The Climb

Crisp mornings. The cusp of full colors. Racing season.

This time of the year is hard to top for energy and excitement. A summer’s worth of hard work and play is about to unfold at races across the northern climes — and many of us hope to squeeze the most out of Mother Nature before winter’s cold, hard truth arrives.

In Grand Forks, it’s race week for the Wild Hog Half Marathon and the forecast promises ideal conditions for the weekend of events. Those of us with sights set on a marathon — St. George or Twin Cities — in two weeks are making final preparations while embracing the training taper after months of grueling miles.

The taper brings both anxiety and relief to most runners. Anxiety about training, nagging injuries and travel arrangements. Did I do enough to reach my goal? Am I ready for the monumental task I’m about to call my body and spirit to carry out? With so many factors effecting a successful race, the attention to details matter from here until crossing the finish line. For most, the hard miles are over, and the race becomes the reward.

This past weekend, Coby and I traveled to Fargo. He received a new batch of toys — a stuffed chicken, chewing stick and tennis balls — before I headed to the NDSU-UND football game at the Fargodome.

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The following morning, I met up with a friend for the final hill run — 16 miles in the early crisp morning. If I had hoped for a confidence booster before the marathon, especially after a tough half marathon the previous Saturday, it came in the form of the climb over gravel rollers on a sleepy Sunday.

Only flipping through old running logs would provide details of a similar distance 2 weeks ahead of a marathon. It may have happened once prior to running the Twin Cities Marathon — but I also recall feeling burned out and broken down heading into several races.

It’s a strange place to be: by August’s end, I wanted the hard miles to be over. For 2 weeks I slogged through workouts before a half marathon served as a wakeup call. Too much hard work had been done to coast, so another hard week of running ensued. With a final strong run finished, it’s time to make the final workouts count.

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