It’s April 15th and it still feels like winter here. Today was the inaugural Fort Hill Brewery Half Marathon. Proceeds supported the town high school’s track and field and cross country programs. The weather predictions called for freezing rain and temperatures in the low 30s. Well Mother Nature was on our side. It was cold, but it’s afternoon now and still no rain. The cold I can handle. I was dressed properly and my hands were nice and warm. The wind coming right at us at various points along the course was not very nice, but no complaints because it was not raining.
My running partner, M, and I have been training for this race most of the winter. However, the last 6 weeks or so haven’t produced the best running. She was sick, I was away, I returned and have been feeling really off, and this winter just will not end. We stuck with our training despite some runs that felt downright awful. We maxed out at 10.5 miles and that was by far the most horrible run thanks to unexpected GI issues after I worked an overnight shift at the hospital. M kept me laughing though. We still made it 10.5 of the 11 planned miles that day.
The half marathon went much better than I anticipated. We ran, talked, and enjoyed the course. It was a route we have never run. The race was small and there were virtually no spectators. However, my dear friend Nancy waited at the end of her driveway to cheer for us around mile 5. She even had a sign for me! At the end of the race there was beer and pizza. I’m not a beer drinker and I don’t eat cheese. I sound like a lot of fun, don’t I?! They did have these amazing little energy bars and then, of course, we went for coffee.
Last weekend, I ran a local 5K with Carlos. It was a benefit for the town’s high school music program. I went outside after I woke up and was slapped in the face with 20 something degrees of coldness. The Tiger Pride Trot 5K started at 9am and at 8:15 I finally decided we should brave the cold and run. I do not love 5Ks because I feel like I have to hold a faster than normal/comfortable pace the entire time. Self-imposed nonsensical thought process, I know. Carlos ran with his friend and his friend’s dad, also his soccer coach. He’s an awesome guy who really tries to motivate the kids to stay active. I moved ahead of them early on because I knew Carlos was fine with his friend and might actually enjoy the experience a little more without me right there. I was by no means killing myself, but once I warmed up, I felt great. This teenage girl stopped about 3/10ths of a mile before the finish and I passed her. About a 10th of a mile before the finish line I could feel her coming up behind me so I decided to fire it up for a little friendly competition. We crossed the finish line at just about the same time. She did beat me though! I was just thrilled to be back to a sub-30 minute 5K. Seriously the bounce back from the Achilles injury and subsequent 10-15 lb (depending on the day) weight gain over the last few years has really slowed me down. My attitude about it has been very relaxed, but I am finally beginning to contemplate running goals again.
Carlos crossed the finish line shortly after I did and he was all smiles. It’s the first race he has accomplished by running the entire distance without walking or complaining. I was very proud of him and secretly proud of myself for beating an 11 year old! Of course, I did not gloat. A couple of days later, my friend who also ran the race with her 11 year old and pushing her 4 year old in a stroller, texted to tell me I came in 2nd and she 3rd in our age group. OK that’s not saying much about the speediness of our age group then. My friend would have come in first and smoked the competition if she didn’t have the stroller. I ran with her once a long time ago and literally thought I was going to die after a couple of miles. She is fast! But I still say hot damn! Who the heck would have thought I’d be running 5Ks never mind coming in 2nd in my age group? I am quite proud of that accomplishment.
2018 is shaping up to be an exciting running year. I am registered for my 9th and 10th full marathon. On August 26th, I will run the inaugural New England Green River Marathon, a point to point course from Marlboro, VT to Greenfield, MA. After a few years of throwing my name in the lottery, I was finally selected to run the Marine Corps Marathon. I will run the 43rd MCM on October 28th.
I also signed up to work with a new running coach. My amazing running coach, Laura, suggested I talk with her friend, an accomplished trail runner, who also coaches. Laura thought she might be better equipped to coach me in running the back to back marathons. I was reluctant because Laura is amazing and has really guided me through the last few years. She assured me this was just a nudge to get me out of my comfort zone and try something new.
I started this running thing over 10 years ago as a challenge to myself. As a new mom strapped for time, running seemed the perfect activity for me as I tried to lose weight, become more energetic, and develop the ability to keep up with my already active child. I never imagined where running would take me. As I began to run longer distances, I have often suspected that I am holding myself back from my full potential. I am ready to dig deeper to find out what I am really able to accomplish. I have already accomplished more physically than I ever imagined was possible. I truly never believed this body could run a 10 minute mile or less than that. It seemed ridiculous at one time to think of myself running a mile never mind a marathon. I have proven myself wrong time and time again. So what if I stop saying I can’t for a little while and stop fearing the temporary burning in my lungs and legs? What will happen? I will never know until I try.
I am a bit nervous of this can of worms I opened in my initial conversation with this new coach, but it is part of the reason why I treat myself to the expertise of a coach. It may seem frivolous or ridiculous that I would pay someone to coach me for a marathon. I mean as someone kindly pointed out, I am not going to win the race! Perhaps I will never win a race, but in my opinion I win every time I cross a finish line or even complete a day to day run. Whatever crabby person. It is my gift to myself to work with a coach for both accountability and education. My goal is actually not to win the race, but to race better, run injury free, and improve MY skills.
I will be 45 in August. This is a tough birthday for me. I have never felt time closing in like I do right now. I wasted so much time before I had Carlos being sedentary and living a rather unhealthy lifestyle. I was moody and miserable. I’m none of that anymore, and I think only about embracing each day to make it more awesome than the day before. I want to do all the things, go everywhere, explore, engage with interesting people, learn new skills, try new activities, and live really live! My dream is to live to be a really old age, but with my mind and body intact. I feel like now is the time to start pushing myself again to see what I am capable of doing. I may never be able to qualify for Boston, but that’s not the only running goal I have.
Trail running and racing fascinates me as do ultra marathons. Running a faster 5K would be a huge accomplishment. The word triathlon swirls around my brain sometimes as does duathlon. For many years now, I have talked about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro when I turn 50. I want to be in good shape when I do (and I will). I want to be in the senior olympics in my 90s. I want to mentor senior athletes when I’m 100. Right now I really want to feel fitter and develop some much needed muscle tone and core strength. This just scratches the surface of my goals.
What are your goals, running or other goals?