Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Race Recap: The 119th Boston Marathon

BOSTON, Mass.-- After months of complaining about injuries, and suffering through long runs, and easy runs that were not fun, I finally completed the Boston Marathon.

I had never been to Boston before, let alone run the coveted race.  People had been telling me for weeks that the experience was unlike anything you can experience in racing and that certainly rang true.

We arrived on Saturday to get comfortable in our hotel and enjoy Boston before we had to really buckle down and think about race time.  Sunday morning we woke up and I was itching to get to that expo and see everything that had to do with the race.  We took the subway to Boston Commons and made our way to the expo center where you pick up your bib number, t shirt, and can purchase anything you can dream of in the world of running.

There were so many people weaving through the expo it became almost overwhelming.  We got to check out the start line of the race and I even made my husband Jimmy carry me over the start so I didn't have to walk across (In college I refused to cross the finish line of a cross country meet before I finished the race).

At the finish line of the 119th Boston Marathon
We went back to the hotel after the expo and sat around being lazy.  My buddy John who was also running insists that he runs best when he eats sushi the day before as opposed to pasta.  Something about the carbohydrates in rice break down faster than pasta and yadayadayada... I was a tad nervous to try this the day before the biggest race I have ever run but I threw caution to the wind and joined his sushi ways.

The next morning we woke up at 5:30 to get ready for the race.  I laid out my outfit the night before and got my nutrition packets stuck in my belt.  We got ready quickly and quietly as not to wake Johns girlfriend and my husband.  Once we were bundled up (it was only 38 degrees!) we made our way to the subway station to get a ride to Boston Commons.

race day wardrobe
When we arrived at Boston Commons it was already packed with people, and a line of buses parked along the road ready to take everyone to athletes village.  A small change had been made from previous years.  Gear check was at Boston Commons as opposed to athletes village, so anything you didn't want to throw away  or wear during the race had to be checked before getting on the bus.

There's some fine print I neglected to read.  I was wearing my new Boston hoodie, and my FAVORITE Nike pro long sleeve... I had to check it otherwise I was going to lose both when the race took off, because there was no way I could race in those things.

We got on to one of the buses and sat down, luckily they were heated because I already was very cold after stripping of my warmups and wearing only my shorts and singlet, and garbage bag.  The ride to athletes village is just over 26 miles away.  The race is a point to point, meaning we get dropped off 26.2 miles away and run back.

Athletes village is basically a giant field with a bunch of porta potties and tents with no walls that you sit at until your start.  My start was the 2nd wave of 5 or 6 and that was at 10:25.  It was 7:30 when we arrived... You can do the math on how long we had to sit outside with no warmups.

Garbage bag blankets at athletes village
Just when I was starting to get a tad emotional about the cold weather, and worried that there was no way I could start running and finish 26 miles, it finally was called that it was my turn to start.  We walked at least half a mile to the start line and with each step we took I was getting a little more excited.

Everyone told me at Boston the first mile is very downhill and to be careful to not go to fast, and not pump the breaks and engage your quads too much because you'll feel it later.  They were not wrong in this!  The first mile FLEW bye and was very down hill and even holding back as hard as I could I came through at a 7:20.

I knew that was way too fast especially since I hadn't got near the training in to hold a 7:20 pace so I backed down a bit and tried to hold on to a 7:30-7:40 average.  It became hard to not go faster because everyone around my was just flying (I mean these are the best of the best in marathon runners!) but I held the pace the best I could with a couple 7:20's creeping in on some down hills.

Each mile was more exciting than the last.  I have never seen so many people cheering and screaming at a race in my life.  The streets were lined with hundreds of people the entire way.  I don't recall every going through a mile without people lining both sides of the road.

My favorite mile was when we headed into Wellesley and we run by the all girls college.  It's a tradition to "kiss the girls of wellesley" and hundreds of ladies are outside on the roads holding signs that read, "Kiss me I'm...." with different sayings and slogans.  It was insane how many different girls with different signs lined the street.  I gave no kisses but I did pass out a bunch of high fives....

I made the climb up heart break hill and unintentionally slowed down, a lot, all the way to a 8:30 pace which took my over all time down a whole minute.  The only thing was, I didn't even realize I was running the well known hill until it was all over! 

Clearly the hill was hard enough to slow me down but honestly I expected harder after all the talk of "Heartbreak hill."  After I got through that I got my pace back to a 7:50 pace and held that through the finish.  Getting me a 3:23:18.  Just shy of a P.R.  (Current P.R. is 3:23:11)

Right after the finish in my "Boston" blanket!

I am very pleased with how I did in the race and I am so excited that I get to go back next year!  What's your "Boston"?  Any big races you completed or goals you recently accomplished? Comment below!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mrs Michigan America 2015

GRANDVILLE, Mich.-- As you have gathered I like to compete in pageants.  A chance to put on a pretty dress, and rant about my beliefs in politics, as well as spread awareness for women with differences in sexual development?  Yes I get a high from being able to do that, haha.

All jokes aside I haven't competed since getting married.  Mrs pageants are still a growing industry, typically beauty pageants are for teens and women 18-29, but married pageants have really started to take off.  One of the largest of those pageants is the, Mrs America pageant held in Arizona each year.

Every state hosts a state pageant to qualify to compete at Mrs America and I decided why not give it a whirl and see what it was like and I registered for the Mrs Michigan America Pageant.  I had no idea what to expect when starting the weekend off, would everyone be nice?  Was this going to be like those television shows on BRAVO! where all the ladies are crazy and mean and just trying to look younger than they are?

I'm happy to report it was not like those shows at all.  We arrived on Friday March 27th, at Grandville High School where we had an orientation/rehearsal.  There we learned what we would be doing all weekend long, as well as the stage layout, when we would be walking in each outfit, (swim, and evening wear) Where interviews were held, basically we learned everything we need to know to look the best we can on that stage.

I quickly learned that reading the bio's about each contestant is a must.... I of course did not do this, but everyone else greeted each other with a hug and a smile and lots of conversations about platforms, and work history and each others children.  I knew nothing because again I did next to no research on the ladies I would be hanging out with for the next 48 hours.

Day one was pretty uneventful, after rehearsal we get dolled up, and head into the ballroom at the host hotel for pictures and a dinner with our husbands.  We each received a program book, and a pair of earrings from one of the sponsors.  After dinner we headed back to our rooms to rest for the next day of competition.

That's how I roll at rehearsals

Waking up early is easy for me considering I work at 3:30 in the morning.  We got partially ready in our hotels and headed back to the auditorium at 8AM for rehearsals.  We practiced all morning long until lunch.  A limo picked us up and took us to PF Changs where lunch was all paid for.

PF Changs

Another thing I learned, eating a heavy lunch day of competition isn't a thing.... We all ordered food and I was one of the few who scarfed down my whole meal along with 2-3 sodas... (I was desperate for caffeine and I am a pop-addict)  The limo took us back to the auditorium where we got ready for the interview portion of the competition.

We got ready quickly and before I knew it was sitting opposite a panel of judges from all different backgrounds.  From professional photographers, to personal trainers, to a long time, investigative reporter the judges covered everything.  I was happy that they asked me about my infertility and I was able to speak openly about why it's so important we STOP telling youth that everything they go through in their sexual development is "normal" my firm belief is that it is not "normal" nothing about it is "normal"  and those who stray from what we are taught is "normal" (like me, being born with no ovaries or uterus) feel even more outcast.

 They all seemed very receptive, I even got to speak about my running, my scholarship to Ferris State and my upcoming Boston Marathon!  After interview time flew by and before I knew it was on stage competing in swim and evening wear.

Ladies were backstage helping each other get ready, curling each others hair, loaning each other makeup and hair spray.  Everyone helped everyone I can honestly say no one seemed to wish ill will on anyone!  Everyone seemed genuinely happy at the end of the pageant.

They narrowed us down to a top 5 which I was happy to be part of!  I was a little surprised to be called out of all these accomplished ladies, especially at my first Mrs pageant.  We each answered on stage question - mine was, "What is one law in the state of Michigan you would change?"  I answered honestly that I would change the ban on gay marriage with a little detail on why I think it should be changed.

The rest of the pageant went by so fast, from there they started awards and I was shocked to learn that I had earned, swim wear award winner, evening gown award winner, photogenic award winner, Internet Peoples Choice winner (thanks facebook!) and the best award, Miss Congeniality! 

After announcing those special awards they went on to announce the winners, 4th runner up... 3rd runner up, 2nd runner up... I was still standing up there!  It was down to two of us, after what felt like forever they announced I had received 1st runner up. 

To say I wasn't disappointed would be a lie, but I truly happy with how I did and I had a lot of fun all weekend, to quote my husband, "Man you don't even seem that pissed? Wanna go get applebees?"

So that sums up the weekend!  It was a fun time, I don't know how many more pageants I'll be doing but I am glad I did it, and got that experience.