When did life become so busy? Between work, training, and trying to get adequate rest, I feel as though there is time for little else these days. As a result, I feel terribly behind in other areas of my life, including writing. Alas, so goes the ebb and flow of life, and I can only hope that things will soon slow down again.
On the bright side, I ran two races last week, and both were a success. In spite of my recent feelings of sloth, heaviness, and generally being “off”, I experienced- enjoyed, even- my first Drake Relays “On the Roads” series, which included running the Grand Blue Mile and the Drake Relays Half Marathon. Both events were uniquely tough, but I feel good about my performance in each and the added confidence those races have given me as I enter my final month of training.
When I was in high school, the mile was an event reserved for the “distance runners” of the track team. My, how that is relative. I have run a mile race twice since graduating high school in 1997, including the Grand Blue Mile last Tuesday. Each of those times, running a single mile has felt like nothing short of a sprint. A “road mile” is quite different from a “track mile”, but it does not hurt any less. The Grand Blue Mile was open to anyone who wanted to enter, and included a championship race for elite athletes who are preparing to compete in London later this summer. I entered the women’s competitive division, which was recommended for women who anticipated completing the race in eight minutes or fewer.
I toed the starting line knowing that I was in for about six minutes of agony. As I looked around, I was brought back to high school for a moment, surrounded by intimidation. Only this time, I was a thirty-two-year-old woman in the midst of a bunch of fourteen-year-olds who I could tell were fast just by looking at them. I suppose some things never change.
When the starting gun went off, my competitors and I took off down the road. Within the first quarter of a mile, I couldn’t tell which were burning more- my legs or my lungs. I reached the half mile mark in 3:02- a pretty quick clip for me, and I knew there was a slim chance of being able to keep it up. I made the two turns of the race and headed toward the finish line. I crossed in 6:22… a good chunk behind my goal of a sub-6:00 mile, but not a horrible time, considering I have been training to run more than sixty times the distance. And, as my mother never fails to point out, I’m “not eighteen anymore”.
I had four days to recover from the slight shock my body experienced in having to produce speed (a relative term, of course, particularly in comparison to the aforementioned fourteen-year-olds who finished the same race more than a full minute ahead of me) before I toed my next starting line on Saturday morning at the Drake Relays Half Marathon. The weather was crummy, I hadn’t slept well the previous two nights, and I had doubts about even coming near my goal of a sub-1:45 half marathon, so I decided to see what the day would bring. I felt fortunate to have a good friend and training partner out on the course with me, as well as two good friends who had come down from Minneapolis to cheer. Thanks, ladies!
Saturday’s half marathon turned out to be one of the more difficult races I have ever run- the course was fairly rolling and had numerous twists and turns, which made running the tangents awfully difficult. While I didn’t quite reach my goal, I came damn close, finishing in 1:45:19- a pace of 8:03 per mile, and a personal record by more than four minutes. I was ecstatic!
Ironically, I missed my goal in both races last week by about twenty seconds. Hmmm… quite telling, I think, of which race is a better fit for me.
I am now down to the final three weeks of hard training before I begin my taper. It is hard to believe that five months have gone by since I started training for this ultramarathon, and while I still do not feel ready, I have a renewed sense of confidence following last week’s events. I still carry the extra pounds that seem to have materialized out of nowhere, and my feet feel like hamburger more often than not these days, but clearly I have been doing something right during this time. My goals for the next five weeks are to stay healthy, keep my focus, get a few more long, exhausting, “empty”-inducing runs in, and rest as much as I can. Thirty-one days days remain until June 2nd. I can do this!
Thank you for reading!