I feel like I've got my running mojo back. Even though--or maybe because--I spent the first half of this year dealing with on and off again injuries, I'm having fun with running again. Let's be real--I will ALWAYS be concerned with my times, but I'm also relaxing enough to (maybe, kinda, sort of) be okay if I don't go out and kill every race.
With that in mind, yesterday I ran the 2014 Greensboro marathon. I did it without wearing a watch. My plan was to run the miles based on how I felt, walking if and when needed with the vague goal of coming in under four hours. Holding with tradition, I made a last-minute decision to run the race, signing up on Tuesday, so I wasn't especially trained for a marathon. I knew I could do the distance but wasn't sure at what pace--and that was okay.
Well, okay until I caught up with the 3:35 pace group at mile 10. Then my mind clamped down on getting a Boston Qualifying (BQ) finish which meant I needed to run better than a 3:45. The new plan became to hang onto the pace group for as long as I could so that when I slowed, I'd have time to spare.
And that's exactly what happened. I stayed with the group until mile 21 (actually, by that time it was just me and the pacer--everyone else had fallen off thanks to a warm day and hilly course). Then the hills got to me and I slowed my pace and walked on and off until the end. I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure the 3:40 pace group didn't catch me, so maybe I'm not quite as zen as I like to think I am. :) Overall though, the course was challenging but beautiful and while I struggled in the beginning and end, for the most part I was just happy to be outside running in beautiful weather in the town I love with like-minded people. I finished with a 3:37:34.
And I was completely inspired by Greensboro runner Jeff Keezer. The wheels fell off for Jeff at mile 11 and unless you're a marathoner, it's difficult to grasp the heart-wrenching implications of that statement. Knowing you just hit your wall, your body is collapsing and you still have 15 more hilly, hot miles to go. Jeff threw aside his ego and gutted it out, staying on the course as long as it took to get the job done. It was an absolute privilege to cheer him across the finish line.
Every runner faces--and conquers--their own unique set of challenges.It's probably what I love most about the sport. There were 215 runners who completed yesterday's marathon and even though we all ran the same course, I guarantee you there are 215 individual stories of pain, perseverance and triumph floating around out there.