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Archive for April, 2012

Running in Colorado has its perks. Most of the time this lends to faster times during sea level runs, but I was reminded that other factors go into the race day experience. I haven’t ventured out of Colorado for any races until this past weekend when I went to Nashville to run the Country Music 1/2 Marathon. We drove parts of the course the day before and I noticed very quickly how hilly it was. Hills and altitude training do not equate however come race day, but I was aware of this and knew I couldn’t let myself be ignorant of what was in store.

Race morning came and I knew some of the basics I had to accomplish before heading to the start line. Bathroom line 40 minutes in advance…warm up with strides…last sips of water…get to the front of my corral. Things were going smoothly and not only did I manage to get to the front of my corral, but because I was in the first corral I got to hang with some pretty amazing elite athletes. I felt a little out of my realm, but knew this was where I needed to be to break out of the crowds and find my stride early on. No sooner had they pulled the starting line rope up and gave the one minute warning did my right quad get an insanely intense cramp. You have got to be kidding me, I thought to myself. I started stretching it and rubbing it as vigorously as I could to get it to release. I have never had issues with quad cramping before. The gun went off and I started up the first of many hills. Within the first steps both quads seized and I wasn’t sure what to do. I had never dealt with this before and wasn’t sure if they were going to subside with more running or get worse. I figured I might as well keep running and see which way it went.

Two miles in and they felt like bricks of muscles on fire. I didn’t want to do long-term damage and the first thoughts of dropping out of the race came into my head. Is it smart or incredibly stupid to keep going? I kept going. Miles three through six were a test of will and spirit just to keep one foot going in front of the other. One mile at a time. Just one mile at a time, I kept telling myself. By mile eight the sun had drained my body and my legs had drained my soul. My times had slipped to nearly a minute greater per mile than my starting pace and I came to the realization that my goal of a sub-7:30 pace simply would not happen this time.

Then, I rounded into mile nine and a crowd of street supporters blanketed the course pouring water on us and cheering as loudly as they could. For nearly a solid mile I experienced some of the best race course support I’ve ever seen. My spirits lifted and I was soaked from head to toe – not normally something I would do on race day, but the heat had just about won. Miles 9-13.1 were a sheer testament of how far you can go when you know people are supporting you and cheering you on. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, and kept thinking about how much closer that was bringing me to the finish line. The hills kept coming and the heat was nearly unbearable, but each mile averaged back to my goal pace with a finishing pace of 5:55 – a pace I had never seen on my Garmin before. I crossed the finish line, had a brief moment of no light, and the sudden urge to vomit sending my body into convulsions, but I couldn’t have been happier than that moment in time. I finished.

It’s easy to be disappointed that I didn’t hit my goal pace, but looking back I am not only proud of what I managed to accomplish but I learned a great deal from it as well, and feel that I am better armed with greater mental toughness for the next race. I came back to Colorado excited to hit the pavement and looking at every run as a new challenge. I came back from one of the toughest races (and runs) I’ve ever experienced. It took everything I had, and then some, but there was still just enough left.

Country Music 1/2 Marathon Official Results

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Dear Diary,

It’s been a while. I’ve been wrapped up in my own little world, trying to fight off the evil fortresses of the hectic schedules of work, home, & school. I’ve thought about you often, but find other things to fill my days and nights. I collapse into bed, sinking into the oblivion of a hopeful, quiet night of rest. I hear the world pounding through my head reinforcing the ability I have to overthink. It tells me that I can only do so much, that I can only be so much, that I will only know so much. It tries to put walls around my heart and block out what it considers nonsense, but what drives me to believe in more than myself.

The world tries to tell me what to do every day. It tells me who I’m supposed to be, what I’m supposed to look like, how I’m supposed to act. It tries to form me into the molds that others have created. It tries to grow my brain and shrink my soul. But every morning when I head out into the darkness, I prove it wrong. I don’t let it determine what I can and cannot do. I don’t let it tell me I don’t have the strength or the courage to be me. I don’t let it make me who it thinks I should be. I won’t let it tell me that I can’t believe in myself.

I escape in the early morning hours to balance out my world. Some use running as a way to sort through things, to think, to work out problems. I use running to stop and be still. I think of nothing but how the moon reflects off the roads, the sounds my feet make with every strike, or the feeling of my heart beating in my chest. It’s quiet. It’s dark. It’s perfect.

Dear Diary…

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