Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Race Report

10 years ago I started running and when I would go to run a race my mom would always ask me, “Oh, are you going to run "The Boston?'”  Many times I explained to her that no, “The Boston” is a full marathon…26.2 miles, not 13.1 or 3.1, and that Boston is for real runners and I would never be that kind of runner.  Before she died I ran my first full marathon and I had to explain to her that no, it still wasn’t “The Boston” and no, I’m  still not that kind of runner.  The “I’m not that kind of runner” was the conversation going on in my head  in the last mile of Saturday’s race, headed to the finish line, realizing I was about to qualify for the Boston Marathon.   

Setting a goal:

Two and a half years ago I did something I had never done before.  I set a time goal for a race  and I told people about it.  And the second I did I regretted it. 

Running a race for me has always been like a party on feet—take some pictures, sing and be obnoxious, high five every kid and kiss every race sign.  The goal was to finish having as much fun as possible. 

 Committing to a goal, particularly out loud,  meant carrying a burden with me that followed me on every run.   That’s why, when two of my Running Club friends both saw one of my race times and told me they thought I could qualify for Boston if I trained I laughed at both of them, told them they were crazy and then went home and let myself actually think about it…for like one second.  

I then got kind of mad at myself for actually thinking about it,  and didn’t do anything for awhile until I heard about the Mount Charleston race and something about that race (pretty sure it was the 20 miles of downhill...it was definitely the downhill) made me think about going for it.  And that is  how I found myself signing up for the race and actually saying out loud “I think I’m going to try to qualify for Boston.”  And then I started to train.

I’ve actually been training for the race for two years it seems like.   I was ready to run a year ago, when days before the race Jeff’s mom passed away. She had been sick for awhile, but it was still a surprise and left us all reeling as we planned a funeral and began the grief process.  I think, at that point, part of me just decided that was a sign and I shouldn’t think about racing so I surprised myself a little when I signed up again for this year’s race and once again, said it out loud—I might try to qualify for Boston..or at the very least just go race one time. 


Revel Mount Charleston is a different kind of marathon.  Revel races  (there are others in the race series)  are known for being fast and beautiful.  This race descends over 5,000 feet, which makes it fast if a person can get through without blowing up and ending up in the medic tent.  I needed to run the race in 3:56, a 9 minute pace to qualify.  Training has not only involved the physical training for running but also my obsession with anyone who would talk to me about running, about their strategies, training, tips..anything.  Turns out everyone has a LOT of very different strategies and training. The physical training  for me was 5-6 days a week, with race pace runs on Fridays and Long runs on Saturday.  Mondays were a rotation of track work and tempo work.  Hill work was on Tuesdays, where I developed a love/hate relationship with a hill loop in my neighborhood that travels up .47 and down .53 of a mile.  Over and over I ran that damn hill.  One late night I ran that hill for 18 miles trying to figure out how to get my quads ready for a 21-mile downhill race  (actually trying to get my quads ready to run 5.2 miles after that 21 miles of downhill).  

I did long runs with the flu and one with bronchitis where I sat on the side of the road in between each mile for 22 miles.   I have joined everyone who would have me for long runs and done a whole lot of solo runs.  Almost every run had the same theme:  What in the world am I thinking????  I can't do this. There is NO way I can do this.  At least two runs ended in some tears and my last 20 miler those tears were embarrassingly in front of the sweetest group of runner friends who rushed to calm me in the middle of my meltdown.  Seemed like every time I went for a long run I got slower instead of faster and the work just got harder.  I doubted myself more and more with each run and I was super embarrassed that I ever said a goal out loud. 

Day before Race:

Got into Vegas, grabbed Lauren from the hotel we had selected (which should be another blog post about why you should never pick a cheap Vegas hotel even if you are just using it to stay for a few nights and don’t think you care) and headed to the Expo which was on campus at UNLV. The expo was great and things were starting to become very real.  

 While the others tried the leg massager thing I went to hear the Revel Coach talk through the race course.   I was trying not to look at the weather but I knew the forecast was cold at the beginning and hot at the end and the wind was supposed to be bad.  People were talking about it.  I kept trying to tell myself not to put a single excuse in my head because I knew I would drop them all out on the course on race day to trip over and weather would be first on my list…but still I freaked out.  We ate dinner, headed back to the hotel, and I began realizing all the ways that despite 30 plus weeks of training and worrying, I still was not prepared for  the race.  I realized I had zero nutrition plans because not one thing ever keeps me out of a bathroom on long runs.  My stomach is my worst enemy  (is this something I’m not supposed to share publicly?  Runners lose the ability to decipher between public and private information).  I also have porta potty fear, so I was completely unprepared for how to fuel the next day.  I did, however, buy some salt tablets at the expo
 and try them for the FIRST time (runners will all tell you this is the dumbest thing anyone can ever do and yet…).  I also drank 5 bajillion gallons of water and only one two Diet Cokes, which was the closest I came to anything smart about the day before the race.

  I also realized I still didn’t have my pace strategy worked out.  We had driven the course so I knew where the hills were and the coach for the Revel team sent out an email telling about how to break the course down into seven parts.   I had ordered a pace band online but realized, despite the fact the company sent three, that I did it wrong.  I decided I would turn one of the bands over and re-do it so I would know what pace to run.  HOWEVER….I also had taken some stuff to make me sleep, which I always have to do the night before I run..so the next thing I knew I woke up to my jacked up-half done pace band 

and the realization that today was race day.

Race day:
We had to be on the buses to take us to the top of Mount Charleston around 4 so we woke up at 3 (which was really 5 Nashville time, so not bad) and got dressed.  I packed a whole lot of clothes and wore a whole lot of clothes because we had been told temps would be in the 40s at the top of the mountain and for every 500 feet down, we would gain 5 degrees.   The temps were not in the 40s.  They were in the 50s, which meant we all knew we were in for a very warm run.

 We got to the parking lot and they dropped me off for my bus.  As I was looking around the bus I started to go into panic mode.  Everyone around me looked super legit. This race is one people use to try to qualify and so it tends to draw a fast crowd.  I started chatting with the guy beside me and he was telling me all about running Western States and the people around chimed in with their stories of running Boston this year and I start to realize I’m on the wrong bus headed to the wrong race.  I clearly don’t belong. 

I remind myself to focus and calm down and start to think of all the things I will do once the bus  gets to the top of the mountain before the race starts.  I get off the bus and get into one of the super long porta potty lines where the guy beside me takes a pic.
  We are standing there chatting, talking about the beautiful sunrise, when I hear them say the race will start soon and I look at my watch and FREAK OUT.  There are only 10 minutes (not the 45 I thought...it somehow had taken all the busses much longer than I realized to get to the start. I  panic, trying to figure out what clothes to keep on and what to get rid of, where the drop truck was, if I had both (yes both) of my Garmins on, where my headphones were and then they started to announce the start of the race…while I was in the porta potty line.  Ugh.  Full on brain freak out.  They delayed the start five minutes since all the buses go there late but we  still didn’t have time to use  the porta potties.  Remember all that water I drank the day before…umm…yeah…and my bathroom issues..ummm…yeah.  The next thing I knew we were starting the race and then….

Running.  And once I started running….it was all okay.  Every bit of it.  

First mile I knew to take it a little slower—there was a small uphill and altitude.  Next few miles, although they were a fast downhill, I also knew what was going to happen because I had read everything I could about the race and watched Revel's videos and knew altitude would make things feel a little harder.   I also knew I was going to not have to fight the bathroom issue and just made up my mind that I would try to be fast.   That race stop cost me two minutes filling my water bottle and using the porta potty  but turned out to be a good decision because my stomach behaved completely the rest of the race in a way that never happens for me.    I settled on my plan--Water from my handheld, 3 swigs of powerade from the aid station every 2. 5 miles and a Huma every 5.  I did salt tablets once every hour on the couse (I had done them the day before and right before I started and I think they actually saved me from having the problems many other runners had that day in the heat).   

Miles 6-21 I knew would be mostly downhill.  I decided to try to stay between the 3:45 and 3:55 pace group and I knew I wanted to bank some time because the last five miles would be hillier and hot and lots of folks  have their race blow up there.  The problem was…I couldn’t find the pace groups.  I finally caught up to the 3:45 but the pace group leader didn’t seem to have a solid plan so I ran ahead of them.   At mile 6 my calf was hurting and I stopped a couple times to stretch it out, I said a quick prayer , took the Tylenol I had brought with me and just decided to keep running on it and hope for the best.   I readjusted my pace strategy to just go with perceived effort and found that I was running in the low 8s.  Water stops were killing me because they were busy and there wasn’t an easy way to fill my water bottle so they were adding time but I knew I needed to take the time to get my water filled and get some fuel in. 

At mile 16 my brain started to hit panic as things started getting harder.  I knew I had the hardest part of the race coming.  I could feel the heat.  My calf was hurting and unlike any other race I've ever done, no runners were talking around me.  I fought the wave of panic.   I stop.  I think of NRC.  I make myself think one by one of the different messages people had sent me leading up to the race.   I think of the training runs with friends and the late nights alone and the cold weather runs and the miles and miles in the rain and I realize that all of that was working and in that moment it was putting me through mile after mile.  I think of Max, and our conversation about "doing hard things" that we had just had that week.  I suck it up and keep running.   

By mile 19 I  kept reminding myself  I would see Jeff or Lauren at 21 and they would run with me and all these things held me together.    I called Lauren to see who was going to meet me  (she and Jeff had told me they would work it out and one of them would be there)  and she said, “well, what do you need?”  And I almost started crying because at that moment I couldn’t think and I told her “I don’t know what I  need..just someone and I need Tylenol and a Gu because I think I dropped my last Huma on the ground."  She could hear the panic in my voice and she said “You’re good.  We will be here, both of us.”  And then I looked up and saw them both there; they had decided to not run their half because they were afraid they would not be able to do it and get to me on the course and run the last 5 with me.  And that was the switch.  That was what I needed to get me going and we took off and everything was good.except…it was hot…getting hotter.  “Distract me!  Tell me a story.  Tell me anything!” I pleaded with them and the two of them, two VERy talkative people, suddenly couldn’t think of anything to say.  Lauren decided to sign the lyrics of songs to me, and deciding one of the only two songs she knew had too many offensive words, she settled for the other one, Strawberry Wine.  

So there we were, singing “hot July night, saw everything,” at the top of our lungs trying to make it through the hot, uphill part of the race.  At that point , people around us were dropping off, walking—the heat and the cramps were getting to folks.  We saw a lady who was on the verge of collapsing, with another runner, trying to prop her up.  Jeff stopped to help and Lauren told me to keep going, with only 1.5 left in the race.  I told  Lauren we could slow down and wait for Jeff and we do for a beat and then Lauren tells me to fly and I know Jeff will be upset if I don’t so I take off running and that is when it hits me that I really, really am going to qualify for Boston.   I tried not to cry.

And then...it was over.   I saw my freckle-faced girl and her husband cheering for me at the finish line and the race people were putting a medal around my neck and  I saw my time and it was so much faster than I thought I could ever go. I couldn't stop smiling.  I still can't.  

Today I can barely walk.  That calf hates me so much.  My quads agree with my calf.  I am making sure every restroom I use has a handicapped stalls with hand rails.  But I don't care one bit.  I am post race high and still processing what it meant to step out of my comfort zone and set a goal out loud and to let people believe in me and cheer me/help me through it.  It makes my heart hurt  how badly I wish I could call my mom and say “hey mom, you know what I’m going to do next year?  I’m going to run "The Boston.”  She  would still probably think it was a 5k and she would be proud.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Why Wonderwoman Didn't Make Me Feel so Wonderful

I was kind of excited to take my boys to see the new Wonderwoman movie.  From the comments and reviews it sounded like it had the makings of something good: 
  •  Female heroine. 
  • No damsel in distress (or at least one that wasn't going to save her own day). 
  • Brave women,kicking butt
and I even heard the word  "empowering".

I was kinda expecting a new take on this:

And then I saw the movie.

 And before I say anything more I need to point out 
Yes.  I know.  It's just a movie.  It's fiction.  It's D.C.  I also know this:
It's not like it used to be better.

But here is the deal.  This time I thought it was going to be better.  This time I thought it might be fresh.  I actually believed the empowerment hype.  And then I saw the movie. 
And some people left that movie thinking "wow!  It's so awesome to have a powerful female heroine!" or "how great to have a brave, strong female lead"  or "what a great new role model for girls!" 

And I left that movie thinking...

That was a really fun movie!  That was entertaining!  But I was also thinking Wow, I really need to do more leg work.  And ab work.  And change my diet.  And consider intensive botox or facial something or other that fixes faces that don't look 19. And I definitely should put down this popcorn bucket.  I need to fix myself!!!  Stat!

Because at the end of  all the movies we all just really want a kickass superhero but we really, REALLY want a beautiful kickass superhero.  And we want her to fall in love.  Or make people fall in love with her.  And we want to wear her sexy costumes.  And we want to look like her in her sexy costumes.  And well, that's not so empowering.  And when I thought back to the movie I thought well, they did have a female strong villain, that's something, right?  But I'm still not even sure I want to think about what it means that the villain is made to look ugly by disfiguring her face.  I mean, they made this woman:

look like this:
And she was terrifying.  But what am I supposed to do with the fact that what made her so terrifying (other than the fact she was creating a horrific gas that melts gas masks on people's faces) was that her face was disfigured?  

Yeah, yeah, I get it!  It's a comic.  It is part of the story line.  It's a movie.  Wonderwoman is the daughter of Zeus!   It's a movie!  Yes, it is a movie.  And it's one more reminder that if we all really want to be wonderwoman, we better look pretty perfect.  Strong and Beautiful.  Soft surface, hard core.  Big breasts, no waist. Independent, not threatening.  Sexy, not sexual.   The real enemy isn't Ares, it's  cellulite and aging.

And really, that just kind of sucks.  I prefer my wonderwomen to be real super heroes.  My life is surrounded by them:  I helped make one:

And Hollywood, it's not like you can't give us real life super heroes.   After all, you did:
  I know plenty of them:  chemists, teachers, runners ( I actually know one woman who is all three of these things), attorneys,  business owners, school bus drivers, social workers, activists, musicians, athletes, school lunch ladies, accountants, mothers, friends, fighters-of-what-really-matters.  Being Zeus's beautiful badass daughter is pretty spectacular but being a sixth grade math teacher who makes kids love math and stays after school so the nerdy ones can have a pokemon club?  That is some serious wonderwoman stuff.  

So please Hollywood, show us more of these WonderWomen--the kind that don't make me want to buy makeup, do more squats or figure out how to get rid of wrinkles and not eat movie popcorn.

Showing those kind of women?  Now THAT would be all kinds of wonderful.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Dear Maddie and Jonathan

For Maddie and Jonathan's wedding they asked their moms to write letters to read to them during the ceremony.  I think later they will want to go back and read through the letters--pretty sure that a lot of that day is a crazy, beautiful, fun, sweet blur to them, so I thought I could post the letter here.  It was pretty hard to write a letter to my daughter on her wedding day.  I wanted to say all the things.  I don't know what all the things are.  I felt like a huge fake trying to give advice since she had a front row seat to just how flawed her parents are and just how real life marriage can be.  It was past midnight the night before the wedding and I said a prayer and started typing and these are the words that came out.

Dear Maddie and Jonathan,

I thought in true Mucci fashion, I would give my advice  in a rap.    Tom Baker, Could you please come lay down a beat for me?  Okay,  Just kidding.  I’m not going to rap.  Besides, it took me too long to  rhyme ferris forever.  Wear us whenever?  Declare us withersoever?  (and now you are going to spend the rest of this ceremony trying to rhyme ferris forever). 

I also thought it might be a good idea to pass out my new invention that I have invented just for occasions like this.  You can wear it and use it at the same time.  Functional and fashionable (and it glows in the dark).    sO I may need this handy for the rest of my speech.

As I look over there and see that beautiful woman today she takes my breath away. 


But in so many ways when I think of Maddie I will always think of this picture  


Notice the big fresh scrape on her chin that she got earlier in the day from hitting the mirror of a parked car on her scooter.  And that is Maddie—she knocked the crud out of her self, skinned her face but somehow expects that when she climbs on that rigged up scooter with her safety helmet on that good things are going to happen.  And that has been one of the greatest blessings of my life—raising a daughter who truly believes every day that good things are going to happen.  And they have. And today, we stand here in the middle of such goodness and love and our hearts bust with hope for you and Jonathan, Maddie. 

In Hebrews it talks about running the race set before us.  You know I love that scripture because it talks about running but really, I love it when I think of you and Jonathan because I am reminded of this huge cheering crowd of people around you.  You both are so loved.  You have grandparents who have sewed for you, painted for you, built things for you, cooked things for you, and prayed and prayed for you and cheerleaded every step of your relationship publicly on Facebook.

 You both have amazing churches of people who have celebrated your every step.  We are surrounded by friends who would do just about anything for you at any time.  


We parents pray for God to send someone perfect for our child and Jonathan, there you are.  You are sweet.  You are so incredibly patient and kind and you are rock solid.  You balance out Maddie’s hyper.  You laugh at her dumb jokes, many of which she gets from her dad.  You know how to embrace the awkward.   You know when she needs a Dr. Pepper and  you know when she needs some snacks and you appreciate how she wants to turn even simple moments into a party and you care about making a home where there is love and grace and Jesus and there is nothing I could ask more for in the man who will marry my daughter.  


You both have such an adventure ahead.  And it will not always be Dr. pepper and sunshine.  Because the truth is love is messy.  We fail each other.  We hurt each other.  WE are impatient and selfish and hangry and sometimes just not nice.  Do the best you can but if you can work at one thing as a couple it is this.  Breathe grace.  I just love sweet Mason in that video when he says that when things are difficult, in the end..just love.  Make your sweet home one where people will come in and breathe in the grace. 

In 2nd Corinthians Paul writes”  You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. “  Paul is telling the people that their lives are his letter to explain who Jesus is and the letter is written by the Holy Spirit.  And Maddie and Jonathan, your lives are our letter—your dad and I and Tom and Carol.  And Your life letter tells your story.  We are so incredibly proud of your story and so humbled to be part of it.  It’s a story of parents who have been far from perfect and pretty much always  awkward, of brothers who are annoying but adore you, of  funny goofy days and very hard days but mostly of grace and love.  And now you are headed into this incredible opportunity to build a home in a community that is going to be perfect for you—for the two of you together, to love on students, to teach, to learn, and there is no doubt that this is the next part of the letter that God had planned for you for so long. 

About that next part,   be gentle with us parents.  Remember that two minute phone silence that we had when you told me you thought you all might be getting married?  It wasn’t because I don’t adore Jonathan or because I thought you weren’t  mature enough to marry.  It was because I wasn’t ready for you to grow up.  I have loved  every single part of being your mom.  

I loved watching you climb the steps of the bus on your first day of kindergarten, watch you make up bad dances in the yard with Taylor and Marissa, I’ve loved you standing in the kitchen and learning to cook things with me, and I will never forget the night you came in and climbed in bed with your dad and I and said “Jonathan and I kissed for the first time tonight” and your face was the sweetest thing I have ever seen.  And we are seldom ready as parents to move to the next moment.  And we all feel a little like you looked in that picture with your safety helmet on, ski poles, skateboards tied together ready to fly down the driveway.    Like you Maddie moo, we know good things are going to happen..sometimes we just need to sit at the top of the driveway for a bit.

We adore you both.  Pretty soon the preacher will say you are husband and wife but it is your covenant to each other that will make you husband and wife, your decision to get up every morning and commit to love each other and do the best you can and to grow a marriage that is marriage your way .  Be for each other.    Tell dumb jokes.  Have Netflix marathons.  Try new wines.   Play board games.  Eat Reeses Puffs regularly.   And love…just love.