This summer has already been a whirlwind for us. The first half of June was spent preparing for our 2 year old’s first dance recital. That was a crazy foretaste of what our lives will like be in a few years as our kids grow, and sports and other activities take over. Rock was in NYC until the end of June and that meant the majority of my runs were on the treadmill while children took naps.
Every summer for the past few years Rock and I have participated in Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival of Races. I realized this year that of all the races we have done, this is the only one we make a point to sign up for. The Cherry Festival is a really fun event for all ages and their races are beautiful and well organized. Despite the fact that Rock had been logging 30,000-40,000 steps each day in NYC but not always having a chance to get in a run and my lack of hitting the pavement, we decided we would do the half marathon again.
We also convinced my brother-in-law to come join us. He had done his first half marathon in May and finished just under 2 hours. Shortly after, we discussed his goal of aiming for a 1:50 half and decided that with some smart training, it could be a potential A goal for this particular race. I created a plan for him and we worked out some game plans to get him through race day.
The week before the race, Rock and I decided that regardless of how little actual training we had done, we needed to get at least 10 miles in before race day. I had been logging daily 7 mile runs, but hadn’t set foot in the hot summer conditions yet. Obviously, we picked a day when the temps were to hit the mid 90’s. By the time we dropped the girls off at daycare and started, the air was already soupy. I knew it was only a matter of time before things fell apart.
Fell apart they did. At mile 5 we stopped for a water break and by mile 6, I was down to taking a break every half mile. I was dehydrated and felt ill. I made it home, but was left feeling pretty defeated.
Then we left for our annual week in Northern Wisconsin where just about everything I ate was fried and every run was done pushing our double stroller up and down hills in the hot summer heat. Things were not looking good!
Friday night we arrived home with our bellies full of the only fast food we could find along the interstate, leaving me up at 3:30am with heartburn. Not exactly the ideal pre-race dinner!
An hour later we were up and fueling again, ready to hit the high school where buses were waiting to ship us out to the Old Mission Peninsula where the race would start at a winery.
I would be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous. I was beyond nervous. I knew that my body could handle 13 miles. I love double digit runs. However, that 10 miler the week before was really playing hard in the back of my mind and race day was going to be relatively warm. While it was 50 degrees when we started, I knew it was going to climb by 20 degrees over the next two hours.
The first two and a half miles wove up and down through dirt paths of local cherry orchards, before spitting us out on the road that runs along West Grand Traverse Bay. From here we followed the bay for the next several miles. The view is beautiful and the homes along the water are quite spectacular.
I felt good, but noticed that the heat was getting to me and I was waiting to see when my body would fall apart like before. I had a mile where I started to feel like I was fading and feared the end was near. Then I began to feel a renewed strength in my legs and my pace slowly increased.
I kept assessing how I was feeling, but at times I was reading into it too much. I was trying to find the negativity. Once I realized this, I worked to clear my head. I turned my music up and just let my body settle in. I had done this distance many times. In the past, I was in better shape or more prepared, but my body and mind knew how to do this.
I forgot that every mile can be so different. Some miles will feel great. Other miles, your body will struggle. There will be miles where your mind tries to fool you into giving up. And there will be miles where you are ready to tackle just about anything. The key is, you can’t let any particular mile take over your race. You have to remember that things will change. The good will come with bad. The bad will eventually wash away.
When I remembered this, my mind gave my body renewed strength. I had no idea where I was in the pack of runners, but I knew I would be okay and I decided to stop worrying about everyone else around me, and just run the rest of that race.
I crossed the finish line surprisingly better than I had expected. When the results were posted I was walking to the car and happened to look on my phone. I was shocked to see that I had finished 26th for the women and 3rd in my age group. What a pleasant surprise!
You never know what might come of your training. There might be injuries or other setbacks. Life can get in the way. The key is to do the best with what you have. Make it work and then go forward on race day and trust your body. Let your mind trust you. Training will rarely be ideal. That doesn’t mean that your race can’t have great results. Roll with the wave and you never know where you will come out at the end.
I also have to give a huge congrats to my brother-in-law who finished with a 12 minute PR in his second half marathon ever. He’s seriously a rockstar!