Monday, February 8, 2010


50 miles. 50 minutes faster...

2009 RR 50-miler: 8:02
2010 RR 50-miler: 7:12:40

2010 marks the 10 year anniversary of my running. January 2000 I ran my first marathon in cotton socks and cross-trainers. Funny thing thinking back is that my first marathon was also the last long distance event my entire family attended. It took me so long to get to mile 18 where they were waiting for me that my mother sent my dad to the finish line to make sure I survived. It took me 5:11. I can now run a 50K in the mountains almost an hour faster than I ran that first marathon.

Saturday far exceeded anything I knew 10 years ago that my body would be capable of...what an amazing journey it has been!

Last year I went out at a pace that definitely could have gotten me in under 8 hours, but when it got tough I slowed down. So I went in feeling confident that I could break 8 hours for the 50. Everyone I know always talks about how hard I work. I am not fast. I am not a naturally talented athlete. (Remember I am married to Paul...I KNOW what a natural athlete is). I like to constantly remind them I am just willing to work harder than anyone around me. It's all I have when it comes down to it.

Over the past 2 months I have been working in a much more structured way; thank you Coach A. I needed it. I needed someone to reign me in, and keep me focused. Not every run was about chasing the guys, although that is still super fun. There were still plenty of social runs and my usual time on my bike. But over the past weeks there have been many runs on my own. There have been many many miles to log, but each with a purpose.

I saw it play out during my training day at the Bandera 50K. I knew the training was working and with each passing week I have trusted it more and more.

It was in such a matter-of-fact conversation two weeks ago that I was told, "I figure you will stay in the 8:30-8:40 range." I don't think I responded because I don't even think I calculated what that meant. At lunch with my friend, Liza, the winner of the 100-miler, when she asked what my goal was I said, "I will be happy with 7:30-7:40 finish time." But this was in conversation with the girl whose big goal of the race was to, "not take a nap this year."

I set up my plan for Paul. I would be at mile 12 at 1:45ish and finish loop 1 at 2:25 or so, finish loop 2 at 4:50ish, and finish in 7:30-7:40. Easy enough...he would switch my bottles and I wouldn't have to hit the aid stations.

(see my food blog for my fun food adventure on Friday)

Saturday morning was thankfully warmer than predicted, so I didn't have to wear tons of layers. I got to the start line and set up my stuff. Once I checked in I saw Melanie. She said, "I hear it is going to be between us today." I paused for a moment and told her that I was not worried about my placement at all, but I had a goal time and wanted a good day. She said that she,too, had a goal time and felt the same. I think on some level it made it easy breathing for both of us because we could then totally focus on our goals without being wrapped up in the "competition" of it all.

Before long off we went. After the first few miles I was able to settle in. The aid stations were great because I knew people at each of them. It's always great to see friendly faces. At about 1:35 (maybe faster) I hit 12 miles and my first bottle switch with Paul. I just love his crewing style because he is calm and doesn't tell me I am too fast/too slow. He could tell I was comfortable and just cheered me through.

I came through loop 1 as Melanie was heading out..I think about 2:15. We cheered for eachother, and in I went. I like to be very fast through aid stations, but there was a huge crowd of people around my stuff. Quick switch of bottles and off I went. The way the course is set up is awesome because as you are heading out you can see everyone coming in. I could definitely tell by the look of some of the guys I normally run near that they were thinking my pace was hard for what they knew me to run. Yes, I was faster than planned but I was easy to say early on :)

During loop 1 my pace was all over the place. On loop 2 I seemed to be much more consistant. As it was warming a bit I had to stop to refill with water at Dam Road aid station. Fortunately, Sandy was there to help me quickly. I was very thankful for him. As I have told Joe, I love the new course. You get to see plenty of people, but with the 100-milers doing a bigger loop you also get your space. I was truly enjoying the best of both worlds. Funny moment was when I quickly tried to go off trail to go to the restroom...a guy came running up and told me not to even bother. It was a big race with lots of people. I figured I should at least TRY to squat off trail :) Oh well, I was well hydrated. Again, I came through Park Rd to Paul in quick motion and cruising along.

As before I was running in as Melanie was running out of the loop. This time we both put our arms out for a sad five to eachother. Things were looking really good for both of us! I think I turned around at about 4:27? Paul ran out with me, and I told him, "If I run 3 hours I will hit my goal." I hadn't even done the math that I had been significantly faster than that for each loop, so for some reason I thought it would be close.

As I was running toward the first aid station of the loop I could definitely feel my effort from the day. I kept telling myself that I had gone for it, so now I have to hang on. Everyone was really really sweet on the course. Olga, Mark, Robert, Larry H, just to name a few really kept me going and kept my spirits up. Again, I came into Dam Rd and Sandy was ready with water. I was just constantly lifted by all the support on the course. Once I hit the jeep road for the last time my legs were trashed. They hurt and I just wanted to be done so badly. My watch had died (Melanie said hers died at about the same spot), but it no longer mattered...I just wanted to finish and stop running. When I saw Paul at Park Rd the last time I tried to tell him that my legs were fried, but I am pretty sure the best he had to say was, "suck it up."

Somewhere in my final miles I reasoned with myself that I would definitely run my 7:30. What I hadn't factored for a moment was that my pressing forward at the pace I was (I felt like I was barely moving) would have me faster than that. I ran over the boardwalks and weaved my way through as many were going back out. I was so filled with excitement. I had worked hard. I had continued to push. I had not given up. I finished. I gave Melanie a huge hug in celebration of us both beating our goals! Paul gave me a huge hug and kiss in celebration...this was for him!

As Chris emailed me yesterday, it is so rare when all of your friends and people you care about have a great day! Saturday was one of those magical days. I am so fortunate to be around people who shoot for the stars with such positive attitudes. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such a wonderful support crew in life and running. They lift me. They are what keep me going when I am tired and when things get hard. They share every step with me and keep my heart full. It is the incredible people in my life that make me a better person everyday...which translates to every piece of my life. Saturday was just proof of that :)

No rest for the weary...Paul and I pace at the Austin Marathon on Sunday!



Eudemus said...

That is so awesome Mer! Absolutely phenomenal time. Congratulations!

meredith said...

Thanks, Steve! I can't wait to run with you in Calfornia this spring! I was sure missing the Headlands with all of the flats this weekend.

olga said...

You totally deserve it! I always claimed while natural talant matters, hard work is what puts a separation between a regular runner and a competitor. Ronda Sundermeier can tell you stories. Heck, even I could tell you stories of when I did train like that! I am thrilled for you, I saw you finishing, and I knew it's a huge PR day. Way to suck it up and continue grunting! And thank you so much for helping me out at Nature center - the feel was so good to have you gals there understanding! Now, suck it up some more and show us what Mer can REALLY do at WS!

KP said...

Way to go Meredith!!! Thanks for sharing, too!!

KP said...

Great job Meredith! Thanks for sharing, too!!!!

Sophie Speidel said...


I have been a loyal follower of yours ever since we ran together at Masochist in 2007, which happened to be the year I ran my best time there, so I can totally relate to what you wrote here...when the day comes together so perfectly, you thank your lucky stars and enjoy every moment!

Congrats on a fine, fine run and I hope WS is a dream run as well. I will be cheering for you!

meredith said...

Thank y'all so much! The support and encouragement is so very meaningful :)

Sophie - HI!! I, too, have followed you since we had those wonderful miles together. You had wings attached that day, and I just wish I could have hung on. Soon enough I will be back to your neck of the woods to run with y'all again! I look forward to catching up. It is always awesome to see how strong you are!

Runner Tammy said...

Congratulations on your superb 50 miler at Rocky Raccoon!!

You looked like you were having so much fun on the course and to reduce your time by over an hour is incredible! Good work:-)

Have fun pacing the Austin Marathon (will it be in the snow? or has the Texas snow melted yet?).

See you on the trail,

kelly said...

Great job, Meredith! You are running so well these days. I hope we "run" into each other soon. Take care.