Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Coming Full Circle

It feels as though I have come full circle with my running journey. Before I explain why, though, I should really update you all on what has been happening with my running. 

I feel pretty lazy for not having written more posts since last December, but I don't feel like I need to beat myself up about it. Life happens, as they say. During the first six months of 2018 I kept busy with a variety of different things, not the least of which was running. 

Even in January, I knew that for Thanksgiving this year my family would not be going out of town. I decided that I wanted to run a Turkey Trot, as it was sort of on my wish list for last year, but my family went out of town, and I couldn't find a race local to where we were. The search for such a race this year in Minnesota led me to the Minnesota Run Series. The Minnesota Run Series is a group, or series, if you will, of races all throughout the year. The first race is Goldy's Run in April, and the last race is the Reindeer Run in December. The MN Run Series offers a 4+ challenge that gives any participants in 4 or more races of the 8 race series a special hoodie. Since I knew I was already planning on running the Turkey Trot, I convinced myself, and my husband, that I should run three more races to complete the 4+ challenge. The other races I chose were Goldy's Run, the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon, and the Lake Waconia Half Marathon.

In addition to signing up for the above listed MN Run Series half marathons, I had also tentatively planned on running the Urban Wildland Half Marathon again this year, since it falls on a weekend that my husband already takes vacation from work. I felt that, in addition to a couple of 5k races, my running season would be challenging but not impossible. So early this year, my tentative race schedule was as follows:

April 8—Goldy's 10 mile 
May 6—Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon
May 21—SBMFD Fit2Fight 5k Fun Run
June 2—Lake Waconia Half Marathon 
July 28—Urban Wildland Half Marathon
September 29—Panther Foundation 5K
November 22—Turkey Trot: Saint Paul. 

It was definitely a well-rounded schedule that would hopefully keep my motivation and training on track.

While I did use the treadmill a small amount at the beginning of the year, once I signed up for Goldy's Run, I decided that I should train outside as much as possible, since I was well aware that an April race could bring any sort of weather.

I never ran in any extremely difficult conditions between January and April. Some runs were obviously colder than others. There was one particular run on April 3, during which it was snowing pretty heavily. As I ran throughout my neighborhood, I came across someone walking a dog. The man made a comment about my running in the snow, and I simply told him that weather didn't stop training. In my mind, for some reason, I had this vision of my training being for a marathon. I imagined what it would feel like to cross a finish line after 26.2 miles, and the thought honestly put a little more pep in my step.

A snowy run on April 3, 2018.
Now, I'm not saying that I was anxious to sign up for a marathon after that training run. I simply felt that, someday, likely years away, I would love to experience the feeling of completing 26.2 miles.

Fast forward to June. Folks in the running community likely know about Global Running Day. For those of you who may not have heard of it, it's pretty much exactly what the name implies. It's an annual event held on the first Wednesday of June that celebrates the sport of running. Every year, various running groups hold contests on Global Running Day. I like to enter contests. I tend to win things. This year a company called Motigo asked for runners to post a photo which answered a specific question that asked anything from "What's your favorite race?" to "Miles so far this year." I think I answered the "Miles so far this year" question and submitted it with a photo to their contest on June 6, 2018.

On June 10, I was sitting with my family waiting for fireworks to start for an annual local celebration. I checked my email. I was shocked when I read the following:

Hi there!
Congratulations!! You've won an entry to the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon
for participating and posting your picture for Global Running Day.

Say what?! I won an entry to a marathon?! An entry that normally costs $150.00?! I really wasn't sure how I felt about it at first. I asked my husband to check his vacation availability the next time he went in to work. When he told me that he had enough vacation, and the vacation calendar was open for October 7, I got really excited. Then I contacted my physical therapist to ask him if a marathon was something I could realistically complete. Once I got the okay from him, and once my husband put his name on the vacation calendar, I officially signed up for the marathon. I had 17 weeks to train. 

One of my biggest deciding factors for signing up, other than the free entry, was that I am currently in the best shape that I have been in since having kids. If there was going to be any year to commit to the time it takes to train for a marathon, this was it. And, my husband agreed. 

So, here we are 17 weeks of training later. I have one more training run before the marathon. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I felt like I'd come full circle with my running. This is why: I really became hooked on running after I had won an entry to a local 5k.  Now here I am, preparing to run my first marathon on an entry that I won. Very few people can say they were fortunate enough to win a single race entry, let alone two. The only reason I am running the marathon this year is because of the free entry, and the free entry to that 5k in 2016 is one of the main reasons I started running. 

I don't necessarily plan on winning any more race entries in the future. I'm not even sure that I plan on running any more marathons. I guess I'll save that decision until after I finish on Sunday. Until then, I can say that the act of training for a marathon has shown me that I can do anything I set my mind to. And, honestly, I now understand why people pay $150.00 to run 26.2 miles. The experience of the training alone has been worth that price. 

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