD to be better. This is the world reminding me to Let Go and to accept life as it unfolds, especially when it isn’t what I want.


I’m sure Robyn was wondering why in the hell she signed up for this particular BQ quest. Surely any of my other five attempts would have been more fun. Instead, we sipped coffee, chatted with our awesome cheer squad, prepped like two trail runners do for any long run, and pretended we weren’t heading out into 40F rain, wind and a Feels Like temperature of 27F.


The girls dropped us at the start line with quick hugs and positive words of encouragement and we tucked into the Hilton to savor our last few moments of warmth.


Robyn left the decision of whether to run solo to me and it wasn’t until we stepped out into that cold rain that I knew for sure: we’re in this together. We’ve been in it together for the last two years and we’re going to face this day, this challenge as a team, as coach and athlete, and most importantly, as friends.


The early strategy was to hang with the 3:35 pace group for the first 10K or as long as it felt easy. With the wind at our backs, these guys were rocking an 8:05 pace with great energy and the group quickly became a little hive – protecting each other from the elements and leaning on each other for support. Down south we went, across the bridge, into Camp Pendleton where the young patriots cheered us on in the pouring rain and we heard our favorite words of encouragement all day: “This ain’t nothing!”  Damn straight.


And then we turned North. Down the long straight stretch, across the bridge, up the boardwalk, and on and on for just over ten miles. Relentless Forward Progress. Heads-down, clustered together, our little group battled that wind.


I planned to approach the back half as a gratitude run, each mile dedicated to someone or something that had brought me to this point.


Mile 13: for my mother and step-father. Growing up as a preacher’s kid, my childhood activities were non-existent outside the church. And while they certainly weren’t encouraging, they allowed me to discover the beauty of running when I was fifteen years old. For that, I am forever grateful.


Mile 14: as we passed our rental house and barely managed a wave to my friends standing in the sleeting rain, cheering like maniacs with a Coke just in case we wanted a sip, I dedicated this mile to them and ALL the people in my life who support and love me… even when they think I’m crazy.


Mile 15: dedicated to October 2006. When something that could’ve broken me sent me running instead and gave me a life I never would have imagined.


Mile 16: for my first trailrunning friend, Joon Park. In 2013, I showed up to CARA’s marathon training group terrified. My head was full of doubt, afraid that I didn’t belong there, that I wasn’t strong enough or good enough… but he saw something in me I couldn’t even begin to understand. AND then he introduced me to:


Robyn Lalonde. Mile 17.  The group is now two minutes ahead; we are all alone.


Not only had my hands gone numb, they were also asleep. My arms were burning hot from the cold, and the rest of me was just soaked and freezing. I couldn’t access my nutrition and Robyn used her one working finger to feed me salt pills and to give me her slightly-less-wet gloves. Both of us in our little world of pain but somehow still managing to be present, to smell that beautiful wet pine, to appreciate the brief shelter from the wind. Neither of us said aloud what we were thinking – if our situation doesn’t change when we turn south, this day isn’t going to end well.


Around Mile 19, we stop in a feeble attempt to pull a handwarmer from my pack. After 30 seconds of fumbling, we walk over to a group of spectators, 3-4 pre-teen boys, and Robyn practically begs them to help us. “Just use your fingernail to open it!” It’s one of the first times I’d ever seen “Coach” Robyn show such human emotion and I almost cried because it made me so happy.


Mile 21 – The sandstorm trail adventure and Cape Henry lighthouse. Thank god we’re both in our Wildhorses today. That shoe will not quit. And this pair is a carry-over from Cloudsplitter, my first 100k. Seriously good luck charms.


From here, the wind is at our back hard. 30mph and gusting, it’s hard to even keep your balance. Robyn is on it and I look down to see 7:50 on my watch… all I can get out is “SLOW”. While the feeling in my fingers has begun to return, the rest of my body is beginning to suffer and I can barely keep up.


In all honesty, I can say the first 24 miles of this race I didn’t think of Boston. My mantra, Run The Mile You’re In, stuck with me throughout. I have never been more in the moment and more accepting of what each mile brought, of just putting in the work, focusing on the breath, and being grateful for the gift of running.


Miles 25-26.2

After a few curse words and lots of fidgeting, we threw off my Salomon. My lungs feel free and now I’m checking the watch, doing the math, and wondering how hard I can push. Robyn is pressing the pace, she’s found her voice again and the Coach in her is in full effect. We turn the corner onto the boardwalk and see the Finish Line in the distance. Without even knowing for sure, she’s screaming “Go get it! That’s your Boston! Go!” We cross, I hit my watch at 3:37:44 and then my knees hit the ground.


It isn’t until we’re in the medic tent that it registers. Over two years and many failed attempts later, this girl whose parents laughed when she said she wanted to run track, who isn’t naturally fast or talented, who looked at all those people in the striped jackets thinking “that could never be me” had just qualified for the Boston Marathon. A true testament that anything is possible. If you’re lucky enough to have people in your life who believe in you, you’re willing to put in the work, be patient and persevere, your dreams are out there waiting. Dreams you didn’t even dare to have.


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