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Archive for March, 2012

I was talking with a colleague at work the other day – his wife wants to get back into running and he was asking me about the marathons I’ve run and said “Isn’t a marathon like 27 miles?”. I think he’s the first person to ever over-guess the marathon distance. To many, running any distance is tiring and pointless. Running isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. Once you get past the 10k distance it’s all a wash anyway, right? Not.

I reminisced back to the inaugural Colfax Marathon a few years ago. I was excited to run it. I had trained better than I had previously and enjoyed being a part of an inaugural event in Colorado. However, it was still running 26.2 miles on Colfax…or was it? I got to the half-way point through City Park and was keeping a consistent pace, felt great and was enjoying the race quite a bit. I was enjoying it until I got through City Park and realized that according to the mile markers and pace watch my mile pace “enjoying” City Park increased to a whopping 13 min/mile pace. My husband was there to cheer me on as I exited City Park and all I could say while looking blankly and somewhat disappointed was “It’s not marked correctly”.

The brain games from there through the remaining 13.1 miles tore me up. All I could think about was how I hoped that they just mismarked the mileage, but that it would all equate in the end. However, with each approaching mile marker the same sinking feeling of disappointment sank in at how horrible my pace was getting. I started believing the thoughts in my head about how slow I must really be going. By the time I reached the finish line I was flat out bummed. It was not the pace I trained for and knew I could run.

The next day in the paper, lo and behold, there was an article about the Colfax Marathon and how it was mis-marked by a 1/2 mile through City Park. The marathon runners actually ran 26.7 miles (lucky us). I knew I hadn’t lost my mind, but at the same time I couldn’t overcome it during the race and my pace and mental state on race day were impacted more than they should have been. The Colfax Marathon has done a tremendous job of overcoming the initial obstacles and have really created a great event since.

There may be days where things just don’t go as planned. Have confidence in your training plan, your support teams, and most importantly yourself. You may not be running a marathon, but you still need to keep your head in the game.

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Friday was poised to be another beautiful Colorado day with temps in the upper 70s. Wow. No complaints here, and no leaving my Brooks whining in the corner of my office. We were going outside!

I started walking down the newly found path I was quickly becoming familiar with since I’d walked it every day last week. But I stopped when I came to where the path divided and split into a dirt path on the left and the same concrete path I’d been taking on the right. Who knew that someone who ran the same route every morning would actually venture from the norm and want to see what was around the corner? I couldn’t resist. I turned left and headed down the dirt path. I couldn’t see around the corner, but every corner I turned was brilliantly clad in sunshine and earth. I was amazed at this hidden trail that seemed to emerge from nowhere. I quickly took pictures and posted to Facebook to share with friends and family and those on campus I knew would love this little enchanted route.

The further I walked the more gasping the scenery became. I crested the top of the path and could see mountain peaks from range to range. Immediately I wished I was in some running shorts instead of a Calvin Klein skirt.

I knew my long run the next morning would be in the dark at 4AM, so I soaked up every ounce of sunshine and warmth to take with me the next morning. With the time change not only would it be dark the whole 12 miles, but it would be a little harder to wake up. I seem to adjust not-so-well to time changes. I woke up, hit the road, and thought about the scenery I stumbled on the day before. I stepped up the pace, got in my groove, and had a song or two to keep me company.

I love to get lost in the outdoors. I think that’s why I enjoy my long runs so much. It’s a chance to get out of the norm, create new memories, and venture onto new paths – only sometimes it doesn’t take a long run to do so…just a lunchtime walk.

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Another 75 degree day in Colorado and my spare pair of Brooks was taunting me in my office. They were staring at me as if to ask “What is wrong with you? Why would you leave us sitting in the corner with only a glimpse of sunlight bouncing off the filing cabinet and onto the floor, as if to smirk at us in the shadows?” I know ~ a bit dramatic, aren’t they? It didn’t take long before I realized how wrong it was of me to ignore their cries for the open road, so I obliged. I grabbed my sandwich and apple, laced up my shoes, and headed out the door.  Heck, I was even going to take the whole hour for lunch.

I wasn’t disappointed by the warm Colorado day, which consumed me with its blue skies and gentle breeze. I found a little path I happened to stumble across one day driving home. I decided to step off the beaten path and wander around for a while. Nestled among the trees and beside a quiet stream was a route that seemed to wind around in all directions. The sounds of the street dissolved and I quickly drifted into thoughts of flip flops and sun dresses, which can put any girl into a whimsically happy mood. The stress of the day disintegrated as if it never existed and I was caught up in nothing but the sunshine.

A runner’s high while walking? You bet. I’m even thinking of doing repeats.

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I enjoyed getting down to sea level for a week of running. Running in a new city always brings a bit of anxiety to my world since most mornings I’m up to run well before the sun even thinks about peaking over the horizon. Throw in some unknown territory and a city along the ocean and running becomes more a fear of making sure I can out run the person I keep imagining is chasing me.

On our first night in San Diego, my husband and I decided to venture on a little walk to scope out our running path for the next morning. We walked around the convention center downtown and went atop the massive structure to peer over the view and see if we could spot some good running paths. Dusk was settling in and I looked down, pointed and almost shouted “Hey look! There are runners down there!” Lo and behold, right before our very eyes a running group was getting ready to head off into the sunset. I thought about flailing my arms and yelling at them to hold up, but in a brief moment of perspective we decided to run down the 12 flights of stairs as quickly as possible to catch them before they left on their trot. We made it down to the group, a bit out of breath and excited, and quickly asked if they were locals and gathered intel on the best routes to run. I was so excited I could hardly stand it and in a moment of mental lapse told my husband “Hey, we should go run with them now”. Instead, we soaked up the great advice on routes, sun rise times, and things to know when running in San Diego. I thought we had made out great, but found it slightly charming when one of the older gentlemen in the group said “Hey, did you hear that? She called us runners!” I smiled and we mosied on our way.

My last day in San Diego I wanted to hit the path before the San Diego 1/2 Marathon got rolling. I was out and back from a long run in plenty of time to catch the start of the race. Along my route, and in the dark wee hours of the morning (thank you time change) I stumbled across a few water stations on the race course. The volunteers cheered me on and even offered me something to drink. What a great group of people – I thought to myself. They were out on the course long before any other runners, and yet they were offering up some strange runner on a path behind them something to drink. Volunteers play a huge part in any race. For many of us they can be the group that makes or breaks a certain mileage point. Their cheers of encouragement, offering of beverages and gels, and time on the course (which I dare say is longer than any of us are on there) are what come from a unique subset of individuals.  

So here’s to you race course volunteers – THANK YOU – for getting up earlier than us on race day, freezing in the cold, rain, snow or otherwise, and doing everything in your power to compliment the time and effort us runners have put into getting to the start line and making it through to the end. May we return your smiles, thank you for the gift of nourishment and encouragement, and continue to see you on race day!

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