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Learning the lessons

When I returned home from the marathon on Sunday afternoon, the first problem, of course, was getting up the four porch stairs to reach my front door.

The second was taking off my sneakers.

Toes on both feet hurt but the left one now had a nice blood stain on the front edge. I had no idea what I was going to see so I made my father help me. Would I still be bleeding? Did I lose toenails?

Frankly, I still have no idea exactly what happened. I had blisters of both feet and my pinky toes were the worst of all. There were some tiny cuts around the nail bed of my pinky toe so perhaps I developed a blister under the nail which popped and bled. Four days later the blisters are gone but there is still some seriously annoying discomfort around my pinky toe.

The rest of my body is slowly coming back to normal. After spreading hate to me for two days, my legs and I are starting to reach a peace accord. My calf muscles were the first ones to forgive me. My hamstrings are almost there. My quads, however, are stubborn.

But at least I don't have to go downstairs backwards anymore.

This was knowledge I had before the race -- that after long runs and long races going down is more difficult than going up. In fact, I had first-hand experience with this after running the half marathon in Miami and loudly complaining while walking down the jetway.

A friend of mine had experienced this phenomena after one of his long runs and asked me what was up with that.

I know there is some swanky exercise-science type of answer but I can't remember it. The science part of all this is not my forte. Not that I don't enjoy the science. I actually find there is a certain poetry to science. But it also involves things like math and equations with letters and anything more complicated than long division is a stretch for me. I adore the eloquent explanation with new and multisyllabic words but get lost if you try to explain too much of how we got there.

The science of sport becomes important to the conversation as I learn new things from my marathon experience and try to apply them to my training.

My first problem likely was dumping cups of water on my head. This I knew was a no-no but I did it anyway. And many really good runners do it and have no problem with it. But it does somehow mess with your body''s own cooling system. Also, and this I have apparently learned the hard way, when you dump water on your head it will seep into your shoe. Your shoes and socks get wet. This causes friction. And this causes, wait for it, blisters. This is why you live and learn.

The second issue was cramping, first in my quads but the cramps in my calf were worse. After the race I realized my skin was caked in salt from my sweat.

There seems to be a great debate about taking in extra salt or salt tablets before and during a race. Some things I've read say that there's no proof salt helps ward off cramps (as I think I understand it, basically I sweat out the salt from my muscles which dehydrated them and caused them to cramp, but I could be completely misinformed on this particularly scientific poetry explanation). There are other athletes I know who swear by them.

And this where people are different. What works for you may not work for me. I have to try different things in training to see where I gain benefits.

This is what I have begun to ponder as I start to come out of my recovery mode. Three days were completely off from working out and today I venture back on the bike for an easy 45 minute spin.

I signed up for the sprint distance at the Kueka Lake Triathlon on June 7 which is 10 days away and frankly I'm not jumping up and down about the idea of racing so soon, especially swimming in a cold lake with no open water practice.

But right now, I'm still enjoying my title of marathoner and reveling in the joy of movement.

The next big task is Muskoka 70.3 -- a half Ironman race in September.

Time to keep moving forward.

The only vote that counts

During the second mile of the Buffalo Marathon on Sunday I heard my name called from someone in the race.

I looked to my right.

It was Carolyn.

I hadn't seen Carolyn in some time. We swam together last year but scheduling made it easier (and more consistent) for me to swim in the mornings rather than the evenings. I had no idea she was running the marathon. She looked great and we hung together for a while. I pulled ahead and then noticed she finished about 10 minutes ahead of me.

I was so happy for her.

When we met, she told me that she started coming to swim lessons because she just always wanted to be an athlete.

I nicknamed her "rock star" because she was amazing in the water. At least to me.

Since then she's completed a triathlon and now a marathon. And I'm so proud to know her.

And so proud to see her become the athlete she always dreamed of.

It got me thinking about how we define ourselves. Which was a good thing. Because every once in a while I get an email that pretty much questions my entire existence. Like this one which showed up in my inbox the other day from a gentleman:

Okay.  Is your little experiment over yet?  To any observer, astute or otherwise (head in the sand included) you are not an athlete.
How many Amy Moritz's are there writing blogs about their mediocre training runs?  Now, how many get paid for it?  
11:32 mile pace?  This is as pedestrian as your 49 minutes for a 750 meter swim.
Anything worth doing is worth doing well.  And as soon as you finished your first season as a "competitive athlete" you express pie-in-the-sky dreams of a half-Ironman and maybe an Ironman.  No doubt you'd get the tattoo on your calf like all the others.  Hey look at my corporate symbol on my body.  Yeah, it's owned by the world triathlon corporation.  I'm getting the Pepsi logo next week.
You insult athletes by completely side-stepping the learning curve.
Not to mention, everybody with a mid life crisis these days is turning to multi-sport to right their ship.   
Based on your results you have no functional strength.  I'm curious what your dry-land consists of.  Like most wanna-bes, you'll state with great conviction that you work your "core" a few times per week. 
Now, I could go point-by-point here and make some corrections, like noting that I've never seriously entertained the notion of doing an Ironman nor have I ever thought about getting a logo inked on my body. Or that while I write and blog about my experiences as a triathlete I also write about a variety of other topics which include, but are not limited to, things like collegiate sports and professional tennis.
I could defend my 5:02 marathon finish or explain my slow swim in my very first triathlon or give a detailed description of my functional strength training.
But that's not really the point.
Because it's not about what this fella thinks about what I do or who I am. It doesn't matter how he defines who is and who is not an athlete.
What matters is how I define it for myself.
Yesterday, I heard Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer address students at Buffalo Seminary. She talked a bit about being authentic, knowing who you are and what you stand for.
What matters is not how the world sees you but how you see yourself.
Because you decide who you are -- and if you want that to be what someone else decides, you are just giving your power away.
Am I ever going to win a marathon? Probably not.
Does that mean I'm not an athlete? Not in my book.
To me, the person who trains for months to run their first 5K and finishes in 40 minutes is still an athlete -- if he or she chooses to believe that.
One of the most powerful things about my training has been gaining a greater understanding of who I am -- of facing my fears and those dark places we all have but really, really want to ignore. It's been about deciding who has a vote in defining who and what I am.
And I've come to the rather stern conclusion that there is only vote.

Cue the recovery

Oh, I knew this feeling was coming.

But much like the wall and pain of the marathon, you can't really prepare for what recovery will feel like.

In the days post marathon I am walking, well, like my grandfather. And while he gets around pretty darn for an 80-something guy, it's not exactly how I normally get around.

No usually I don't need help negotiating the three stairs in the Buffalo Bisons press box. (Though if I were, say, at all intelligent I would have sat in the upper level of the press box instead of torturing myself to sit in my usual seat out of pure habit.)

Normally I don't have to brace myself to get into or out of a seated position.

And we won't even discuss what my time in the bathroom is like.

This is actually an important time -- recovery. Your body takes a pounding in events, whether its your first marathon or your first 5K, and it needs to recover. It needs to heal. Come back too soon and your training will be off and your next race will likely be arduous.

Recovery means rest primarily. I have no workouts, none, until Thursday. And I have no idea exactly what I'll be doing on Thursday. But just like taper had me off my feet with my legs elevated, so too does recovery.

I continue to hydrate and eat fairly well though this is my week of indulgence. For instance, I believe that every day deserves a bit of ice cream.

And every day deserves a bit of laughter, thanks in part to my mother who sent me a marathon cartoon.

It will be interesting to see how my body (and my mind) recover from my first marathon.

In the meantime, I will enjoy my new moniker of marathoner ... and the joy of non-movement.

Race report: Buffalo Marathon

There were four points on Sunday when I cried.

Well, let me start with a disclaimer -- I can cry easily. It's my natural reaction to strong emotion. I can cry when I'm happy, when I'm frustrated or when I'm so angry I really would like to punch you but instead turn on the water works. Some people aren't comfortable with that. And right now I say too bad.

Because the first marathon brings a lot of tears for a lot of reasons.

The first time I had some tears was in the Hyatt at last-chance registration. My friend Sue was volunteering there and gave me a ride over early. So I brought my iPod, found a corner and listened to my tunes because I didn't want to get caught up in anybody else's drama. I would have enough of my own, thank you.

And then I wondered: What would happen if I didn't finish in 4:30? That's what I told my family and friends was my goal (along with all of cyberspace but that wasn't my concern at the moment). Would I disappoint them? Would they tell me good job but cast knowing glances off to the side and slowly stop returning my phone calls?

As ridiculous as it sounds, this started to whirl through my head and some tears started. Sue gave me a hug, said time was just for our amusement and I went off to the start line. Amid the crowd I ran into a few people I know and started to feel better. My attention turned to just wanting to get the race started and by the time the gun went off, I had collected myself.

The second time I started to cry didn't come until mile 21. The weather was starting to get to me. While it was a beautiful day, the humidity was picking up and the sun came out and, after I've been running for three hours, the sun wasn't such a welcomed sight. I took my shot blocks and water at every aid station, still I was feeling dehydrated. At mile 13 my quads started to hurt. At mile 19 my calf muscles were cramping up.

Around 21.5 miles my friend and former co-worker Sharon set up an unofficial water stop outside her house. I got a great big cheer from her, some needed water, a calf stretch and a pep talk. I was in some pain and knew my 4:30 goal was gone. Sharon reminded me that I was close to the end, that once I hit Delaware and North it was all down hill. As a veteran marathoner, she told me the weather conditions were difficult and that I was doing fine. And who cares what anyone things about my time? It's all about my accomplishment, not anyone else's judgment of it.

And it was at her water stop that I tossed away the piece of paper I had been carrying with me the entire race.

At the suggestion of my coach I carried along a copy of a photo of myself in college -- back when I was very overweight and unhealthy. While on the surface it represented how far I've come in my fitness goals and my identity as an athlete, there were other symbolic meanings wrapped up in that piece of paper. It represented all those fears I listed in the weeks before the marathon. It was all those feelings of not being good enough, of thinking that what I had to offer fell woefully short.

But at 21.5 miles, truly, that no longer seemed to matter. The voice of the diminisher was still in my head, pointing out that people may not like me anymore without that 4:30 time, but I told him to be quiet (well, at this point I was using rather foul language to tell him to be quiet, but you get the idea). I tossed out that piece of paper because that was no longer me. Yes, I will have the diminisher with me always, but his power of me, not so much.

Because I was going to be a marathoner.

And I got tears in my eyes.

The third time I cried was at mile 25.

It was the final aid station and I walked through to take a mixture of water and gatorade. This was it. Only 1.2 miles left to go.

I was sore. I was hungry. I was bleeding through my sneakers.

But after having to run-walk portions of the second half of the course, I was not going walk the final 1.2 miles. It didn't matter how slow I was running. Didn't matter if for all practical purposes I could walk faster than I could run. I was running the final 1.2 miles.

I took it all in and tried to keep from crying. At Niagara Square my friend Karyn, who ran an awesome half marathon, found me and ran me around the circle.

"I'm trying to keep from crying," I told her.

"Hold off until the finish," Karyn said. "There it is. Take it all in. Enjoy it. It's all yours."

And that brought me to the final place I cried.

At the finish line.

I smiled during that last run down Franklin Street and while it clearly wasn't a sprint, it was what felt like to me a strong run across the timing mats. I picked up my medal from a volunteer and, frankly, had no idea what to do.

And the tears started.

I heard my dad yelling my name and turned around. I have no idea how he got in the finisher's shoot, but there he was. As I gave him a big hug I started crying.

Then came my mom, with a huge smile, a huge hug and more tears.

I don't think I really stopped crying for the next two hours or so -- with generous amounts of joy.

My final time was 5 hours and 2 minutes.

Which only means I have a goal now for next time (which there probably will be) and lots of lessons learned along the way.

But right now, time and pace are questions left only to voices that I no longer care to hear.

Marathoner is a title that can't be taken away.

Nor is it something that ever should be qualified.

And that's perhaps the biggest lesson I learned through this part of my journey ... that there are no more "yeah, butts" in life. No, "yeah I finished the marathon but I had to walk in the second half." No "yeah, I ran 26.2 miles but other people do ultra races of 50 and 100 miles."

No more qualifying accomplishments or success or finishes.

There is no living up to being good enough.

Good enough is what we already are.

Game plan

Armed with the turn by turn directions and a map, my dad and I took to driving the Buffalo Marathon course. The entire first half of the course had changed this week due to construction on Ohio Street which, quite frankly, seems to have been going on forever.

The original route took several loops along waterfront developments then out to Tift and back into downtown before looping up to North Buffalo.

The revised route takes runners out Niagara Street, through LaSalle Park and the Erie Basin Marina then out behind HSBC Arena.

And the, quite frankly, it gets a little ugly.

The route meanders through areas that were once part of Buffalo's proud industrial past, which while still a source of pride isn't exactly the most inspiring scenery. As my dad and I slowly drove along the route making each turn we realized that the new course pretty much hits every single overpass in South Bufffalo. Not exactly flat and fast.

But not it's exactly Chestnut Ridge Park with Sue, either. Or the Rochester Cats half marathon. Or running uphill in the mountains of North Carolina with Scott.

Will those first 13.1 miles be a bit challenging? Possibly. But it's nothing compared with what I've trained on. Something which will no doubt be scrawled across my hand in big, black Sharpie letters on Sunday morning.

The game plan on Sunday is simple: Eat my usual race-morning breakfast, talk to as few people as possible once at the race so as not to let other people's freak outs become my own, run the first mile at easy pace then hit my marathon pace. I will take a gel (or in this case a Clif Shot Block) every 15-20 minutes and I will never pass up an aid station, probably opting for water since I'll be popping electorlytes with the shot block.

And that's it.

The outcome on Sunday is based on two things: preparation and execution.

As long as I continue to rest, hydrate and eat well the next few days, my preparation is good.

Now all that is left is to stick to the plan, and know that I have a wealth of experience to formulate Plan Bs on the fly should I need to.

Because the most important part of the day will be the smile on face when I get to that finish line.

Happy surprises

I am a person who likes surprises.

Check that.

I am a person who likes happy surprises. I need to be more specific to the universe on that one otherwise surprises show up on my doorstep dripping with drama and possible angst.

So in the spirit of asking for what I want, the mental note about happy surprises went out to the universe (and up on Facebook) and yesterday FedEx showed up at my front door.

Slightly concerned I had ordered something off QVC at 4 a.m. without thinking about it, I opened the package.

It was a bag of personalized M&Ms.

They were pink and purple with the words "Go Amy" and "Run Fast" stamped on them.

It was a gift from my oldest and dearest friend, Amy, who recently ran her first Boston Marathon.

Chocolate and encouragement showed up on my doorstep.

How cool is that?

And it reminded me just what a bunch of amazing friends I have as this journey to the marathon start line begins to really hit crunch time.

It was after my long, hard run when I fell apart that I had a text message conversation with Sue. I thanked her profusely for being there for me, for bucking me up and inching me through the mental and physical anguish.

She replied that it was nothing. That I would have made it just fine without her.

And, to a large extent, she's right.

I would have made it in large part because I inherited my grandmother's stubbornness. But I would not have made it through nearly as intact without her help and support.

On race day, no one will run the 26.2 miles for me. No one has done my training for me. It is ultimately all me -- a fact that is simultaneously gratifying and terrifying.

But I didn't get here all alone.

I had a cast of characters supporting me and while I'm excited about crossing the finish line, the memories of training for my first marathon will be made up of the times I shared with my friends both old and new.

There were the emails and phone calls with Amy. There were the runs with Karyn and Jessica which were more about group therapy then about actual training. There were those early winter morning runs when Sue and John would try not to laugh as icicles formed in my hair. There was coffee with Sarah. There was the long distance encouragement from friends like Carolyn and Scott who never failed to leave positive messages on days when doubt had a stranglehold on my thoughts. There was the patience of Mary who coached me through some trying times, even as I would spin my wheels in neutral for weeks on end.

The list is nearly endless. And if I had allowed myself to think about it, that kind of support, sharing and encouragement has been available to me always.

We just don't always recognize it. Nor do we always think we have "earned" it.

But as I bring myself across the finish line on Sunday, I will be grateful for it. Because they were the part of the journey that makes it so memorable.

The anxiety of the taper

Taper week might just kill me.

The training I could handle. Meeting my early-riser friends for runs at 5:30 in the morning in the dark of winter was just fine with me. Running for two or three hours on a Saturday and spending the rest of the packed in ice and napping was nirvana compared to this.

Because right now I'm basically doing nothing.

I'm used to having two workouts a day for about 10 hours or so of training a week.

This week, I'm down to three hours.

Today was my longest workout -- an hour swim. I was so jazzed to be doing something that when I got in the pool I was a bit too excited and had to backstroke for a bit to calm myself down.

So I'm a bit antsy right now and wishing I could spin on my bike for longer than 30 easy minutes.

And I'm hungry. All the time.

Friends and family ask me if I'm getting excited for Sunday.

The answer varies. Sometimes, I feel like saying, "I'm ready. Bring it." Other times I feel like throwing up and, to quote Loreli from an episode of the GIlmore Girls, say, "I've changed my mind. I want to be a ballerina."

But I understand the reasons behind tapering which range from physical to nutritional to psychological. I'm getting rest. I'm hydrating. I'm adding a few extra carbs to my diet.

My friend Herm, a veteran of several marathons who hit his goal of 2:57 up in Mississauga recently, said that if I feel fat and slow during taper week, I'm doing everything right.

Check and check.

If I survive this week, I'm sure I'll be just fine come Sunday morning.

Indeed, I am nuts

There are days when I hear my grandmother's voice.

It does't happen often and it doesn't happen in big ways. But every now and then when I'm on a long workout, I distinctly hear her voice reverberate in my head.

"You're nuts!"

I wish she had a bit more wisdom to offer me than to question my mental health. Trust me, I can question my sanity very well all on my own. Then again, maybe that's part of the legacy she left me.

My maternal grandmother died in 2001 so she never got the chance to see me compete athletically. And I've been thinking about her during this taper week leading to the marathon.

Actually, I've been thinking about a number of friends and family members who won't be here to share this momentous occasion with me.

While cleaning up my email, I found an amazing note from former Buffalo News sportswriter Tom Borrelli. Tom died this past winter after injuries he sustained from falling from the press box at All High Stadium.

Not a week goes by that I don't think of him.

Now, gratefully, I have the power of his words that can remain with me.

Tom wrote me an email about this time last year as I was preparing for my first sprint triathlon at Keuka, praising both my training and my writing.

"I know you will be a captain of the sun," he wrote. "What I've dared, I've willed; and what I've willed, I'll do!"

Those words will come in handy, right around mile 14.

My friend and former teammate Joy passed away a few years ago from a rare cancer and I know she's as pumped for my marathon as she ever was for any basketball game she played or coached in. She had a way of encouraging you that made you feel like you could own the universe. Joy was amazing in herself and one of her many gifts was the ability to convince others just how amazing they are, too. Those doubts of "good enough" and issues of "worthiness" can fade quickly if I listen for Joy's voice reminding me that I already am all that I need to be.

This will come in handy when the initial wave of panic hits around mile 8.

Then there's my grandmother and her all-purpose response, "You're nuts."

Change was not something she tolerated well and she was forever skeptical of new ideas and new ventures. Sometimes, her skepticism was eerily accurate. Sometimes, it was just resistance, a desire to stay with the familiar and what you know rather than taking a leap into risk where hurt and failure were options.

She would be interested in my bike riding as family folk lore said that we had an uncle who rode his bike in the Olympics for Italy. Which is curious, since my mother's family is Polish. But then again, that's part of the charm of family folk lore.

Running 5Ks might be OK, but the triathlon and the marathon? Surely as the sun will rise and set my grandmother would think that was crazy and immediately begin to worry about all sorts of things that could go wrong (including, I am sure, being concerned that I'm getting too thin.)

But something tells me there would be a sense of pride in her "you're nuts" statement/accusation.

Perhaps it would have opened the door to talking about her childhood at the Polish Falcons where, I'm told, she was a pretty decent gymnast. My mother said she was very proud of her gymnastic days but I never got to hear those stories.

I only heard the ones about her being a dunce in school or her tearful confession that she had to drop out of high school just short of graduation to get a job to help the family.

I would much rather have heard her brag about her Polish Falcon gymnastic days. I would have much rather celebrated all that she did accomplish in her life rather than examine the areas in which she felt she fell short.

A rather important life lesson as I head into my first marathon. Because part of me will try to diminish the achievement. I'll say that I didn't run as fast as I'm capable. I'll say that while I ran 26.2 miles there are others who run ultra marathons and race 50 and 100 miles.

At the end of the day, that's just a bunch of crud.

Because it doesn't matter how fast or slow I run. Doesn't matter that others run more. In fact, most people run less, or not at all.

What matters is that this is my accomplishment. It's my marathon. It's my day. It's my celebration for my reasons.

My grandmother would get that. Perhaps not for herself, but for me.

You're nuts.

Indeed I am. And all the positives that go with that will come out around mile 20, just when I'll need a good smile.

What for?

Of all the things I learned from my mother perhaps the thing I cherish most is her love of reading.Throughout my childhood I remember my mom reading, constantly. She still does. And while my available time for reading goes in cycles, there is always a book on my nightstand, always at least one book that I'm escaping too or learning from.

My mom's genre of choice is mystery while I tend to be more eclectic, this week diving into a literary classic the next into some mindless (but entertaining) chick lit. I also tend to gravitate toward certain types of nonfiction, including topics pertaining to female athletes and women's sports.

Enter Gertrude Ederle.

I have been fascinated by Ederle for some time in large part because I could find nothing much written about her other than a cursory biographical sketch.

That was puzzling since Ederle was the first woman to successfully swim the English Channel.

So recently I was jumping for joy (and yes, literally, I did jump for joy) when I found a book about Ederle and her crossing of the English Channel.

She was incredibly famous in early 1920s America. I mean incredibly famous. She toured the country to put on swimming shows with some of her American rivals and teammates and for two years only lost one race. Every time she got in the water she set, or came close to setting, a new world record. She was so good, it was almost boring.

Then came the 1926 Paris Olympics. She won three medals -- a gold as part of a relay team and two bronze in her individual events.

The rest of America was caught up in the success of the entire American team and barely noticed that Ederle had underperformed.

But what was she to do? She was 15 and her swimming career was over.

With the urging of her older sister, she decided to tackle the Channel.

After one unsuccessful attempt, she managed to become not only the first woman to make the dangerous and complicated crossing but bested the record set by a man by two hours.

And with that, she helped change the face of women's athletics in American culture

Poorly handled contracts and sponsorship deals after her success let Ederle fade away from the American sporting conscious rather quickly.

But she opened doors for women athletes and opened eyes in the seemingly endless debate of whether women are suited for athletic competition.

Still, the most compelling part of her story for me is her loss at the Olympics.

Had she won three gold medals she might never have decided to swim the English Channel. The accounts of her crossing never mention the failure as motivation. She wasn't thinking about the bronze medals while she was in the cold Channel waters. It wasn't necessarily an insult that drove her to train and succeed.

It was, however, a disappointing event that led her to a greater opportunity.

Because sometimes when we think things have gone all wrong, they've really gone all right. We just can't see the ending right now.

During her successful attempt, members of Ederle's team wanted to pull her from the water as a storm began to take hold of the Channel. Someone yelled to her to get out of the water.

She yelled back "What for?"

Thanks to newspaper reports, "what for?" became a popular catch-phrase of the 1920.

And as I prepare for my first marathon on Sunday, I'll ask myself the same question.

What for?

Only I need to know that answer.

And then just keep moving forward.

Just like Ederle.

The last runs

It was a warm, breezy sunny spring morning as I stood in the park waiting for my friend, Jessica, to arrive. We planned to do an easy 30 minutes as I finished up my last week of running before the marathon and she before her first half marathon.

Music was coming from somewhere down the road. It seemed odd, but I didn't really notice it until Jessica and I passed the source. It was provided by a guy with a karaoke machine in the trunk of his car. Apparently he was practicing.

It was odd, strange and the perfect backdrop to the final week of actual training.

Because parts of the journey to the marathon starting line can be rather ridiculous. And if you try to figure it out and make it logical or fit it into a preconceived notion of normal well, you will drive yourself nutty.

Saturday, my typical long run day, was still a long run but only for an hour and 10 minutes.

I pause to consider that.

Really? I feel that 70 minutes of running deserves an only modifier?

After doing runs of two or more hours every weekend for what feels like eternity, it's no surprise that just over an hour feels like a light day to me. But it's all relative. Last year at this time running for an hour would have been my longest day.

Now, it's an easy day.

That evolution didn't come easy, seamlessly or without a bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But it came.

And the days still include some wailing and choice words. Even that 70 minute Saturday run.

I wanted to do another part of the marathon course and enlisted my friend Laurie to help with the logistics. While she was unable to run with me as she recovers from a bike accident, she is able to walk so we picked an ending point and I dropped her off halfway then continued downtown to start my run.

It felt great. Until the dark clouds moved in and the clap of thunder ushered in a brief but powerful burst of rain.

Temporarily I cursed Laurie for asking if we could start later.

Then I actually was thankful. Who knows what weather Sunday will bring for the marathon and while I have run in rain before, this particular scenario was new on my list.

As soon as my disposition turned, so did the weather. The rain passed. The sun came out. And I maintained my pace to finish another good feeling run.

All that's left now is to survive taper week and get to the start line.

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