I have done some serious running during the month of August as I continue to prepare for the Twin Cities Marathon in October. My long runs are now deep into the double digits, and I ran not one, but two, half marathons this month. I’ve had a few minor tweeks to contend with but for the most part I have been injury-free and running some of my best times. I have settled on my nutrition plan and have road tested all of the right accessories and energy gels. I log a lot of miles weekly to prepare for the big day, but It's been the half marathons, the race atmosphere, that have fueled my passion.
The first half marathon, held on August 7th, was Minnesota’s green race, the Urban Wildland Half Marathon, benefitting the Wood Lake Nature Center in Ritchfield. I was a little nervous at the start line because I hadn’t raced in a while, but once the race kicked off and I got into my rhythm it was on! Running through the streets of Ritchfield with hundreds of other enthusiastic runners was incredibly fun. The weather was not great for a race (hot, humid, scattered showers) but the sideline supporters were amazing. The streets were lined with children in wagons, loudly cheering supporters and a ton of volunteers handing out water and Gatorade. My only goal going into the race was to finish in less than 2 hours and I happily and thankfully met that goal. Along the course I met a few friendly runners but one stands out in my mind. Her name is Mary. Mary and I found ourselves running in lock step as we rounded the final half mile stretch to the finish line. We quickly introduced ourselves and encouraged each other to keep pushing. We were both tired but knew that in a few minutes we would be crossing the finish line. Out of nowhere I got my second wind and started to just kick really hard in order to have a strong finish. Mary told me that she couldn’t keep up but then she began cheering for me at the top of her lungs. All I heard was “go Lindy! You can do it Lindy! You’re almost there Lindy!” as I ran to the finish line. I then turned and cheered her in and we high fived each other in celebration. It was a beautiful moment shared between two runners. Moments like that serve to fuel my passion for running.
Just yesterday I ran the inaugural 13.1 Minneapolis Half Marathon benefitting WorldVision. Because I had just successfully run the Urban Wildland Half I was feeling great and anxious to get started. It was a nice sunny day, sort of hot and humid, but manageable. There were a lot of people at the start line which had a very narrow entry way for us all to pass through so that our timing chips could be activated. Right away I was running shoulder to shoulder with slower runners and could not get out of the pack to pass anyone. Once I was finally able to break free I had to run on cobblestone for about a quarter of a mile just to hit a comfortable stride. Not a great start. I found myself trying to play catch up during mile two, but I overcompensated and ran that mile too quickly. My whole race strategy was falling apart and I had to quickly re-calibrate. By mile 3 I was able to hit my stride and to maintain a comfortable pace. I was feeling great until mile 7 when I became nauseous and began to experience stomach cramps. I thought about stopping but couldn’t bring myself to do it even as the pain worsened. That’s never happened to me before in all of my years of running, but I persevered and met my goal of finishing in under two hours.
These two different races, characterized by their unpredictability, offer the perfect metaphors for life: always expect the unexpected and never quit.