“Bracing yourself — always expecting your next race to be your hardest yet — is a much more mature and effective way to prepare mentally for competition.” — Matt Fitzgerald, author of How Bad Do You Want It?
About 16 miles into the marathon, most of the other runners, competing in the half marathon and 10K, had broken off on their own routes. There was no one in sight.
My focus began to wander. My thoughts turned internal — how I felt and how much effort was required to finish — rather than placing them on external factors. A few miles later, I turned to face the wind and the 8-mile push to the finish line.
In the early miles, I ditched the oversized camouflage long-sleeve shirt and Minnesota Gophers bandana. My pace felt strong by the halfway point, and my hopes were pinned on a stronger second half. Those hopes would fade just a few miles later.
Relief came after crossing the line of the Grand Forks Wild Hog Marathon, celebrating its inaugural 26.2-mile event in the city that was the birthplace of marathons in North Dakota (the North Dakota Marathon went from 1972 to 1984).
Running came as a bit of a last-minute decision. Little proof suggested that I’d run well. After posting 65 miles a week in August, I had tapered for an early September marathon that I didn’t run. The Wild Hog came 2 weeks after that planned race, so fitness suffered.
And, it turns out, I wasn’t impervious the toll of moving and switching jobs over the same time period. Coming down with a sore throat 6 days before race day also hurt.
But I’m not one to make excuses.
Two weeks later, I ran my first Twin Cities 10 Mile. Crushing the early downhills, the pace felt good — but inevitably a runner will calculate what it takes to reach the finish line.
Cool, calm and clear weather greeted more than 450 runners Saturday for the Fargo Mini Marathon. It was the best I’ve felt since sustaining an injury 4 months ago at Grandma’s Marathon.
As a runner, my greatest successes come when I stick to a routine.
Life has been less than routine.
For the past 9 months, my sights have been set on running well at the New York City Marathon. But I didn’t expect life to get in the way.
Somehow, I will need to embrace that this race must be my hardest yet — accept that it will hurt and push through the discomfort — for it to offer some semblance of success.
At the outset of 2016, I declared that 2016 would be epic. In many ways, there is plenty to celebrate — 4 marathon finishes (Los Angeles, Fargo, Grandma’s and Grand Forks) with 2 run sub-3:20, personal bests in 3 desert trail races to capture second in the master’s division series and a couple of first-place age division wins (Grand Forks marathon and Fargo Mini Marathon). Now there’s just one more meaningful race.
It’s been 3 months since I shared a blog post and so much has gone unwritten. There’s been so much that could and should have been written … and I’m looking forward to that routine, too.