Serious Headwinds in the Second Half of 2021
Wow, it's been so long since I wrote ANYTHING! I think about writing but I just can't get it done on paper or on screen. It has been all in my head for all these months, until today. (I had to log in to send an invoice and said today is the day I am going to write!) So much has happened since my long trek in Kentucky in late April! Once training picked back up in mid-to-late May for the Jack & Jill Downhill Marathon (in July), we just hit the ground running in every sense of the word. We were crazy busy preparing for our youth summer running camps and then to top it off, we picked up a side job of timing school cross country races and road races. Wow, it's now late October and what a wild 6 months it has been. We have experienced and learned so much during this time and it has been a wonderful, fulfilling time in life. It has been so much fun operating our own youth running camps. The kids were amazing to work with and it was so fun because we were outside running and sweating like crazy. Some of the weeks we had summer camp, the weather went from a stifling, sunny 102 degrees to 65 degrees and rain on Friday. But we loved it. All of it. It was so much fun to train the kids and teach the kids everything we know about running in such a condensed period of time. We did so many fun activities: timed runs, race the coach (we got our butts kicked by these kids 30 years our junior!), serious and goofy-activity relays (spin around 7 times, do some jumping jacks, how about some push-ups too) and then run a 100m sprint?! We thoroughly enjoyed operating our own camps. I wish I could explain how truly rewarding it is to dream up your own thing and then just execute it. And the icing on the cake was that the kids and their parents seemed to really enjoy it and were actually thanking US. What a gift. Seriously, it was one of the most enjoyable things I have done with my time. This is why having your own business is rewarding. I loved that we could create our OWN work and frankly, Pat and I make a great team! We were thoroughly exhausted by the end of the week but we absolutely loved it!
As noted, we both started working behind the scenes for a race timing company this summer and our weekends have been jam packed since then. We always wanted to know how to do this kind of work but the pandemic had a way of delaying this work for us as there were not many road races in 2020. It has been enjoyable learning the ropes of this job. What I personally love about it is that we get to travel to places and be part of the event and meet awesome people who pretty much love running! I love that it is a mix of physical and technical work. It feels great to sweat and hustle (not afraid of any of that & that's good for marathon training!) and then you get to watch the pain and joy of the runners as they cross the finish line. I get it, I get them and it's why I love it. I don't even know everything there is to know yet (but I will) and it is fun and fast-paced work where you are outside! Who doesn't love to be outside?!? It is so much better than being stuck in some office cubical (which I spent too many years of my life doing)! Sometimes it is a really long day (where you are hungry, thirsty and tired) but it always feels fulfilling and we often need a nap afterwards (LOL)!
So due to all of this additional work of setting up the summer camps, training wasn't all that I wanted it to be during the warmer months but I pretty much slogged along following the same routine (not ideal) just to get me to another marathon in one piece. We ran so many intervals during the 3 weeks of summer camp! OMG, I was so incredibly sore trying to run a sub 20 second 100m dash. (When I was 15, I could run it in 14 seconds.) My actual marathon wasn't bad, but I intentionally slowed down in the later miles once I realized I wouldn't run a sub 4:00 marathon. The Jack and Jill Downhill Marathon was so incredibly beautiful! However, my Garmin also told me it was my longest run ever at 26.85 miles so clearly I did not run the tangents well at all. Don't ask me how this happened considering I pretty much ran in a straight line though. But anyways, I loved the race nevertheless. I was supposed to run this in 2020, so better late than never! We made a nice family vacation out of it thoroughly exploring Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls and Olympic National Park.
Next up was the Twin Cities Marathon in early October... I was supposed to run this race in 2020 as well. Pat and I made the trek to Minnesota on a Saturday morning, ran the marathon on Sunday morning and flew home Sunday night. A typical trek for a 50-stater like myself... in one day and out the next. No rest for the weary! But again, this is absolutely WHY I love it! It is so much fun to be on the go, pushing the limits of endurance in more ways than one and just overcoming ALL OF IT and persevering. It's like a marathon wrapped around the marathon. By the time it is all said and done by the end of the weekend, I am completely spent. I have pushed myself to points even I didn't think I could handle but then I do it and I am just wowed by all of it. It brings me a deep sense of satisfaction - something I just cannot replicate in any other area of my life. It has to be this way. It has to be THIS HARD or else the reward is just not so great. It absolutely has to be a mix of physical and mental endurance or it is not complex enough for me. I have to be brought to the brink of human physical exhaustion and then my internal light, the happiness within my heart is just knowing that I did it. I love that part. It's what mentally keeps me going when I have had more than enough. The marathon itself wasn't a bad run. When I was running, I was in the 8's and 9's, and even 7's for the first 2 miles! Of course I got tired in the later miles so I used the water stops to pause and ensure I consumed plenty of Gatorade and water so I lost a decent amount of time there with 2 bathroom stops. The first few water stops were fairly far apart (mile 2.7 and mile 5.3) so not ideal on a warm sunny day. Thankfully the sun eventually went away but it was in the high 50's, low 60's by the end of the race. Again, I just enjoy the scenery. The course was beautiful around the lakes and the amount of spectators was just like BOSTON believe it or not! The entire course was lined with people and beautiful dogs! I saw so many dogs that looked just like Summit! I even got to pet one of them after the finish line while I was looking for Pat. At the end of the race, we took a picture of the "RUN HAPPY" letters and seriously, that's what it is all about. State #30 was complete and I was happy. I didn't really care about my time (once it's after 4:00 hours). I just want to finish it. Even though I was so exhausted, had a headache and was sore as can be, we walked 4 miles (no kidding) around the Mall of America after the race. I couldn't take a shower so I just changed in the family bathroom and washed up as best I could. We walked all around that mall and drank a shake and eventually ate. By the end of the day, I had over 63,000 steps! The beautiful thing about this is getting all this lactic acid out of my legs helped me recover so much quicker. Within days, I was speeding along again, running in the low 9's.
I am on a mission with my new training cycle now. I realized that I just kind of slogged along for 6 months (plus I hate running in the summer heat) but I really want to get back to flying in my marathons again like I did in late 2018 and early 2019. So of course I KNOW exactly what I have to do - I just have to EXECUTE the plan! I need to crank up some longer lactate threshold runs and make myself hit good paces and hold that longer so I can easily do that in a marathon after tapering. It feels great to run this hard again and for this long. I'm currently logging 50 miles a week and to even get to that point with a rest day or two, I'm running 8-11 miles per day. It's a lot and I'm tired by 7pm and go to sleep by 9pm, but I don't care because I need the rest. I feel strong and in control. I'm going to feel great for my next marathon after resting too. I am excited again and I can't wait. I kind of wish my next marathon was sooner!
So that's what we have been up to...it's been a crazy, hectic time but we have dived into so many other aspects of running. Eventually, we will direct some races of our own and we are in the planning stages of that now for next year hopefully. I also recently found out that I was selected to be the assistant track coach for a local high school for the winter and spring seasons. I know I will do a great job and I appreciate the opportunity to teach, train and inspire kids. So until next time, let's see how marathon #33 goes. I am fully expecting it to be completely awesome. The weather should be cool/cold and that's perfect for racing and the course will be fairly flat. I am gearing myself up to run a PR. I can feel it already. I am feeling good and I am due to run the course in record time. I know I can do it and this time, my training has me totally believing in it! Remember what I always say, "Train Hard, Race Easier" and read the blog again if you need to!