One Is Better Than Two

Greetings, friends! Its finally happened: The long anticipated merging of our two mediocre blogs into a Gestalt-like one. Figuring Jesse’s mom needed a break from switching from page to page (hi, Melinda!), and not wanting to lose Amy's three readers in South Korea, we have decided to keep our friends and family updated from the same internet home. This blog is a collection of pictures, recaps, and ramblings from a professional triathlete and passionate runner. Jesse has been racing triathlon since 2007, turned pro shortly after, and has posted several top-10 Ironman finishes. His eyes are on Ironman Arizona in 2015. Amy is a former division one swimmer turned triathlete turned runner. In 2011, she decided to stop cycling and swimming in pursuit of marathon glory. She has since won several races, including the 2014 PF Changs Rock n’ Roll Arizona Marathon. Her sights are now set on qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Accepting Failure

by Amy

Giving it one more shot in Phoenix. Can you find JV and Me?

A record number of days (for me) have elapsed between crossing the finish line and finally writing a marathon race report, and I'm sorry for that. When starting this blog, it was never my intention to solely write about the good races or training days. Like everyone else who has dedicated themselves to running, I've experienced plenty of highs and lows while pursuing my dreams. January 17 was one of those lows. I failed to qualify for the Olympic Trials on the final day of eligibility.

Running Rock n' Roll AZ as my final OTQ attempt was great in a lot of ways. Jesse was there to pace (again!) through mile 20, I got to race with many teammates and friends, and had many others on course for support. I don't think I've ever had so many people cheer for me by name, and not just because it was on my bib. I am very grateful for that, and honestly don't know if I could have finished were they not there. The race itself was "indescribably painful" (as I uttered after crossing the finish line). I was on pace through mile 10 (ha!), before progressively declining as I slogged through 16.2 more. There were no "rough patches" before feeling good again. Every mile hurt worse than the one preceding it. Let's just say I'm excited to take a break from marathons for a while!

One of the better miles with Tanaya, the champion! Thanks Josh Esquivel for the photos!

I wish I had some brilliant insights about accepting failure, or having it be a great teacher, or something else, but I truly don't. It has been really hard for me to accept failing at something that I worked my ass off for. As I drove to work two days after the race, it hit me like a ton of bricks: My dream for 2016 was gone. I shed tears in my car, recomposed myself, then had another breakdown after entering my office. The cycle continued throughout the day. I may not have set a marathon PR on the 17th, but I definitely set a personal record for the number of meltdowns in one day at work: FIVE! I share this only in hopes that it might make someone else feel better who has also failed at a dream. Sometimes you just need to cry and grieve the loss.

I'm happy to report that my emotions have been a lot more stable since the five-meltdowns-in-one-workday incident. While I am still sad to miss running in the Trials, I've been able to ask myself a fundamental question: If I had known back in 2012 that I would have ultimately failed, would I have still pursued running with the same effort? It took me less than a second to answer - YES! While January 17 was a heartbreaking day for me, I experienced some of the greatest moments of my life leading up to that race. Breaking three hours in the marathon. Running with my brothers to calm my nerves the morning of my wedding. Racing around the world. Being on a professional team. Winning my first marathon. Meeting some of my greatest friends. Most of those moments and opportunities wouldn't have happened had I not been willing to dream big.

A forever moment - en route to my first sub3 in 2012. This still remains my only official race photo purchase.

As much as it annoys me when other people say it, the reward is truly in the journey. That is why mine will continue. I'm not afraid to set another big goal, and mine is to run in the 2020 Olympic Trials. There might be ups and downs along the way, but it will be worth it again. In the meantime, I have a 5k PR that is begging to be broken!

Addy deserves this medal for inspiring me to run for the joy of it.

Friendly tip: Fostering a dog is a guaranteed way to raise your spirits. Meet Roman!

For another, much more inspiring read about failing to OTQ but finding joy in the journey, check out this article by Mike Cassidy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Miracle and the Marathon

by Amy

Perfect socks for RnRAZ - get yours at Sole Sports!

As single digit numbers mark the days remaining until Rock n' Roll Arizona, I'm feeling a spectrum of pre-marathon emotions. Grateful that my body has recovered so well from CIM five weeks ago(minus a small bout with food poisoning, I've been in perfect health). Excited for another opportunity to run 26.2 miles. Nervous, especially for the unknown factor of doing back-to-back marathons. Calm, even though this is my last chance at the OTQ for 2016. The window of eligibility closes on January 17, and with it does a chapter of my life that has been focused on running 26.2 miles as fast as I thought possible for me. I'm at peace with that. I'm planning on giving this race everything I have, yet holding the outcome loosely. I won't let it define me. I love this sport too much to do that.

With the new OTQ standard, 2:44:59 is the goal. 6:17 is the pace per mile. It's a pace I've run many times during long runs and races, but never for a full 26.2 miles. The plan is to go out at or slightly over pace, then hang onto it. Run an even effort. Relax as much as possible. Stay relentlessly positive. Be ready for the pain.

There's no fitness for my legs to gain this week, but my thoughts can continue to elevate me. In order to keep them positive, I'm planning on logging serious couch time while watching some of my favorite inspirational movies. Last weekend's choice wasn't the most directly related to running, but Miracle tells the story of one of the greatest Olympic moments of all time. My college swim coach was obsessed with this story, and I've been a fan ever since he introduced it to our team circa 2004.

As I watched the famous "locker room speech" scene, my thoughts couldn't help drifting to the marathon. Coach Brooks inspired his hockey team to beat the Soviets, and his words make me want to run the race of my life on Sunday. If you can watch this scene without getting chills, I truly don't understand you.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Coach Brooks:

"Great moments are born from great opportunity..."
Sunday is my great opportunity. My chance to achieve what began as an unfathomable goal. To achieve this goal not as a solo effort, but alongside the teammates and friends who have worked so hard with me to get to that starting line. We are racing together, in our home state, and chasing the new OTQ standard. I can't think of anything better.

"If we played them 10 times they might win 9. But not this game. Not tonight."
RnRAZ is my tenth marathon. I have unsuccessfully tried to qualify for the Olympic Trials several times. None of that matters on Sunday. I only need to qualify once. I still believe I can do it.

"You were born to be hockey players. You were meant to be here tonight. This is your time."
I was born to run. Not because I'm relatively fast, but because running fills my heart with joy. Since chasing this dream four years ago, I've never felt more alive or happy. Sunday is a celebration of running for me.

On that note, I can relax. The work is done. I am grateful for this opportunity, for my health, and for the incredible support I've received along the way. Thanks to all of you for reading this blog and for your kind comments. See you after the race!