To be perfectly honest, I was nervous about my ability to race a marathon this fall up until about 3 weeks pre race. This training block had a shaky start coming off of a 10 week research trip to Malawi (where running was a bit against the cultural grain) and a disappointing 25k race in May. As the weeks of training went on and I still wasn’t feeling that “pop” in my legs and each run was challenging to hit pace, it was all I could do not to get discouraged. I understood what it would mean to have a short training block and how bad it would feel getting my racing legs back, but it can be very different acknowledging this to be a fact and having to cope with it on a daily basis. Every time I started to get discouraged, I went looking for a mantra to use to keep going through the motions of the work. Some of the ones I came across were “Life begins just on the other side of your comfort zone” by Ken Chlouber, founder of the Leadville 100 and “Find a way” spoken by Diana Nyad just after completing her record breaking swim. Knowing that every time I gritted out another track workout or pushed harder at a tempo run and it felt awful, I was getting that much closer to a breakthrough.
It finally clicked for me about a month ago, the week that I finally completed the track workout that I had been unable to complete every time I tried in previous marathon trainings. Those blasted 2 mile track repeats with tempos in between finally felt doable, on the verge of “easy”. From there I just gave it everything I had and trusted that my strategy this year, more speed and less long slow distance (the short training block didn’t allow me to get in as many epic long runs as I have done previously) will pay off.
At the Twin Cities Marathon, I was prepared for a cold, rainy race where I would have to work hard battling the rolling hills and keeping focused for 3 hours. As fate would have it, race morning broke with sunny skies and perfect temps. Throughout the course we were treated to beautiful fall colors, lake views and the Mississippi river as we ran from Minneapolis to St. Paul. The first half I surprised myself with how easy and relaxed I was feeling at about 15 sec per mile faster than my plan. Once I hit 15 I knew I had the potential to PR and just started digging. It was fun to be finally testing my legs to their limits, even when the big hills hit at mile 20 it was weirdly satisfying to feel my legs beginning to fatigue. Cruising down Summit Ave I recalled my previous races and how much better my legs were feeling, and just kept giving more. Crossing the finish line with a 3 minute PR I was immediately fired up for racing again. I have found that with every race I learn more about myself, and I am looking forward to more growth and faster PR’s in 2014. Next up, Boston.
*Special shout out to UR SPORTSWEAR for being an awesome sponsor and keeping me outfitted in great running gear. It was awesome to hear “Go UR girl!” shouted to me throughout the race now that we have such a great looking racing singlet to pair with the always awesome Just Rock shorts. My non chafed post marathon legs thanks you 😉