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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

AkRUN marathon

"Brouse McDowell... Brouse McDowell... ah upstairs! Haha, Of course I am the first one here. I am always too early. I am really excited to see Brett, Dave, Creigh, Ann, Connie, and undoubtedly the Marks. Maybe I will know a few others, but im sure ill make a friend or two." The Pre-Race reception was small, quaint and a great way to meet some of the people closely associate with the Akron Marathon. "Oh gosh, I love attention, but I get super nervous to actually be put on the spot. Shew, Dave is going to bring up Connie first. Fingers crossed Creigh does the same! Thank heavens he did. She is pretty, and how is she STANDING she just ran 144 miles less than a week be in bed laid up with some terrible injury...focus Becki, pay attention, and actually are really rude in your head!" When it was my turn to talk my mind rambled on like it had while Connie spoke. Thinking of the startline, the Y bridge, Firestone park, Campus, towpath, Sand Run, Wiltshire, Stan Hywet, Portage Trail, Angel Falls, and of course Main st. There is a lot to think about when you have run numerous times every step of the course, just never all together. We talked, laughed, discussed the race, and hopes for January, then it was time to head home, eat some dinner and TRY to sleep.

As I lay in my bed my thoughts were everywhere "It won't be easy. Dont focus on the Sand Run part you have 16 miles till you get there! Poise. You can only do what you can do don't get caught up in anything else anyone does. I hope I can win. I hope I can finish. I hope nothing terrible happens. Im not ready. Im not prepared. I dont know if I can break 3 hours..." Doubts they always keep me awake. Like most runners, doubts creep in and it is our job to shove them back out.


3:48AM I was done trying to sleep, it was what it was now. I cooked up some eggs while singing my new favorite song of the week "Amen" by Edens Edge. I decided I would get it stuck in my head. It wouldnt be the first time I had that song on repeat for over 2.5 hours and I knew I would love it. Finally at 5:15 I headed downtown. As soon as I got in my car "Amen" was playing and a huge smile crossed my face. Maybe it was my day. My family arrived about 10 minutes after I did decked out in "We Love Becki Michael" shirts in matching colors to the jersey I had decided on. Which happened to be a coincidence. I love things like that so I took it as a good omen, and showed them to the start line after a quick stop at a porta jon.

I was greated by familiar faces and well wishes in the staging area where Bret, Dave, and John all wished me the best gave hugs, and encouragement. I tried to relax with my mom, aunt, cousin, and grandpa until 20 mins prior to race time and it was time to warm up. Seven minutes of jogging, 4 drills, 4 strides, a quick restroom stop and a shoe change later, I was down to my sports bra and spankies on the line of the race I had dreamed about running for years. Creigh announced that this was the nineth running of the race. I looked at Leo, and giggled "Nine is my favorite number" I said. Like I mentioned before, I like coincidences.

I hugged Jennie Kormanik and held back a nervous tear or two. "Poise", I reminded myself. The gun went off, and we were on our way across the Y bridge before I noticed. I was running with Damon Blackford, and knew he would be good for 6 flat pace. 5:55- "Ok, awesome, that was a cake walk. Be smart, chill and just stay as efficent as you can with your stride." Mile 2- 5:56(11:52) "WOW I was ready for a big slow down. I need to let Damon go. I am running too fast and I will regret this. Keep MY goals in mind...1. Win. 2. Break the course record. 3. Get another trials quaifier."

 Mile 3- 6:23(18:15) "Alright! Now don't get lazy, just roll with the course and enjoy it. There is Mom, Kasey, Grandpa...what a great family! Ok Ok keep your emotions together. It really is great to know they want this as much as I do."

 Mile 4- 5:52(24:08) "Ok im still well under 6:10 average, just keep it moving as easily as I can."
 Mile 5- 6:11 (30:19) "Perfect, I hope they are keeping people up to date, I know mom is going crazy back on Broadway. Haha...I'll see her in a few miles."
 Mile 6 and 7-6:04 (36:23) and 6:10 (42:34) "These miles are flying by, If I can keep things under control, this really could be my day. I hope my calf doesn't get any worse. It might cramp, but nothing I can do about that now, that damage is done."
 Mile 8- 6:15 (48:49) "Holy Cow Diane is out here!! Oh, I hope she doesn't over do anything, what an awesome person. I think im still smiling?!"
 Mile 9 and 10- 5:56 (54:45) and 5:59 (1:00:45) "Jenny! Nicole! Michael! David! Andrea! Jake! seems like every step there is someone I know! Ahh campus! use this down hill. It is really loud over here. This is great." As I looked up getting ready to turn onto Broadway I saw my family. Kasey was holding a sign that said "Balls to the wall". Mom with tears undoubtedly telling the person next to her I was her daughter. Aunt Deb and Uncle Kenny getting to witness a marathon for the first time. Most amazigly, Grandpa, who we lost for nearly 5 minutes in July following a 5 bypass surgery. They were all there cheering with their matching shirts, homemade signs, and more love than most people are blessed to have. They were proud...but now I had to hold on because I still had 15.5 miles to go until I could see them again. I gave them a smile (to hold back tears), and a thumbs up.
Smiling at my family

On to the Valley...

Mile 11- 5:48 (1:06:33) Sharp downhill and the fastest mile of the day and it was time for the towpath and I to have a little talk. Mile 12- 5:59 (1:12:33) "Fucking towpath! Gosh I hate this! Ugg the footing sucks, I keep slipping, and could it be more boring..."
Just before the 1/2 and the towpath

 Mile 13- 6:17 (1:18:51) "Becki, quit complaining, you are half way". "Yea and you are on your knees, but that's what this race does to you if YOU GO OUT TOO FAST AND JUST HOLD IT!" So I began to sing, "Can I get a thank God, Hallelujah, baby do you believe it do you ya, your moma called it she was right. Glad to see you so alive. Whole town nearly whoped and hollered." I started dreaming of the part of the course I loved. It was coming!
 Mile 14- 6:15 (1:25:07) "It is all up til Angel Falls, hold on".
Mile 15- 6:19 (1:31:26) "Amen, I am done with this frickin Towpath. Grr I hate it!"
 Mile 16-6:29 (1:37:55) I popped out onto the road and there was the Harbert family, I shook my head and hoped I didn't look quite as rough as I felt. Actually I hoped I really wasnt as rough as I felt, because this was going to be a challenge.
 Mile 17- 6:27 (1:44:23) "I am done worrying about pace. Just hold on Becki. You are fine. It's tough, you knew this would be the case."
 Mile 18- 6:58 (1:51:21) My Hamstring cramped up just about 400 meters from the Sand Run's intersection. So I came to a screaching hault and hoped I would be ok. I got it loosened up, and began the struggle that I like to call running once more.
 Mile 19- 6:57 (1:58:18) "What the heck, just quit, you are going to get beat if you even make it to the finish line. Wait?! Am I seriously leading the race I have obsessed over winning since Dec. 5th of last year, that dictated nearly all my choices and thinking about dropping out 7 mile from the finish line because I MIGHT NOT WIN? Who the hell am I right now...pull yourself together."
Mile 20-6:43 (2:05:02) "Oh thank God the Harberts again!" It was nice to see someone who is aware of the anguish I was going through. "Gosh I hope I can hold on".
Mile 21- 6:36 (2:11:39) "I love this neighborhood. Just get to Firestone High School. Becki I know you can do this, you are tougher than you think you are".
Mile 22-6:54 (2:18:34) "Finally up Garmin, in Stan Hywet, and on my way to victory I think. there is no one coming I can see and that means at least 3 minutes up and if there is anyone behind me right now she isnt running 5:50's. Forward can still win, even if it is hidious."
 Mile 23- 6:24 (2:24:58) "Geesh, this is really really tough. I have never wanted to see Market street so bad in my entire life."
coming down main street

 Mile 24-6:49 (2:31:47) I was happy to see Jennie and Nicole who would later say they were confident I was going to cry when I got to Market. I almost did, so that is why I looked like that. I got goose bumps when I saw Angel Falls Coffee. I knew I had to simply keep moving forward and a dream I've had since 2008 would come true. But 2 miles is a long way when it is mile 25 and 26.
25-6:16 (2:38:04) "I love running downhill, this is way better than I thought it would be. I finally feel like I can move again. Thank you gravity."
26.2-7:51 (2:45:56) I hit main street and knew it was 1k to go. I passed Ann, and knew it was 600 meters to go, I saw Andrea and the Akron Track crew and I knew I just had to kick. I turned into Canal Stadium and knew I could still break 2:46 so I pushed as hard as my legs would let me.

I crossed the finish line with 2 goals and held back tears. I shook Jim's hand for the first time, hugged Steve and Jeanine and thanked them for a race that could bring so much into my life. I saw Dave and had to hug and kiss him, Brett and John were quick to have my arms around them too. So many awesome people in our community that helped me accomplish my goal. And my family! How amazing to have them sitting there screaming like I had won the Olympics, with pride in their hearts and joy for my happiness.

My incredible family

The Akron course took all I had. Much like other lessons this seemingly fickel life has taught me, if you keep moving, keep your head up, and give things you never thought you could do all you've got, you just might over come them, with a smile. At mile 18 I felt like I had been kicked in the teeth, but at mile 20 I spit out the blood and yelled "is that the best you've got?" One thing is for sure in the marathon, you will never be given an inch, you will have to take it. My past year had it's fair share of struggles and I can say that after the race I walked away knowing I was capable of more than I believed I could do.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Little Moses In Me

Running has come back pretty easily, and that is a blessing! I have to admit my first day back I was ready for the worst. But to my surprise I felt normal. The weekly miles have increased over the past few weeks, and workouts while not very long have been encouraging, fun, and not too slow either! lol! Today I will do 8 miles @ 6:30 pace and hopefully I will still be singing the same song when it is over.
I was reminded this morning of something pretty cool, and it made me think of how I felt when I knew I needed a break. "Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away." (2 Corinthians 3:12-13) Moses didn't want the people of Israel to see his face fading, much like I didn't want to admit my lack of passion for our sport. Moses...the man who God showed his glory too(Exodus 33:18-23), was afraid of what others would think of him! I know it is in 2 very different ways, but I saw similarities. I have to be able to humbly confess my insufficiency and openly credit HIS adequacy. When it comes down to it, my need for a break, only more so showed my need for Christ. Being bold enough to admit a need can be a challenge, but since there is great hope in Christ I can admit my inadequacies, knowing He has, and always will make me whole. The shame shouldnt have lied in my fear of having weakness, but in my audacity to point the Glory ment for Christ toward myself.

Knowing it isn't about what I can do, but what God can do with me gives me so much to look forward to. Without His breath, I'm only dust!

So with the boldness that allowed Moses to ask to see God's glory, I ask for He use me to bring more glory to His name!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

a weekend to lafreakingove!!

As a coach and friend of many athletes that competed this weekend I can say I truly had a great weekend.
The All-Ohio Championships were held on Friday and Saturday at The University Of Cincinnati. UC's is one of my favorite places to be. It was the location I first broke 17:00 for 5k, and I have actually never had a bad race on that track. My athletes have traditionally run fast there, and I know a lot of people who run and coach at the schools in the area, and LOVE getting to see friends.
In 2006 I was an All-Ohio Champ in the steeplechase and thus All-Ohio makes me think of the good ol' college days. This year Coach Jones was there, and it was so great to catch up, and get to see one of the people I respect most in terms of running.
The first race of my evening was the women's "slow" section of the 5k. Kesli a senior on my team started the evening off right with a win and a 44 second PR in 18:42! Followed quickly by Kristen's (who has been plagued with Achilles issues since XC season) season best of 19:58. I couldn't hold back the tears knowing Kesli had just done something had always hoped a sub 19:00 runner. The next race was a big one for the Raiders watching Bianca run 11:37 for a School Record in the 3k steeple. The next race on the list was the 10k...and it was 25 laps of pride for me! Natalie went out and was 4th, running a school record by 59 seconds in the 10k! 36:51 was just under the 37:00 I thought she would be able to run. Rudy wasn't far behind in a 2ish min PR running 38:45, and Nelly finished things up with a 40 second PR in 39:06!
I shook my head for 2 days following the meet...what had just happened! In the midst of a huge break for athletes had HUGE breakthroughs!
I was, and still am, amazed an proud.
When I met Kelsi she was a 23:00 sort of 5k gal, now 18:42!
Bianca was a 11:48 Steepler, now an 11:37 steepler (despite meningitis that kept her from training Sept-Feb).
Natalie was a 38:20 10k gal, now 36:51.
Rudy was a 41:00 10k gal, now 38:45.
Nelly was a 42:43 gal and 39:06.

So many amazing races this weekend for my athletes, not to mention those I was just lucky enough to cheer for! Great races for Liz Correy, Emily Zimmerman, Maura Bulgrin, Eric Finan, Matt Collmar, and Sam Hamilton! Keep believing in yourselves and the athletes you are becoming! What an awesome sport we are privelaged to be a part of! I lafreakingove it!!
What a life I have! Now it is back to running for me! I am stoked to be back to the sport I love!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2011 Racing Begins

The week leading up to my first race in 2011 I was excited, and nervous. As the weekend approached, I hoped that all of the work I have been doing with my psychologist would pay off. I didn't expect to run faster because of it, but run a more confident race, and handle the mental side of it better.
The typical doubts came pouring in, but unlike in the past I had ways to combat them. I reminded myself to ENJOY racing, it is what I love, and that a single race never defines me, so it was time to race with confidence. I knew I would be able to run well if I raced smart, and mentally stayed away from the negative thoughts.
I started my warm up, and envisioned the race one last time. I reminded myself that for 9 minutes of my life I had to focus on ONE thing, and keep my focus there. All of my attention needed to be in one place, the next step in front of me.

The gun went off, and I was off the line quick, and just tucked in behind the chase pack. Erin Nehaus was in the lead by herself, but I knew better than to go with her. My PR was just under 80 seconds per lap, and to run 75's would be a mistake. My goal was 9:40 so 77's was the plan. I plugged away in 2nd to last for the first 6 laps. Then I moved around and filled in the gap off the chase pack, putting me in 4th place. As we came up on the mile I realized the person leading our pack (Rachel Patterson of Miami OH) was slowing a bit, so I went to the front of the chase pack, and ran a few 37 second laps trying to close the gap on Nehaus. I felt more and more confidence as I watched her come toward me. I reminded myself it was worth the pain to race well, and to remain confident. I was in no man's land, but thought I could push through it. lap 12 was 40 seconds and I knew I had to get back into it. I pushed the next lap in 38 but with 400m to go a gal from southern Missouri went around me, and it was just the kick in the butt I needed. I went with her and we came through the 200m mark together. I gave it one last big push on the back stretch, and we struggled stride for stride over the last 100m. When it came down to it, she had the better finish. I was 3rd in 9:41.11 a 17 second PR. I was really happy.
It made me excited for the next chance I will have to race on the track in February! I was proud to wear my Oiselle jersey for the first time on the track! I am feeling great about my training, enjoying working on the mental side of running and life, and excited for all the 2011 may bring!

My next races will be either the mile or 3k at the Akron Invite on Feb 12th, followed by something at the Kent State last chance meet on Feb 19th.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Marathon: A Fickle Beast

Oiselle invited me to write a blog about the first race I ran as a sponsored athlete of their company. Sally, THANK YOU!!

Aboard my flight from Dayton Ohio to Sacramento California, I couldn’t stop my mind from wondering to thoughts of coming through the 20 mile point, feeling poised and ready to cruise to the finish line in 2:36 well under the time I needed to obtain the long sought after Olympic Trials ‘A’ standard. I knew that would take a very solid effort on my part since only 2 months prior my dreams had come crashing down around me long before reaching even the 12 mile mark in the Twin Cities Marathon. Since then I had a few more great workouts, and very solid training block under me. Unlike Twin Cities I this time, I felt confident.
Two days and numerous bouts of daydreaming later, I found myself standing on the starting line breathing one last calm breath before the gun fired. It was finally time to do what I had imagined hundreds of times over in my head, RACE! I settled in quickly just off the back of the lead pack, and plugged away running 5:50’s for the most part. With each passing mile I kept waiting for the course to flatten out and the lead pack to start breaking up. Around mile 6 the pack began to break, but not the way I had hoped. I was the one falling off! The 5:50 miles had quickly turned into 5:45 miles, and I couldn’t hold on any longer. I frantically tried to keep myself from imploding, by reevaluating things, and trying to plug away at 6:00 pace. By 10 miles I was struggling to be under 6:10 pace. This was not the daydream race I had imagined. Around mile 14 a friend passed and with a slap on the butt she tried to pull me a long. We laughed a bit but I couldn’t keep up long. Mile 16 came in what seemed like 20 miles from mile 14 and another friend had caught up. She was having a hard time, and I tried to pull her along, but it wasn’t much after that she needed to walk. I counted my blessings then and realized, “this could be worse”. Around mile 18 a few men were passing out free beer. I want to tell you I didn’t even notice them because I was plugging away running as hard as I could, I was in the zone…but that would be a bold faced lie! I desperately wanted to stop, have a beer, laugh, and enjoy, enjoy ANYTHING!! 7 miles later when I finally reached mile 25 a little girl yelled “good news is, you can still break 3 hours”. Let’s just say she is lucky she was 8 years old because my smile would have been a more grotesque gesture had she been 18. Finally the finish line! 2 hours 55 minutes, and 15 seconds of dream shattering running behind me, then oddly enough I felt a smile come across my face.

I looked back through my splits, and had to laugh. I ran like I had no idea what lie ahead. As if I was stronger than the 26.2 miles of pavement that was ahead of me. And like the fickle beast it is the marathon had reminded me that all the confidence in the world doesn’t change it’s ability to bring us to our knees. I was sad to have missed my goal, ashamed of my decisions to run reckless in the first 10 miles of the race, and amazed with how well I was handling the disappointment. I have never learned so much in a single race during 15 years of running as I did in this one. Our ability to endure for the sake of something we want is simply incredible. Mile after endless mile we seek our goals with an unabashed passion, and the really difficult miles make all of the great ones more worth it. When I think back to the days leading up to the race I realize I couldn’t have possibly understood how much a terrible race could become a terribly amazing experience. I know I am blessed to fall apart to a 2:55 marathon, and I know that the next time I line up for a marathon, I will bide my time, and have a reverence for the distance before me regardless of how confident I feel, and if all goes well, hopefully I won’t notice the free beer until I cross the finish line with the Olympic Trials ‘A’ standard under my feet.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Exciting Things!

Some things in my life have been seeming very exciting lately, so I will share!

I have been running right around 80 miles a week with increasing voulme and intesity of workouts over the past month. It has been a lot of fun to get to do some fast running with Ann, and to feel some quick turnover again.

I have been working with my sports psychologist, Shaun Goodsell, and in only one week I feel like I am making progress to becoming a more mentally tough athlete. Shaun pointed out the root of my seemingly never ending anxiety. Everyday I experience it whether it be having to do a workout with someone, cleaning my house, or simply getting a couple things done at one time, I freak out a little inside, and often it is visible to those around me. I have wondered for over a year now why I feel this internal angst when working out with Ann in particular. She is really the only person I do workouts with, so I am sure it would go beyond her. I know she is a great athlete, but honestly I've never felt like I just can't run with her. However we would get into workout after workout, and I would panic and fall apart, feeling helpless. After talking with Shaun I felt a sense of relief. He told me that according to what he knew about me, the anxiety I experienced was due to a need for control over everything I do. It was like a nagging injury, it eats away at you until you finally find out what it is. You can be told you have a broken leg, and somehow you feel better just knowing why you are in pain.
Saturday Ann and I did probably the toughest workout we ever have together, and I felt a sense of calmness for the first time that I can remember. It was AWESOME!! We BOTH had great workouts, and I loved feeling freedom from the anxiety!

Shaun and I talk via email, txt or phone everyday, and then once a week we skype for about an hour. He is located in Minnesota, so that is the best way. His website is I am very excited to see the ways he can help me to become not only a better athlete, but person!

We have changed things a bit looking to Jan 28th. I will be running the 3k not the mile, and I am pleased with that. I feel like my fitness is coming along, and I am more motivated to chase a good time in the 3k than the mile for whatever reason. I doubt I would make the invite section of the mile, so the 3k was the better option.
I am excited to wear my new sponsor's jersey, and represent a company that is as awesome, and helpful as Oiselle! You can check out their stuff at they will be launching the Spring 2011 line on February 1st and IT IS AMAZING!!

So those are the exciting things in my life that I have to share! Also, January is 1/2 over which means we are closer to longer days, and more mild weather (fist pump)!!

Keep plugging away, and believing this is going to be an awesome year!!


Monday, January 10, 2011

it's indoor season

This month feels like indoor season, with days well under 10 degrees, and miles on indoor surfaces already under my feet! Yep, that's right I love indoor season! I love monotony and if it is time for indoor running that means spring isn't too far off, and that means TRACK SEASON isn't that far off!

I am looking forward to my first race in nearly 2 months coming up here soon. It feels like I haven't raced in a very long time so I am eager to get to the start line. I will race the mile at the Indiana Relays on Jan 28th.

Ahh the mile, it reminds me of college, and lactic acid up to my eyes! haha! I haven't raced a mile in almost a year, despite it being my favorite distance. I am not a miler, and if you have ever seen my knee lift you would fully understand haha!
I hope to be running under 5 mins in Bloomington in 18 days. My PR of 4:54 seems unrealistic to break, but sub 5 doesn't feel impossible. Tough, but not impossible.

After the mile in Indiana, I will be racing 3k in Akron, and Kent 2 different weekends in February. I love the thought of a 3k PR, and have made that my main focus for the next 6 weeks. or so. My PR of 9:41 only makes me want to become a sub 9:30 girl more than ever. I ran that time in Indiana a year ago, and have wanted to break 9:30 ever since. I will have 2 chances, then it is time to head on up to the 5k/10k for the outdoor season.

Training is going well, and I am actually feeling pretty fit despite not really having done too much. I am healthy, and eager to race, so those are both good signs. I begin working with a sports psychologist this week, and I am really excited about the help he may bring about. I have been told by 4 coaches it may be something I need, and I can not keep ignoring it!

So the next chapter begins...Indoor 2011!
Happy New Year!