After feeling a little dismayed by my Drake 10k performance, I have really upped the training in May. My coach/husband is pretty unforgiving when it came to pushing me out the door in heat, wind, rain, with tired muscles, exhaustion, and blisters. Needless to say, May was a push to meet what I set out to achieve.
Night Runs turn to Long Runs
In order to really feel good about my race, I knew I needed to stick with my running plan regardless of all my excuses. There were so many nights of finally putting the last kid to sleep and falling face first onto the bed. Instead of a quick 2-3 miles, I needed to be putting 4-6 miles in my weekly rotation. With a gentle nudge from Eric, I usually log rolled off my bed and somehow shimmied into my funktastic running clothes for an evening run.
The weekend brought even longer runs. I decided to run on trails because this offered the most distance and, my favorite feature, they were mostly flat. I meandered my way through Water Works Park and the Bill Reilly Trail, trying to dodge loose dogs and geese shit.
Mother’s Day I got a fancy piece of equipment, my new Garmin watch. I got to test it out in the mother of all rainstorms for my 9 mile run. I don’t know if it was the torrential downpour or my elite performance, but I ran my ass off for one of the best runs of my life. My pit crew eventually felt sorry for me and met me at the end of my run with a towel and some dry clothes.
I promise this was totally stormy about five minutes before the photo was taken.
The Last Dam Race
Leading up to Dam to Dam, I felt myself getting a little sad about taper week. I went on my last run on a Wednesday night. I wove down the streets I normally avoid because of hills or the wind. It gave me the confidence to believe I could tackle almost anything. I got a little nostalgic at the end of my last run and stretch. I even made Eric take a photo of me. As much as I whined about running (as early as four paragraphs ago), I was going to miss this time to myself. The peace, the quiet, the excuse to get out of the house, and trying to take care of myself.
Apparently, the only thing I know what to do in a running photo is a thumbs up.
The day before Dam to Dam the weather was not looking good. Rain and thunderstorms. Usually not a favorite running condition. Every time someone asked me about how I was feeling about the race, I got the nervous bubble gut feeling. I tried my best to be brave, but I was mostly freaking out. Not only was I going to run, but I wanted to really badly to do well.
How do I put this? Dam to Dam is a logistics clusterfuck. Let me start with, I can’t imagine trying to figure out how to get 9,000 people transported, give them bathrooms, and a well supported route. I get why they are quitting this thing. For those of you who have ever run this race, you know what I am talking about. A lot of confusion, minimal information, and a little uncertain if you were going to make it to the start on time.
It was a shotgun blast of stress at 5:15am. Traffic was backed up like crazy, buses were late, runners were nervous and losing their shit, it was raining, I was wearing a trash bag as a rain coat, there was lightning, huddling next a van trying to find shelter, and it was cold. I tried to remember that I paid money for this. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I got up to the start with 30 minutes to spare for plenty of bathroom time. I never felt so relieved to finally have the start of a race after a 30 minute delay.
The run itself was actually enjoyable. I told myself to enjoy it. I worked this hard to get to this day and I wanted to soak in the experience. After turning from the first mile, it was downhill and the rain quit. I think I high fived every outstretched hand. The pre race stress started to melt and I sank into a decent pace. I even ran my ass up the first big hill into Des Moines, when I had walked it every year prior.
Then, I decided to walk right around the 9 mile mark to take some water. Mistake. I just couldn’t get my mojo back. Mile 10 brought the Birdland Marina hill and I was wanting it to be over. I tried really hard to get motivated again, but my muscles so wanted to be done.
The Dam run.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with this race. I felt great until the last two miles, I managed to have a PR, and I was happy enough to have some beer at the end. My final chip time was 2:18:56 for an 11:11/mile pace. I wanted to be a little faster than this, but I’ve decided to just be proud about this journey and my accomplishment.
Since I started running in January, I have run a total of 207 miles, lost 8 pounds, ran three races, nursed one baby, and have gotten zero children to sleep completely through the night.
I set out what I wanted to accomplish. Take some time back for myself, do something on my own, finish Dam to Dam, and feel good about my training. I have this sinking thought…it’s all over. This thing I set out to do is over. There is a large part of me that is sad and a little confused as to what to do next. I want to keep moving forward, but will it be the same? I’m not sure what’s next for me, but I know I want to keep pushing outside my comfort zone and keep growing. My lesson learned is there is never a right time or there will never be enough sleep or the kids will never be in the right place for me to do the things I want to do. It’s up to me to create the space in my life to accomplish my goals and I don’t need to stick around wait for the magical timing fairy to tell me it’s okay to begin. Sure, it comes with sacrifice and life balance, but those things can be figured out.
Thank you to all who took the time to read my words, supported my journey, asked me about my running, and provided support. I couldn’t have done any of this without my pit crew, my coach, my husband, and loudest cheerleader on the course, Eric.
Now it’s time to find the next adventure!