Highs and Lows

This weekend was {this} close to being an absolutely perfect one.  Friday afternoon, I said goodbye to the boys (who were being watched by my sweet sister!) and picked up three of my college girlfriends from the airport/their apartment in NJ enroute to our 10 year college reunion at West Point. Friday night was an organized dinner where we got to catch up with all of our classmates who had come for the reunion. We had decided to go sans significant others/kids so that we could have some girl time – we haven’t all been together in years.


Some of my closest girlfriends!


Me and Tracy – my freshmen year roommate!

We didn’t make it to bed until 2am – WAY past my normal bedtime but totally worth the exhaustion we all felt at 6am the next morning when it was time to get up and get ready for the day. Saturday consisted of watching the pre-game parade (first parade I have seen since I graduated):

My beautiful alma mater

My beautiful alma mater


Perfectly straight rows (ranks in military jargon – haha)


It was SO fun to be on the “other” side for a change!

 Having lunch in the mess hall (cafeteria):

Classmates from my company - spent 3  years in the same company with them!

Classmates from my company – spent 3 years in the same company with them!

Hanging out in North Area (location where we had formation 2x/day):

reunion5 reunion4

Touring the gym:


The crazy Indoor Obstacle Course (known as IOCT) that you must pass before you graduate

and lastly, attending the football game:


Football stadium and Lusk Reservoir


It was surreal to be back – there was a part of me that could so vividly remember moments and events like it had just happened but it also felt like a different lifetime because of how much has changed in 10 years.

One of my friends and classmates, JT Gillen, wrote a short recap about the weekend and I can’t possibly say it any better, so I wanted to share it with you. It completely articulates what I was feeling:

At one point during the night I looked around the room at my classmates and it was almost in slow motion, but it wasn’t from the alcohol. I saw smiles, laughter, and a lot of pride.  I just thought to myself: “we made it.”

We made it through four years of academic hell tied in with some obstacle courses, uncomfortable uniforms and no sleep.  We made it through watching planes slam into buildings in the beginning of our junior year then spending our last two years of college knowing that we would be sent to war.  We made it through preparing to lead America’s sons and daughters into combat. We made it through overcoming adversity as officers and getting our soldiers to believe in and follow us.  We made it through the firefights and IEDs.  We made it through being woken up by incoming artillery. We made it through not being around our families very much. We made it through the monotonous, sometimes meaningless tasks that the Army made us perform. We made it through seeing our brothers and sisters die, only letting the tragic event make us want to push harder and not let their service go to waste.

And we did all of this together and successfully.

And you know what? We are still making it.  My classmates still in uniform were all Majors with incredible military career paths ahead of them.  The ones who were civilians were all ethical leaders in their respective companies. We were making it through marriage, parenthood, the Army, graduate school, Corporate America, and anything else that life had to throw at us. 

And we are doing all of this together and honorably.

This weekend, I saw the journey I set off on come full circle.  I now fully understand what it means to be a member of the Long Gray Line.  It means being part of a group of people that has a tie to and love for each other stronger than the granite of the buildings on campus.  I’m kind of embarrassed that it took me ten years to fully realize the strength of this bond.  We have a love and reverence for that place that is unparalleled by any other institution.  We need to because this deep, almost psychotic, love for West Point is what has and always will allow it to continue producing America’s leaders. 


I returned home early Saturday evening in order to have dinner, hydrate and get ready for the SI Half Marathon on Sunday. I was asleep by 10pm and up at 515am in order to make it to the start area by 715am.

si half3

I did a slow, easy warmup mile and was surprised that  my legs didn’t feel as tired as I thought.  The only downside to attending the reunion the day before a race was that I climbed more hills and stairs than I have the last 10 years. West Point is notoriously hilly and we did a TON of walking on Saturday. But, the reunion took priority for me so I was willing to sacrifice a PR or a faster half for it.

I then met up with Jacqueline!! We have been following each other for months but have not had the chance to meet! (PS – she rocked a 1:53 on Sunday!):

si half

So race plan was to start around 7:05-7:10, drop it down to 7 if I felt good through mile 6 or 7 and then pick up the pace after that (if I could).

The gun went off and I forced myself to start slow. The last time I ran this race, my first two miles were at/under 7 (and I finished in 1:38).  Mile 1-2: 7:04, 6:58. 

I felt better than I remember feeling for the first few miles of Philly despite the much hillier course. I continued to force myself to stay close to 7:00 for the next few miles. Miles 3-5: 6:57, 6:56, 6:54.

I hadn’t realized that the course changed – instead of hugging the coast like it has in previous years (where it was totally flat), it stayed on one of the main roads so there were a ton more rollers than I was expecting. But my legs were still moving well.

si half2

Going uphill. Clearly thrilled.

I realized at this point that the wind was almost completely to our backs. Despite running at what felt like the same effort, my pace was a bit faster. I made the decision to stay with steady effort rather than steady pace, so for the next few miles, my pace was a bit faster than planned. Miles 6-9: 6:47, 6:42, 6:41, 6:48.

And that’s where my race ended. Around mile 7, I started to feel a pull in my hamstring. Nothing popped or snapped, but it was a slow onset of tightness. I definitely could have continued to run but I felt like I was already changing my stride a bit and it was gradually getting more pronounced, so I stopped. Although this was a race on my training calendar, it’s not my goal race and there is no reason why I should try to PR or finish this race and potentially jeopardize my performance at my target race (Philly marathon!).

I have never had any hamstring issues so my only guess is that the previous couple of days of tons of walking, stairs, and hills coupled with a hilly course was a bit much for my legs.

Although I am bummed I had to stop, I am happy with my decision and the way I raced up until that point. I ran just over 9 miles at 6:53 pace. I’m not going to say that I would have run a certain time b/c the last few miles would have been a fight – the wind was against  me and there were a handful of steep or long hills to tackle.  So, I will just take the 9 miles – the fastest I’ve ever run 9 miles – and chalk it up as a great tempo run.

I spent the last two days icing, stretching, rolling and am thrilled that I was able to run 6 easy miles this morning pain-free. So, in my heart I know I made the right decision to stop. 32 days until Philly and I can focus on some hard, quality runs for the next couple of weeks without worrying about a potential injury.

Did you race this weekend?

Did you attend your college reunion?

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    41 thoughts on “Highs and Lows

    1. Pingback: 2013 Philadelphia Marathon – Lesson in Not Quitting

    2. Yikes! I’m so sorry about your hamstring but you probably did the right thing! At least you had some amazing miles there! Your school is beautiful and that quote from your friend, even more so.
      Amy recently posted..Strike 2My Profile

    3. Great job listening to your body. Reading your report makes me think that just may have been my problem this past weekend. I ran my 3rd Marathon Sunday (Chicago Marathon) and experienced extremely tight hamstrings. I touched the back of my legs and they felt like bricks. I managed to finish the marthon…with a 28 minute PR, I might add…but didn’t reach my goal. Days leading up to the race…I walked up and down stairs all day, doi ng laundry…I walked too much at the expo and actually did some cycling around the city. I was nervous about all the activity but…I did it anyway. :-\

    4. Hi Michelle-
      I just wanted to give you a HUGE thank you! I completed my first ultra marathon (50K) this past weekend, 7 months post partum! Since I became pregnant last year I have followed you and read about the delicate balance between running and being a nursing mom. When I read about your Ironman and the fact that you stopped to pump during the race it gave me inspiration when I signed up for the Ultra….
      During my race my handler and biggest supporter (my husband) met me just over 1/2 way so that I could pump…I finished the race and although it was definitely a challenging course, I felt great!
      But, I couldn’t have done it without your stellar example and detailed posts..so thank you for being such a committed mom and runner!

    5. I would love to do the Staten island half one day and make a special trip back up there! As much as I love living in Florida now, I miss that my parents no longer live there so it is very hard to visit. Whenever I go back I often remember why I didn’t run back there, hills.
      Glad you made the smart decision to back out because no injuries is much better!
      genna recently posted..Where I’ve been lately….My Profile

    6. Michele, I admire you for so many reasons but I think you’re one of the few runners that truly listens to her body. I know it must have been harder to stop than it would have been to keeping running. I hope you stay healthy for the next month and smash Philly.

      And what your friend wrote, just wow!
      Jen recently posted..To the pregnant runner who wants to stopMy Profile

    7. I love this post because it shows that you CAN stop and listen to your body when it’s trying to tell you something. So often we push ourselves and end up with unnecessary injuries that then sideline us. You definitely made the right call and although it sucks that your hamstring acted up, at least you won’t be off running with a full-blown injury! You’re amazing!
      Heather Getting Fit recently posted..Dear Facebook Friends: I Love Your Status UpdatesMy Profile

      • I don’t always listen to my body, but thank you!! It’s definitely something I am working on and it helped that this was not a “target” race for me, you know? If this was marathon day, I’m 99% sure I would have continued running! HA =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Highs and LowsMy Profile

    8. I’m so glad you were able to meet up with friends you haven’t seen in ages. It’s always so fun and definitely worth the sacrifice of sleep!

      Good decision to stop. Listening to your body is so important!
      Nicolasa recently posted..My first 13.1My Profile

    9. I’m in awe of your wisdom and discipline to stop before getting a potential injury. I learned this lesson the hard way – I was doing a half-iron in preparation for a full iron when I felt knee pain during the run. I was stubborn and kept going and it turned into a full blown injury that kept me from doing the full :-( Way to be smarter than me!
      Andrea @ The Fit Scoop recently posted..How Pregnancy is Like Marathon TrainingMy Profile

    10. I teared up reading what your friend wrote–wow! You are really smart to have pulled out rather than pushing through the pain for a race that isn’t your goal race. I hope to be half as wise as you one day 😉
      Theodora recently posted..Taper is Nigh!My Profile

    11. Hope you are well on the mend! And what a weekend, I never went to any of my reunions.

      I had a DNF at Hartford this weekend GOAL race. Not fun, and really emotional since out the start my calf cramped up on me. But I am ready to rock NYCM and then hopefully pull a crazy PR in Palm Beaches Marathon in December. The decision to stop probably is the reason I am back and running fine. Pushing through 26.2 miles all in pain…and definitely NOT hitting my goal wouldn’t have been the right decision (for me).
      Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat recently posted..Hartford Marathon: First DNFMy Profile

    12. I totally get it! It is a hard decision to stop when you are racing, but you were smart to do so. I just got my first DNF at Chicago last Sunday. I stopped at Mile 19, and I know in my heart that it was the right decision.
      Dora recently posted..Not all who wander are lost!My Profile

    13. To this day I still regret not swimming at West Point. They wanted me and at the time I wanted neither swimming or the Army. Here I am full-time staff at my NG unit now. But I can’t undo things so must keep going on.

      You were cruising but it’s good that you listened and stopped. Eyes on the prize :)
      Karla @ Finding My Fit recently posted..Sunshine AwardMy Profile

    14. So glad to hear your hammy is already feeling better. I am really excited for your Philly Marathon day!
      I did the Rock N Roll Brooklyn 10k and PR’ed by 2 1/2 min with a 57:26.
      Sunday I did 7 miles plus the SI Half but i didn’t race….it was a long slow distance run for me.
      Looks like that reunion was just what you needed. Nothing like sharing memories with friends. Thanks again for serving our country too. It’s so commendable and appreciated.
      Sally @ sweat out the small stuff recently posted..Twenty Terrific Miles—Staten Island DayMy Profile

    15. Sounds like you had a great time at your reunion! I haven’t been to my college reunion yet, but Ill be excited to go when the time come!

      So sorry to hear about your hamstring issues. Hopefully you are 100% after a little rest and rolling. Sometimes I find that I cramp up after a long weekend due to dehydration so that may have been a part of your problem! I raced this weekend at my alma mater, UCF. Every year they hold a 5mile race that I have done since I was a freshman there. Its always fun to run around my old campus and see how things have changed. :-)
      Marissa recently posted..Race views and a Sweaty ReviewMy Profile

    16. Congrats on an amazing 9 miles. It takes a lot of courage to just stop and do what you know is right for your body. Huge kudos for calling it before anything worse could happen. And congrats on a 9-mile PR. Can’t wait to see what will be possible for you at your next goal race!!!
      Jesica @rUnladylike recently posted..Half Ironman Training: Week #18My Profile

    17. Wow what an amazing time you had! I have not attended my college reunion yet but hopefully in the near future!

      Good for you for listening to your body and doing what was best! I did not race this weekend (still sidelined due to injury) but I went to Chicago to cheer on my husband in his race and that was wonderful!
      Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Weekly Recap: 10/7 – 10/13My Profile

    18. You really were SO smart to do what you did–which is not easy! Kudos for the maturity to make that move.

      Your reunion sounded so great. I do love that you made that your priority–another tough move when you are a motivated runner! I think this weekend was a victory on many levels.

      Glad you are feeling better and ready to roll again!
      misszippy1 recently posted..Weekend racing and running successMy Profile

    19. Sorry about your hamstring, but I am so impressed you were able to recognize it and pull out. Takes discipline! Glad you had a great reunion. All of my college friends went to our reunion, but I live too far away. I get to see them all when I am back home anyway (I went to college 2 hours from home and they all stuck in the area) so I did not feel I was missing too much.
      Amy @ Run Write Hike recently posted..The Best Week of the YearMy Profile

    20. Yes, Michele! Such a smart choice to chalk that race up as a fast tempo and stop when you felt the pain! Not worth sacrificing your marathon and other future races! I’m guessing it was the stairs and extra walking too, but it’s always worth it to spend time with friends and family over a PR (as you know)! I love your attitude & how realistic you are! Keep it up!
      Jen B recently posted..Two Weeks Post BabyMy Profile

    21. First, I’m glad you had a great weekend at West Point. That looks and sounds like so much fun. My brother was between West Point and the Merchant Marine Academy but decided to go to the Merchant Marine. We toured both places and West Point is absolutely beautiful.

      I think you 100% made the right decision not to finish the race. That race is not worth an injury or Philly and I’m glad you had an injury free run later on.

      No races for me, just focusing on some final build up for the NYCM. :-)
      Hollie recently posted..NYCM Peak Week 1 (102 miles)My Profile

    22. Hw did I not know you went to West Point? I am so impressed! My husband went to USNA and so I have an incredible respect for students at military academies. The workload is incomprehensible to those of us who went to “normal” school. Glad your reunion was so fun!

      So sorry the race did not go as planned. You were very smart to back off though and I am hoping it heals completely very fast. You still have plenty of time before Philly so don’t stress.
      Kris @ http://www.kris-lawrence.com recently posted..Running Errands & Marathon AdviceMy Profile