“That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.” – Kara Goucher
It all happened in whirlwind.
Just prior to the alarm sounding early Saturday morning, I awoke to start the same routine I use on every race morning. But first I had to check the weather.
Undoubtedly, it would be chilly, but thankfully the wind wasn’t much of a factor. Still, the difference could be measured in more than just degrees: the 29-degree reading outside was a dramatic improvement to the minus 20 reading in Grand Forks. Or the 18 below zero reading in Fargo. Those don’t even account for wind chill, which if you run in the wide open, makes a noticeable difference.
Quickly, I gathered some gear to throw in a bag, took a quick shower and drank a carb-loaded drink to hydrate and give me a bit of fuel for the run: a 25K desert trail race in the foothills of the Valley of the Sun. These Aravaipa Running events have become among my favorite.
The events serve as training races in my quest to be a better, more fit runner. They break up the training regimen. Now they’re serving as a foundation for my training for the 2014 New York City Marathon.
At Saturday’s race in McDowell Mountain Regional Park, there were plenty of runners bemoaning the temps. To me, considering I had stepped off a plane from North Dakota just 12 hours earlier, this was a heat wave. A few miles into it, I had to take off a running cap and long-sleeved shirt so I wouldn’t overheat … and it was still in the upper 30s at the time.
These training races allow me to work on becoming a better runner by building on my leg strength (there’s no such thing as flat land on the trails), cardiovascular system, pacing and strategy. And I’m lucky to do it in a place offering terrific vistas and weather during brief breaks from the winter wonderland in the northern plains.
During the coming weeks, I’ll be assessing the buildup to the New York City marathon to determine how to shape my marathon training and the race season leading up to it. And I am looking forward to the journey.