Training Doesn’t Always Have To Be Perfect + Riding The Wave

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.

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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.

 

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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!

Meijer Festival of Races-National Cherry Festival

Happy Monday!  We had an awesome weekend over here.  It’s pretty hard to keep track of us lately, but we are back in Michigan and at the lake, after a week in Rhinelander, WI.

For several years now we have done our best to make it to the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, MI.  If you have never been, Traverse City is one magical place.  It has a small town vibe mixed with just enough city life to be the perfect combo.  The area prides itself on fresh and healthy foods as well as dozens of wineries and breweries.  Seated on a bay of Lake Michigan, it is the ultimate “Inland Sea”.  The water is crystal clear and is reminiscent of the Caribbean.  It is truly a vacationer’s destination.

The climate here is just perfect for growing delicious cherries and Traverse hosts a huge National Cherry Festival each summer.  This week long celebration starts on a Saturday with opening ceremonies and airshows, continues with festivities and multiple parades all week, and then ends the following Saturday with a Festival of Races, huge Grand Royale Parade and fireworks. 

My return to racing several years ago began at the Cherry Festival.  It was ideal for me schedule-wise because my parents were able to drop me off at the start on their way to secure a spot for the parade.  Afterward, I was able to come join my entire extended family for the parade and other festivities. 

This year we made a return to the races and opted for the 15k.  We had the option of a 5k, 10k, 15k, or half marathon.  We were lazy and didn’t want to do the early start for the half marathon but I would absolutely try that next year.  I also just love the 15k distance and it is a rare breed in the racing world. 

We were lucky enough to do this race with several friends and a few athletes I have been working with who are training for marathons.

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The races go off in waves approximately 10-15 minutes apart from each other.  This was great because unlike Grandma’s Marathon, there were plenty of porta-potties and as each event took off, the lines got smaller and smaller. 

Why I love this race:  It is a perfect medium sized race.  Everything is well planned and laid out.  The course is gorgeous and the runners all take this pretty seriously.  It follows one side of the peninsula for half of the race and then goes back up the other side for the remainder.  The final mile spits you out on the parade route where onlookers eagerly cheer you on as if you were running a major marathon. I even heard someone call out for me by my maiden name.  Imagine my surprise when I realized it was my brother’s hockey coach from almost 30 years ago!

What I hate about this race:  Quite simply, Mt. McKinley  McKinley hill is a beast and it literally makes you nauseous.  Just about halfway through the race, you cut across the peninsula and the only way to do so is by crossing this hill. On the bright side, the local winery at the top is ready to hand out water (as are other locals who make their own aid stations at the end of their driveways).  On the downside, going down the hill is almost more treacherous as the uphill portion.  I nearly tripped over my own feet as I shuffled down.

Overall:  The weather was nearly perfect with cloudy skies, a bit of a gusty wind, and a chill to the air.  I pushed myself just a bit but played it safe because I knew I had my baby waiting to see me and other athletes to look out for at the finish.  I was happy with my finish and felt that I ran strong, especially considering that I pushed Mary in a running stroller all last week (follow up on this later in the week). 

This race actually attracts some pretty speedy runners.  I have always had a good run here but always came up fruitless.  Imagine my surprise when I went to see my results and found out that I placed second in my age group!  There really is something to be said for getting older (wink, wink)!

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Shout out to Simple Hydration for letting me represent at yet another successful race!

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I hope everyone had a great weekend.  A special thanks for running with me and congrats to Rock, Pat, and Jennifer.  And a shoutout to Darcy, Pete and Mike who I met up with along the course and at the finish.

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Heading home and catching some parade on the way.