I didn't make Boston.
I was ready. I was mentally and physically ready and knew I could do it. My mindset was there. I was going to be a Boston qualifying marathoner. But I knew the moment in the race that it wasn't going to happen. I still was on pace at 20 miles. I got this! I'm really going to do it! This kind gentleman was running next to me for a few miles, we were chatting, and decided not to take my gels when I should have. "It's fine. It will be okay. I only have 6 miles left. I can push through," but I couldn't. My pace started to slow down. I'm losing energy. The lactic acid was building up in my legs so much that I knew I was going to hit the wall before the finish. I need fuel. But I didn't have any of my gels...oh no. They all fell off of me. I'm not going to make it. Luckily, Mom came to my rescue and after taking a quick rest and gobbling down pretzels and a few dates, I was off. Well now the goal is to just finish and get a PR.
In that race, I went from a qualifying Boston marathoner to just barely finishing (although it was still a PR). It wasn't my mindset that went wrong. I had just made a mistake in my nutrition and fueling plan; and unfortunately it cost me 10 minutes. I was completely disappointed. But I knew it just wasn't my time. It wasn't the day I thought it would be. Coach said "come run CMI" and give it another shot in December. He knew I was ready mentally and physically. But honestly I was so burnt out. I just needed a break.
A few months later, I ended up moving back home to NY from FL because I was broke- my relationship wasn't working out and "my business" was struggling. I felt like a failure. I had failed myself and others. Why would anyone even want to learn or work with me when I couldn't fuel my body right as a plant based marathon runner and nutrition coach?
I thought that was the lowest point of my life. But then I was invited to run the Boston Marathon (the year I was supposed to qualify) in 2022 as a support runner for a Parkinson's runner. It was the best experience of my life and was so grateful. The connections I had made and showing up on my social media felt all worth it just for this.
Afterwards, I knew I needed a new focus. I ran Boston, now what? Well first I needed to get out of my parent's house. So I decided to focus on my financial situation. I needed to make more money to afford a place to live and to get myself out of debt. In some ways, I felt like my net worth was tied to my self esteem. Making more money did give me more confidence since was able to get my own space and pay off debt. After learning everything I could from others and teaching myself about budgeting and learning new side hustles, I was able to pay off $20K of debt in a year and today will be close to debt free except for my federal student loans.
During that time, I took off running (meaning not running consistently or training for anything) until I decided to train for the Finger Lakes 50K. Remember that foot injury that started when I was training for Boston came back. I had moved for my first travel dietitian job and started ramping up my mileage probably too quickly. This time, I wasn't so lucky, I was told in June 2022 that I had a stress fracture in my right great bilateral sesamoid. I was also diagnosed with seasamoiditis (which later learned that it would be something that I learn to live with). I was devastated. It felt like my running career was over and my business: "now no one is going to want me to train them to run a marathon or an ultra." Especially since I can't even get myself to there...
Again, I shifted my focus to my finances and making as much money as I could. I was able to work more and took another full time travel position for $50/hour which was the most money I had ever made hourly. I was also working a part time remote nutrition job, counseling clients on weight loss and healthy eating. I was working a lot and knew burn out was going to come. How long could I do this? But I was close to making 100K annually. I felt on top of the world. I wasn't giving up on running though. I went to multiple orthopedics, sports medicine doctors, chiropractors, and a PT. I finally found a chiropractor that gave me hope without getting surgery (which after a year, I thought was going to have to, but then I would be out of work so that scared me). At that point, I would have tried anything else and I had the money to do it. I started getting shockwave therapy treatments (insurance doesn't pay for it, so it is out of pocket) and went for 12+ weeks 2x/week then 1x/week then once every 2-3 weeks. At first, I didn't think it was working. I was finally out of the boot (for the second time) after 9 or 10 sessions, but still couldn't run without pain and barely walk. But then eventually, it started to get better. I kept up my walking usually 2 miles a couple times a week and started run/walking those 2 miles until I could run.
I was running again!! I was so happy! But I wasn't in the clear yet. It still didn't feel right or would flare up so would have to back off and not run. At this point, I was getting more frustrated because I signed up for a sprint triathlon since was doing a lot of swimming and biking. Also, my boyfriend was doing it too! But I decided to still do it and changed to the aquathon instead which is just the swim and bike. The swim was awful because the water was so cold, like frigid ice cold even with a wetsuit and wavy as heck. I was swallowing water and having a panic attack in the water, but kept moving forward. Then I was finally out and got on my bike. The bike felt great. I was doing a lot of cycle classes on my trainer using the Peloton app and bought a road bike. It was hilly, but I would ride by bike along the lake where the race was held. I got off my bike and watched my boyfriend finish his first triathlon. I was so proud and knew I'd be back out there to complete the full one soon.
About 2 months later, I moved in with my boyfriend, quit my travel job early, and completed a training sprint triathlon with the RATS. I had about a month to get ready for my intermediate triathlon. I had signed up for the Finger Lakes Triathlon when I signed up for the sprint in the beginning of the year. i still wasn't back to running completely, but continued to bike and swim at least 2-3x/week. My seasamoid bone in my great toe wasn't causing me pain, but about 3 weeks before the triathlon, my ankle blew up. I thought I was back to running then bam! I could barely even walk and was limping every time I tried to run because of the pain - there was a shooting pain through my outside ankle. "F#$% me!" I was so frustrated, but I gave it rest, kept trying to run 2x/week (following my training plan) and if I couldn't, I just walked.
At this point, I was unsure if I was going to be able to compete again in the full triathlon. I thought for sure I was going to have to do the aquabike again, but I was determined to run and to complete the intermediate (Olympic distance) which was 0.9 mile swim, 24 mile bike, and 10K run). After completing the training sprint and running the 3 miles after the bike, I knew I could do it. I was going to do it.
And I did! I came in 4th place! I almost thought I had placed in the top 3 because I did way better than I expected. I thought it would take me 4 hours, but it took me 3:18!! When I looked at the results, the other females my age completed in under 3 hours and there were only 4 of us. Oh I was last. But I did so good and now I knew what I could do. I felt great and was having fun! A older male spectator commented that I was smiling and having too much fun on the run! I yelled, "You have to endure the pain!" and another triathlete just looked at me and smiled slightly. I'm not sure if he was annoyed or knew I was right. We chose to be here. Although I did have way more energy than I should have. I could have gone harder, but I was just so happy to be running - to be competing again. I love this! This is where I feel truly alive. The only disappointment I felt was...now what? It's the end of the triathlon season here, but I'm just getting started! I'm back in the game and found a new sport!
I know this is just the start of my triathlon journey. Being a beginner again sucks. But at this race, I felt like I knew what I was doing and felt confident that I could do this. It was a great feeling to finally feel like a triathlete and just an athlete again in general. I definitely have so much more gratitude to compete and just be able to run no matter what place I am.
But what about running? Will there be more marathons or will I try to qualify for Boston again? Possibly. But as of right now my focus will be more on triathlons (maybe an Ironman in the near future?) and possibly an ultra. As David Goggins believes: there are times to try again and there are times to move on. I will be moving on from marathon running, but I do want to try to run an ultra again since I really didn't try yet.
Failure is expected and even welcomed. Because if I don't fail then I'm not trying. Failure is only a setback and is where you will learn the most in what you truly desire or what is most important to you. My family, my relationships, my mental health, my ability to have my basic needs are most important and have to come first before sport. I have to have other things built in my life first before becoming the athlete I want. Running (or any sport really) really does make you stronger for life which is why it will always be a part of my life. But I'm not looking to be the BEST, I just want to do my best and be the best version of ME.