After an 8-year hiatus from running marathons, I made my semi-triumphant return to the distance at the Twin Cities Marathon last year. As in, the end result was a new personal best time of 3:24:36, but I ran an average of 9:07 for the last five miles. I went out a little aggressive and ran 17 really quick miles, 4 mediocre miles, and 5 miles that were basically a train wreck. The good news was that my 17 really good miles were good enough to carry me to a new PR by 2:05.
Immediately following TCM, my eyes turned towards Fargo as a next potential race. I’ve done the half marathon 7 times (out of the 9 previous times it had been run), but have never actually done the Fargo full. The course is flat with the potential to be very fast. However, the weather for Fargo in May can be like playing Russian roulette. You might see a humid 75 degree day or a cold/windy 33 degree day. Two weeks at TCM, I finally broke through a major time barrier (sub-1:30 half marathon) that I had been flirting with for 10 years (I ran a 1:32 at the first ever half-marathon in Fargo in 2005). Feeling super motivated, I finally pulled the trigger and I registered in late October. I started training like a madman. I switched my habits from being a “night” runner (I’d go run 8-10 miles most nights when my wife/daughter went to bed) to doing a majority of my runs early (some as early as 4:15 AM on work days!) during the week along with sneaking 30 minute runs over my lunch break. My training was going better than ever until…
My calf started acting up while I was running on the treadmill. In a 60 minute run, my calf would kind of tightened up and locked up once or twice. The next few days, the frequency would increase. Eventually, it would get to the point where it would lock up 5 times in a mile. Having had very limited and pretty minor injuries given the amount of lifetime miles I’ve logged, this was my first time feeling something somewhat significant. I spent a significant time on Google and/or WebMD and determined that I had a calf strain (often referred to as a “calf heart attack”). Or it was possible that I had some sort of congenital calf disease that would eventually have to lead to amputation. Spending enough time on WebMD will do that to a person, though…
For four weeks in December, I ran a total of 3.3 total miles. Over the next six weeks, I spent around 30 hours hanging out on the elliptical (bleh!) and the exercise bike (double bleh!). Eventually, I worked my way back to running. I started running around 10 minutes miles and very gradually increased my speed and distance until I felt like I was pretty much back to normal by the end of January.
The injury cut a little bit into my planned training, but I was able to get back into the swing of things with plenty of time to get in a very solid training cycle. I have no doubt I’m more fit than last year. Since my last race in October, I’ve put in ~1,500 miles (in comparison, I put in 2,178 in all of 2013). I’ll have averaged 62 miles per week in the 12 weeks leading up to the race with a peak of 82 which is up slightly from my last marathon (60 mpw average with a peak of 70). In an ideal world, I would’ve ran a half marathon 2-4 weeks ago and I’d have a pretty accurate gauge of my fitness. It just didn’t work. Living in Minnesota, we’ve had a late spring. With a few weekends in April that were booked with various other things, the one local race that fit in the schedule being wildly overpriced, and tapering the last few weekends, I just couldn’t fit one in…
For TCM, I loosely followed the Hanson’s Training program with a few added miles in the long run and scattered throughout the week. This time around, I changed my training to loosely follow the Pfitz 70 program. While there are some similarities, the midweek “medium” long run was definitely the biggest difference in the two programs. In 2004, I followed the Pfitz program religious and dropped my PR from 3:57 to 3:26.
The other major difference is I’m carrying significantly less weight. While I was on a running sabbatical, my wife started using the MyFitnessPal app on her iPhone. One of her friends had used it successfully to lose weight. At the time, I didn’t necessarily want to lose weight, but rather focus more on eating healthier foods. For me, tracking calories has been a game changer. I’ve never done it before, but I’ve logged all of my food and exercise for the past four and a half months. I don’t know exactly what weight I was when I ran Twin Cities last year, but I’d estimate I’m anywhere somewhere around 15 to 20 pounds down from last October. I certainly have noticed the effect on my running. I just feel like my legs have more pop.
We went to bring my daughter Quinn to the kids race on Thursday night. It was her second year of running the half mile kids race. The weather looked hairy and we didn’t think we would be able to get her race in, but the rain held out. She had a blast and smiled the entire race! It’s fun to see her as excited about running as I am. I certainly wasn’t excited about running when I was a kid.
After the kid’s race, we headed to the expo. I didn’t purchase anything as I’m just not wild about paying “marathon expo” prices, but I took a walk around. The big advantage of going to the expo on Thursday is avoiding the madness of the crowds that come on Friday. I’d roughly estimate 80% of the ~19,000 race participants pick up their packets on Friday.
I didn’t change much in my diet pre-race. I try to make it a habit of not trying anything new coming up to race day. For the most part, the only changes was an increase in fluid the week of the race. The day before the race, I drank what I would call “quite a bit” of water and Gatorade. Based on my frequent stops in the bathroom to “de-hydrate,” I’m fairly sure I came into the race adequately hydrated. I ate exactly like I would nearly any Friday with the exception of making sure my meals were high in carbs (bagel for breakfast, pizza for lunch, pasta for supper). I also ate two energy bars at work during the day. That’s about it, though. I got all of my “race stuff” together (shoes, socks, shorts, singlet, race number, gels, GPS watch, headphones, FlipBelt, etc) laid out. I fell asleep watching a new Metallica movie “Through the Never” which was a hybrid of a concert film and an actual film at around 10:30 PM.
Around 3:30 AM, my over-hydrated state required a quick bathroom break. I went and laid down for an hour, but I never went to sleep. Had this been one of my earlier marathons, I’d had worked myself into a tizzy worrying. One of the advantages of being somewhat of a veteran is I know I’m still quite capable of running perfectly fine even if I wake up earlier than I wanted to.
Around 4:45 AM, I got up, took a shower, and got dressed. I made my normal breakfast (Liege waffle) that I eat about five days a week. Only thing I skipped was the whipped cream and berries. I watched some more of the Metallica movie which helped take my mind off of the upcoming race. Another thing I’ve learned is obsessing over details of the race only detracts from the end result. You can drive yourself crazy if you are worried about whether you should go run a 7:05, 7:10, or 7:15 in the first mile doesn’t make it any easier to run that time. It just burns valuable “mental” energy that you most surely will need in the latter half of this race.
Around 6 AM, my wife got up and gave me a ride to the Moorhead Center Mall which is located about 3 blocks away from the start. With three races starting at the same time, they had three different athlete’s villages to help alleviate some of the spacing and traffic concerns. I got there around 6:15 AM, quick went to the bathroom and found a nice bench to sit on for an hour. I just kind chilled out, listened to a podcast, and was surfing the internet on my phone. I also made sure to slowly down my last drink (raspberry Skratch Labs – highly recommend over any other sports drinks!) and half a ClifBar. At 7:15, I dropped off my bag and made my way to the starting line.
I got to the back of the starting line and it was already starting to get crowded. For a moment, I thought it was going to be impossible to get up closer to the front. With a little bit of wiggling, elbow, and a few “excuse me’s”, I was able to get right up near the front of the pack. It seemed a little strange to be this far up, but I knew my time from Twin Cities would’ve put me in the top 100 of last year’s race.
While I was starting at the start line, I saw a guy with the name Francesco on this bib and a 3:05 pace sign. I didn’t realize there was going to be a 3:05 pace group, so I thought I would just hang out near him and try to keep him in sight as long as possible. Popped a gel, finished off my last swallow of Skratch labs, and paid minimal attention to all of the last minute announcements. I was pretty pretty focused at this point.
Mile 1 – 7:08 – I didn’t really have an exact plan on how fast I wanted to go out. 7:03/mi was the average I was shooting for, but I was comfortable going a pace that felt really comfortable. I hung out near Francesco and his 3:05 sign for a majority of this mile (and realized there were another 30-40 people who were doing the same thing).
Mile 2 – 6:57 – Saw my family for the first time in this mile. I had quite the support crew cheering me on (enough that they actually needed two cars to transport everyone!) My mom and sister drove up from my hometown of Perham (about an hour away) that morning. My wife and her entire family (brother, sister-in-law, niece, and her parents) were there. And my daughter (almost 4 years old) was there on my brother-in-law’s shoulders to give high fives every time I saw them. It was fun to see her literally giddy as soon as she could see me.
Mile 3 – 6:57 – At the end of this mile is where the 10k turned off. There weren’t a ton of people that turned off, but then again, there weren’t a ton of people ahead of me, either. We started heading into a residential area of North Fargo. There were pockets of good fan support, but I was a little surprised by the rows and rows of houses with nobody out front. Sometimes, we’d run two blocks with maybe one family out in front of their house. If you had a marathon run right in front of your house (and you weren’t running), wouldn’t it be a perfect excuse to have a few people over? The fan support was by no means bad (I actually thought it was solid)… I just thought it was really strange that so many houses had nobody out.
Mile 4 – 7:02 – I pop my first gel – Strawberry ClifShot is the gel of choice for this marathon… plan is to take them a 4-8-12-16-20-23. This is the first marathon I haven’t carried them (using the little “litter leash” thingie) but rather stashed them in my FlipBelt. This is also the first marathon I’ve worn a belt. In the past, I’ve tried a few different belts or fanny packs while running, but the combination of bouncing, rubbing, adding weight, and just plain looking like a fanny pack has deterred me from using them. I started using one this winter to keep my cellphone which allowed me to use the Garmin LiveTrack. I used some Christmas money to purchase a new Forerunner 220 mainly because of the LiveTrack feature. I have a history of some heart problems (two cardiac arrests when I was 19 and 24… and yes, you did read that correctly). I have a defibrillator that would (hopefully) do it’s job should it need to, but it made me nervous last summer when I was getting up and going to run 18 miles by myself with nary a person having any clue where I was even planning to run. Using the LiveTrack feature, it automatically emails my mom, wife, and sister a link to where I am so that should something ever happen, they at least have a clue what desolate back road they can find me on. One added bonus is it allows me to share live updates with some message boards I post on (shoutout to the RW sub-1:30 and sub-3:10 message boards!) Around this point, I started to feel email buzzes every few minutes or so. I was pretty sure people were watching (and commenting) on my run which was really cool.
Mile 5 – 6:59 – Once again see my family on this mile which always gives you a little extra bounce to your step. I’m feeling fantastic at this point, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. While I didn’t know exactly what kind of shape I was in, I knew that my fitness was good enough that I was easily going to make it on pace through 15 (or so) miles. I’ve got my headphones on, but I have them on a pretty minimal volume. Loud enough that I can hear the music, but quite enough that I can make conversation with the people around me and hear the crowds. The spirits of the group around all seem to be pretty good. More than anything, it’s nice to just hang out and run and not have to worry about pace. I’m rarely checking my watch because Francesco shouts out splits along with how far ahead of pace were are every single mile. Somewhere along this mile, we all laughed when we saw a little kid holding a sign that said “My mommy runs marathons and all my daddy does is drink beer.”
Mile 6 – 7:03 – We reach the northern most point of the course of the route. We actually have a spot here where we jump on a bikepath for a bit. We run by a school which has maybe 100-150 fans cheering us on. As far as my body is concerned, we’re still all systems go. At this point in the Twin Cities Marathon last October, I already was feeling a slight twinge in my hamstring. I was running strong, but I was putting forth a little bit of effort to “hang” last October. Right now, this feels easy. I’m not sure who it was that said it, but someone from the sub-3:10 message board said the first 10 miles of a marathon should feel ridiculously easy.
Mile 7 – 6:57 – Saw my family another time. The night before the race, I took my brother-in-law and wife on a tour of the course. I gave them a few spots that I thought would be easy to watch so they could see me as many times as possible along with some advice on where to park and how to get to the next spot to avoid traffic. This certainly helped. Last year, I only saw my daughter once in the half marathon which was kind of disappointing.
Mile 8 – 7:00 – Another steady, solid mile. Another advantage of having a pace group leader is he would give us a heads up when water was coming up and what they had first (water or Powerade). We’re running back on the same road we were coming out on, so we actually can see some walkers and slower runners who were doing the 10k which is kind of fun.
Mile 9 – 6:59 – My favorite thing about this course so far. It is flat. Not relatively flat. Not kinda flat. Literally not a hill thus far. The biggest hills on this entire course are man made underpasses that go underneath major roads. If you are looking for a flat course, this course just screams PR course.
Mile 10 – 6:57 – Francesco is once again a rockstar hitting consistent mile after consistent mile while I’m burning literally no mental energy trying to say on pace. I’m getting a little annoyed at this point at some of the slower 10k runners. Our course overlaps with the about 5.2 through 5.8 miles of the 10k course during about mile 9.3 through 9.9 for us. The 10k runners are supposed to stay on the left side of the road and the marathon runners are supposed to hang in the right lane. It was very clearly marked, so I don’t blame the organizers of the Fargo Marathon. We didn’t have to do a lot of dodging and weaving, but more than a few people got some nasty “MOVE OVER!” comments from the 25 (or so) guys that were probably left in our group.
The average 10k finishing time was 1:11:52. We went through 10 miles in around 1:09:40. You can do that math and see that it was going to be a little crowded, but it wasn’t awful. It was nice when they turned off, though.
Mile 11 – 7:03 – At this point, the group is noticeably thinning. It’s kind of funny because someone will be right next to you one minute and a minute later, you look around and realize that they are gone. I don’t know how everyone else is feeling, but I am getting the feeling that among the group of guys left, I’m in good shape. I can see the “focused look” and less talking that comes in the middle part of a marathon starting to creep into them. In all honesty, though, I could care less about actually beating any of these guys or getting beaten by these guys. I just am hoping to hang as long as possible.
Mile 12 – 7:01 – Here’s what I wrote at mile 12 from the Twin Cities Marathon:
For the first time, there was a group of a few people that seemed like they were moving forward and it just didn’t feel like it’d be in my best long term interest of the race to go with them. I wasn’t really defeated, so to speak, but I was slightly deflated that some other people were stronger than me. That’s probably just an irrational thing I needed to not concern myself with, but when your goal is to run a fast time, anything that seems like it is going to deter from that is kind of deflating.
This time at mile 12, I’m thinking “I’m feeling strong” mixed in with thoughts of “Holy crap, I’m actually going to qualify for Boston.” See my family once again which is always a boost. This mile is one of the most fun miles of course as it takes you through an old, fun residential part of town.
Mile 13 – 7:02 – Another fine mile. With every mile that passes that I’m on pace and, more importantly, feeling good, I’m gaining confidence. I told my wife before the race that I knew I would be fine through 17 miles. My goal was to be on pace through 20 and see what I’ve got left. Right now, it’s feeling entirely possible.
Mile 14 – 7:05 – Went through the half in 1:31:54 which gives us a 36 second cushion. Francesco got us to about a 40 second cushion and then he said “now, we just maintain.” I was quite comfortable with that strategy. One thing I’m starting to notice is we are hitting a very slight headwind. The next two and a half miles are into the wind, but then we’ll get four and a half miles with the wind at our back.
Mile 15 – 7:02 – See my family one more time this mile. I’m entering that next zone where it’s not quite difficult, but it’s not quite as effortless as it once was.
Mile 16 – 7:03 – Never have been to this part of Fargo before, but it’s interesting. The road runs right along the river. On the left side (next to the river), all of the houses (some of which would be valued near a million dollars) are boarded up, tore down, or gone completely with only a big hole where a basement used to be. All of these houses were bought up due to massive flooding issues a few times in the past 10 years. I didn’t see the area pre-floods, but I’m sure it’s changed the dynamic of this neighborhood.
Mile 17 – 7:02 – We’ve now hit the turnaround point. I hadn’t realized it, but our group that was once 30-40 strong is down to less than 10. I’m hanging out right next to Francesco making small talk. As we turn around, I start to see some of the guys that used to be in our group. Some of them are still looking strong. Some of them have “that” look that every season marathoner can sympathize with.
I still have my music at a pretty low volume. For the past few miles, I’ve been thinking that when the going gets tough, I’m going to crank the volume of the music. I’m quite particular when creating marathon playlists. I went so far as to create an Excel spreadsheet with each song length so I could figure out which songs would hit where. I broke my music selections into five forty minute sections with songs that kind of fit the theme of each section.
0 minutes thru 40 minutes – “Warm Up”
40 minutes thru 80 minutes – “Wind Up”
80 minutes thru 120 minuets – “Focus”
120 minutes thru 160 minutes – “Intensity”
160 minutes+ – “Cuss words”
I’ve read stories about some people listening to David Grey or Coldplay or some other mellow music through a marathon. I can’t do that. I need to start slow and gradually increase. And at the end, I need music that screams at me a little bit. If you want to check it out, here’s my complete Fargo Marathon playlist.
One thing that I found funny. My PR coming into the race was 3:24. I set The Undertaker’s Theme Song to hit at 3:25 and I made it a mental goal to NOT hear Undertaker’s Theme Music!
Mile 18 – 6:59 – My last sub-7 mile of the race, but I’m still maintaining. Legs are feeling work, but certainly I’m not on the edge or anything like that. I’m starting to do some mental finish line math at this point. Boston is still the goal, but worth case scenario, I’m thinking if I run 8 minute miles from here on out, I’d run a 3:11 which, at one point, was the Boston Qualifier for my age and was a lifetime goal that seemed somewhat unachievable. Now, I’d have to mess up real bad NOT to do that. I’ve messed up marathons really badly in the last 8 miles, though. Still feeling strong.
Mile 19 – 7:05 – Here’s what I wrote at mile 19 at last year’s TCM
Mile 19 – 7:57 (2:17:04) – Was quite proud of this mile. Although my legs are starting to really hurt, I’m mentally forcing myself to push through. Saw my family once again. My sister ran along side me for like 200 meters and told me how great I was running and how fast I was running. I replied back “…well, it’s going to get a little slower from here.” I still had some push in me, but I knew what was going on.
Can’t help but feel great about this. I’m four minutes ahead of last year’s pace, still running almost a full minute faster per mile, and feeling much better. The word “Boston” keeps going through my head.
Mile 20 – 7:04 – Our group of 40 is down to five including myself. Coming into the race, my goal was to hit mile 20 on pace and see what I have for a finish. I still have no doubts that I can hang with these guys. Hold on!
Mile 21 – 7:10 – It’s crazy how “it” hits. Literally a half mile ago, I’m feeling confident. I’m debating how I’m going to try to convince my wife we need to arrange our trip to Boston while still making it to the wedding of a really good friend who’s getting married in Kansas City two days before the marathon. Suddenly, I feel a slight little jolt that feels like electricity in my right calf. Uh oh. Nothing big, but uh oh nonetheless. At the tail end of this mile, the group puts a couple seconds on me. I remember thinking “there goes Boston.” Somewhat depressing, but my legs are feeling the grind. I’m pushing, but my legs just aren’t responding.
Mile 22 – 7:09 – I was pretty proud of this mile. I felt like I suddenly was carrying an anvil, but I still was able to run a decent split. The group is now maybe 10 seconds ahead of me. I remember thinking that I’ve got a 40 second gap. If I only give away maybe 10 seconds per mile, I still have a chance at Boston. What the heck… get yourself close to that finish line and if you HAVE to run a 6:45, you know it’s physically possible.
Mile 23 – 7:49 – And just like that, there goes the BQ. My spirits are high, though. A sub-3:05 and punching a ticket to Boston was the goal, but it was like the “A” goal. Almost like every sports franchise who claims there goal is to win a championship at the start of the year. In all honesty, I didn’t think I was going to do it. I would’ve given myself maybe a 10% chance. I didn’t honestly think I was going to be this close, though. I’m proud because I’ve still got a fair amount of fight left in me. My legs just aren’t cooperating. I remember thinking that even if I totally blow up and run 10 minute miles for the last, I’d still be under 3:15 which would be a 9 minute PR. We run right next to my house I lived at in college, but I’m so exhausted at this point that I don’t even notice it.
Mile 24 – 8:06 – My legs aren’t really getting any worse, but they aren’t getting any better, either. I see my family for the last time. Their support during this race meant the world to me. Word’s can’t describe how proud of a dad I am and seeing my little daughter cheering her tail off every time she saw me was awesome!
Mile 25 – 7:50 – There is some crazy symbolism going on in my head. This part of the course is part of the first ever race I ran my last year in college. It was a 5k right near my house. I finished the 5k in 26 minutes with a break to “tie my shoes” (I was dying) and I actually contemplated stopping again to throw up on the side of the road. Now, here I am on the exact same streets at mile 25 of a marathon still throwing down a sub-8 minute mile. Incredible how far I’ve come. My pace group has disappeared in the distance and (as expected), I’m starting to get passed. I think only 3-4 people went by me in the last five miles, though, so I’m really not feeling too terrible.
Mile 26 – 7:56 – Here it is, the hike towards home. I’m pushing with everything I have which admittedly isn’t much at this point. The sub-3:05 is obviously long gone, but I know that I’m running a massive PR which keeps me motivated to keep pushing even though I don’t want to.
Last 0.2 – 1:47 – 3:08:16 (7:09/mi) – I was quite proud of my finish. I maybe could’ve kicked a little harder, but I was kind of soaking it all in (evident by “Angle 2″ of my finisher video).
I did it. 3:08:16. A 7:12/mile average. That’s insane. I dropped 16 minutes and 20 seconds from last year’s Twin Cities Marathon. 1 hour, 51 minutes, 43 seconds from my first ever marathon. In-freaking-sane! I can’t help but smile when I think about it. I finished 41st overall (out of 1652 finishers), 37th male, and I only got beat by four girls (one passed me in the last mile, though… dang it!) In the paper the next day, I showed up at the 7th area finisher!
I feel like I’ve been through so much in the past 15 months. I’ve totaled a car in a rollover on the way to work last February. On the last day of March, I was running on the treadmill when I got SMACKED with 10 “inappropriate” (meaning they weren’t medically necessary and my device was incorrectly reading my heart rate) from my defibrillator (I’ll let others explain how much that hurts). I spent a week in the hospital and got put onto a beta blocker for some reason (I’m no longer on it). I’ve been to the doctor because I was peeing blood. I’ve woken up before the sun rises countless times to get in long runs and workouts. I’ve had a month of no running due to calf problems. I run on my treadmill so much that I’ve CAUSED a stress fracture that has graduated to a full fledged break of my treadmill deck. I’ve eaten oranges, strawberries, and rice when all I want to eat is pizza, cookies, and Mountain Dew.
Normally, this is where I pick my race apart (if I would’ve done this differently, I could’ve ran 1 minute faster or I think this hill cost me 5 seconds, etc.) I honestly can’t critique anything about this race. My half marathon splits were 1:31:54 and 1:36:22. While not the “perfect” even split or even a slight negative split, it’s hard for me to complain about. For the first time in my marathoning history (which dates back to 2003), I’m completely satisfied with both my effort and the result. In looking back, the only thing that I found very strange is that my legs somewhat gave out around mile 21 and my pace slowed, my heart rate actually dropped. It indicates to me that my strength was my limiter more so than my lungs.
I’d love to run another marathon this year. I’d doubt it’s in the cards because (drumroll please…) my wife is expecting in late September! This will be child number two in the Hanson household. We aren’t finding out whether it’s a boy or a girl when we go to our second ultrasound this week. Once again, we’re just hoping and praying for a healthy kid (and if we can get a child that sleeps 12 hours at a time out of the womb, we’ll take that, too!)
The due date pretty much takes most area fall marathons out of the equation for me – especially the Twin Cities Marathon. There is a slight possibility I could take a look at the new(ish) marathons in the middle of October which allow race day packet pickup (a big plus). More than likely, though, I’m just going to continue on the path I’ve been on right now (morning runs/workouts, lunchtime doubles, and a long run on the weekend) with the focus being shifted to short races – 5k through half marathon. Maybe I can hack a few minutes or seconds off a couple of those PRs, as well. Long term, I’d love to take a shot at running something like a 3:03 next time out with a long term goal of eventually going sub-3! In the short term, though, I’d love to take a stab at running an 18:xx 5k, breaking 40 in the 10k and seeing how close to sub-1:27 I could get in a half. I’m not able to do a lot of my favorite races this year due to being busy (Fergus Falls Half Marathon on June 7th), being cancelled (Fishhook Half Marathon – my FAVORITE race!), or because I’m not interested in missing the birth of a child (or being an absentee father a week later!)
Thanks to everyone who was following along with my race. If you offered some words of encouragement before the race or words of congratulations after the race, thanks as well. I feel incredibly luck to have so much support. I’ll be the first to admit I was super skeptical when I heard about the plan for this race, but Mark Knutson and the fine folks who organize the Fargo Marathon once again hit a homer with this race. Word on the street is the course will be changing once again next year (which will make it 8 different courses in 8 years!), but I have no doubt that come next May, they will have dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s once again. If you are looking for a crazy fast, flat course, do yourself a favor and check out the Fargo Marathon. I imagine I’ll be back next year.
The only thing on my agenda all week is to fix my treadmill and install a ceiling fan in my daughter’s new room (she’ll be moving to a “big bed” as a birthday present in a month, although she doesn’t know it yet). If you need me, I’ll be eating crappy foods and drinking pop all week. And then next week, back to the grind of taking another step closer towards qualifying for Boston.