I had a FANTASTIC weekend! Much of it was spent at home, in my PJs, on the couch! It’s been a while since I had a weekend like that, and it will be a while before I get to have another one, so I took full advantage! (Also, no, the picture above has nothing to do with this post other than that it’s a funny pic of me and dad from band parent’s day my Freshman year at VT… he was learning the halftime dance with us!)
However, before all of that relaxation, Jason, Dad, and I all hit the trail for the 30k at Salem Lake. This would be my longest run in a while (pretty much since the MCM last year) and my dad’s longest run and race to date. More than that, the thing we really have in common is our ability or doubt our abilities. I know I should be more confident given everything I’ve put myself through this year, but I haven’t felt that my running is where it needs to be for a while (like since the Raleigh 70.3 in June).
Yes, obviously I had some pretty long IM training runs and did complete a full marathon during the IRONMAN, but there was a significant amount of walking involved – something I can’t afford if I want to even come close to my MCM time from last year. To complicate things further, my stomach had been giving me trouble for the last few days, I hadn’t had a good night sleep nor my preferred pre-race dinner (pasta with meat sauce), and my Benedryl was still wearing off from a middle of the night allergic reaction. Basically, I wasn’t sure how I was going to run 18.6 miles…
On the other hand, if you ask me, my dad has been doing AWESOME throughout his MCM training. He and Jason regularly run together, many times averaging sub-9 on their long runs. I don’t think he really has a reason to doubt himself, but it’s what we do… we worry, we are realistic to a fault, and those things combined leave a lot of room for doubt.
Regardless, we all showed up to the starting line unsure of what the morning would hold except that the weather would be PERFECT! Jason made some early moves and was off and running. Once dad set his watch, he was off too, and I decided to take it easy and follow the feet of those in front of me.
About a mile in, the pack loosened and I did start passing some people, and keeping pace with others. It’s a funny thing about running on a trail, but it almost feels as if drafting is possible. It seems easier to link up with some groups and just let your body match their pace leaving it one less thing to worry about. I continued to do this all the way around the lake until I found myself the pacer of a group of runners who had been training with the local Fleet Feet store. One of their runners, Molly (who I would later learn is also married to a Charlotte 49er), kept pace with me from miles 6-10 until I realized that it would probably be a good idea for me to eat a little something and let my stomach settle.
The Salem Lake 30k course is an out and back course that follows a gravel/pebbled path around the lake for about 6 miles then heads out for another 3.3 on a paved greenway where there’s a turnaround and you head back exactly the way you came. I saw Jason headed back around mile 8-8.5 and saw dad just before reaching mile 9. They both looked good and were making great pace. I felt good too, but was probably a little too focused on making it to the turn-around.
I didn’t take my first true walk-break until about mile 10 when I realized I hadn’t eaten anything yet. I had 3 Gatorade chews and walked a little longer to let them settle. Once settled, I was back to running strong at mile 11 and told myself I needed to make it a full mile before considering another walk break. The mile passed quickly and I decided that I could definitely continue running. I took another fairly significant walk-break around mile 14 to finish the pack of chews and let them settle. From there I was amazed at how easily I was able to keep myself occupied on the run (note to self – remember to eat earlier and maybe you won’t have to walk). Granted, I had turned on Born to Run after the turn around so that I could “run with Caballo” on the way back. But my legs felt GOOD… I can only imagine how good I would have felt with a good night’s sleep, a good dinner, and no upset tummy!
All in all, I was very pleased with how the race went and I finished just about a minute slower than I did last year. That tells me that I’m in so much of a better place than I thought… SEE no reason to doubt – I never said it was called for…
And my Dad? Well, he finished in 2:49:49 with a pace of 9:07… which would give him a sub-4 hour marathon! So seriously Dad, we need to stop and trust ourselves! We’ve got this!
I also have to give a huge shout out to my cousin Thomas who came in 2nd OVERALL in the Vermont 50k at Mt. Ascutney this Sunday. Maybe this thing does run in the family?! Pun completely intended!
Finally, in other news, I’ve been thinking about trying out a new look for the blog… stay tuned for improvements!