As you know, one of my three main goals for 2022 is to do a lot of running. Turns out I’m doing that. In the month of April, I ran a total of 103 miles, which is potentially the most miles I’ve run in a month since I did the one and only marathon, The Big Sur Marathon, I’ve ever done, way back in 2010.
Run the miles in the rain
I’m writing this post on a Saturday afternoon on a very, very rainy day. This morning, I met two of my run buddies who are training for Grandma’s Marathon that will be on June 18, 2022. We met up at 7:30am to get in a slow warmup run of 3 miles. Our goal was to get our total miles for today up to 16, as Coach Danny had that on the marathon plan.
Are you wondering if I plan to do a marathon?
Given how much I am running these days, that would be an appropriate question. The answer is a resounding no. At this moment in time, my body really struggles when I hit miles over 14. Meaning my system says, “Slow down. Why are you still running?” This happens pretty consistently. I interpret this as my body wisdom telling me to stick to half marathons and ten mile races. Even 10K’s are an excellent choice for me.
That said, I am persistent and I like challenges, so here I am doing distances longer than 14 miles on a regular basis this year. I took up this challenge because I’m a Team Lead for the Run Minnesota Spring Marathon Training Program. In taking on this responsibility I agreed to run up to 17 or 18 miles with the 12+ marathon pace group.
Run 16 miles
On the training plan for this morning was rain or shine to run 16 miles. Four of us in the 12 mile pace group signed up to run the Get In Gear Half Marathon at 9am. That meant we needed and wanted to get an additional 3 miles done. We wisely opted for doing the 3 extra miles before the Get In Gear started at 9am. Easier to do the extra miles as a warm up than do them after we’d run a half marathon.
Tough cookies in the rain
As our luck would have it, it was 50 degrees Fahrenheit, windy and pouring rain at 7:30am. We are tough cookies and we had a plan so we got out of our cars and did those 3 miles. Getting completely drenched from head to toe in a matter of minutes. Luckily we were moving so we warmed up quickly. In fact, after the 3 miles was done, all of us took off a layer and left that in our cars.
Make the run fun
Another run-friend met us after the extra miles. Jenny joined us in the rain for the half marathon race. Jenny is one of my COVID-19 run colleagues and we run pretty much at the same pace, between 12 and 13 minute miles. Jenny is excellent at finding interesting routes for us to run and she is excellent to chat with as we run. Additionally she has great ideas for making the runs fun and engaging.
Gratitude for health
Today she started the Get In Gear race by stating that she was grateful for her good health and her fitness that gives her the strength and stamina to run a half marathon in the pouring rain. Then she talked with us about how she was thinking of ways to keep her energy up and her run positive and upbeat. She had the idea of smiling every time she saw a tree. We were running most of the race along the Mississippi River on closed-to-cars roads. The street is lined with endless, beautiful tall majestic trees. In other words, Jenny was planning to smile all 13.2 miles! That made the four of us laugh until our bellies hurt.
Smiling as you run
It led to talking about the power of smiling as smiling tricks the brain and then the body into being in a positive frame of mind. We all agreed to the bare minimum to smile every time we saw a mile marker as we ran. Right away this put us all in a good mood as we lined up soaking wet with all the other runners in the rain.
And we took off
The first couple of miles Kathryn, Tanya, Jenny and I met up with a few of our YWCA Run Intervals Thursday morning running friends, Jenne and Karrie, who are faster runners, so the first few miles were faster than I would have wanted, but it was still raining and I was cold so moving faster was a good way to warm up.
Finally Jenny and I realized we wouldn’t be able to continue this pace and we had hit the place where Jenne and Karrie were to turn off as they were doing the 10K race and the four of us were doing the half marathon. We bid them adieu and Jenny and I slowed down a bit. Kathryn and Tanya stayed with us for a few miles, but these two are serious runners, plus both are younger than me, so I knew they’d take off eventually.
Jenny needed to use the porta potty so that’s when Tanya and Kathryn carried on. I appreciated the rest while I waited. At this point we were at mile 8 and the rain had stopped. Bit by bit we were drying off. I ate another gu packet and mentally got focused again.
Hills along the course
The Get In Gear half marathon route is NOT flat! Funny how hills when running are so different from hills when biking. Miles 8 and 9 were hard. At mile 10 I knew it was time to speed up a little bit. The final pacer, who was to be the final person to cross the finish line, was just behind Jenny and me.
Pick up the pace the last few miles
Jenny and I had agreed that at the point that I wanted to increase my pace, I would do so. The last two miles I knew it was time. I mentally got fully into race mode. Meaning I increased my mental mantras: “I am strong. I love running. This is fun. Feel the body, notice how strong I am. Feel the Earth. Notice how connected I am. I am strong.”
Mantras carry me through the pain – lean into it
There’s an internal shift that happens when I get into race mode. I notice that instead of fighting the physical pain I might be feeling, I go into the pain. I embrace it. I feel it fully. On this race day, my right hip and right glute had started to ache. I mentally went into my hip and glute and felt the ache and hurt, magnifying it and allowing it.
The goal wasn’t to dissipate the ache and pain, but instead to genuinely feel it. To realize I can keep running despite the pain and ache. In fact, I can take energy from the pain. When I do this I notice that my body often loosens and finds more energy. The gu I ate helped with giving more energy for these last two miles.
Everyone else was finished with the race at this point. It was official, Jenny and I were the last two runners on the course. I was a bit ahead of Jenny and the pacer, so it was me and the road. No one was out due to the dismal weather, so it was a chance to be 100% with myself, my body and the environment.
The finish line
I got into it! The route is familiar and beautiful. I pushed myself. Just a little! As I neared the finish line I swung my arms faster and quickened my cadence. I plastered a smile on my face and I crossed that finish line with pure joy coursing through my body! Race #1 of the five I will do this spring, summer and fall was complete! My time was 2:54:05 (on my Garmin).
Tanya and Kathryn had finished in 2:42 and 2:29 respectively and they had stayed to cheer me and Jenny at the finish line! Seeing them at the end was a reminder that the running community is full of amazing humans who value the time and effort and connection of caring about one another. On a personal level, it was reassurance that I matter and that I’m connected to kind, fun, generous people who like me deeply care about their health and well-being.
Cheering for each other
I got my medal, and felt like I’d 100% earned it! I joined Tanya and Kathryn in cheering for Jenny as she too crossed the finish line!
We each got a bunch of bananas and some chips, good for the salt content! And we went to the GIG letters and a volunteer took photos of us with our medal and our huge smiles!
I am delighted to report that my blood sugars behaved in the best manner possible. The Activity setting on my Tandem t:slim insulin pump managed everything as close to perfect as a pump can do. I ate enough gu as I ran and my deep breathing and smiling kept my adrenaline in control.
All in all, race 1 of 5 big ones was a COMPLETE SUCCESS, rain and cold and all! Excellent reminder that when you set your mind to a goal, you CAN do it.
Thanks for reading and for being a member of my community. I am grateful to be connected to you.
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