Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Marathon Journey: #4 Grandma's 2006 - 2:59:01

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." - Proverbs 3:5-6

After finding joy in simply running healthy in 2005, I turned my focus towards some different goals in 2006. I joined the UW-River Falls track team that winter and ran the 5K and 10K throughout the indoor and outdoor seasons. It was fun being around teammates and friends each day as opposed to running tons of miles solo. However, the itch to do a marathon was still inside of me, so I signed up for Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN that season and prepared for it at the end of the track season since the race wasn't until June.

I found that my long distance training for track actually suited me well in preparing for this marathon. The only piece I had to add myself were a couple of longer 18-20 mile runs in the final month and a half of training once track ended. I was in the best shape of my life, having run P.R.'s in the 5K and 10K during the track seasons and ran a half marathon P.R. 2 weeks prior to Grandma's. I was feeling prepared and confident that I could also get a new marathon P.R.

Grandma's Marathon is a great race...if the weather cooperates. I had spectated up there many times before and had seen what a June heat could do to a person's race. I came in prepared for heat and I lucked out by having a cool, cloudy day. It was still very humid, but the cloud cover kept me from getting too warm during the race.

I took a patient approach in this race and started out conservatively. I want to be able to do this every time I race, but it's really hard! My patience paid off this time as I ran the most evenly paced marathon I have ever run! One of the best moments came at mile 25 when I ran by my parents. They had been waiting there all morning (it's a point to point course, so a little challenging to spectate in many places) and as I went by I flashed a big thumbs-up, and they knew I was flying that day.

As I rolled into the final stretch in Canal Park, the crowds were huge, but they weren't very loud (not many runners had come through at that point) so I did something I had never done...I started raising my arms encouraging them to cheer louder! They responded and I flew over the final couple hundred meters to a new P.R. of 2:59:01. It placed me in the top 130 out of over 6,000 runners. I was completely and utterly exhausted at the end, so much so that both of my legs cramped up so badly that I fell over shortly after crossing the finish line. My mom actually found me laying on the ground with a complete stranger holding my legs up for me! I'm sure to the outsider it looked really sad, but I knew that I had given it my all, I had prepared, and I had accomplished something special.

As I continued to learn more and more about the marathon, I knew I was getting stronger and smarter, but I now know I still had a long way to go. God showed me through Grandma's 2006 that if I truly prepared myself as best as I possibly could, I could accomplish great things. God will guide you where he wants you to go if you put your full trust in Him and prepare yourself to be open to wherever he may be leading you.

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