The Sleeping Bear Dunes Marathon is just 2 weeks away; let the countdown begin! I can feel the nerves setting in, especially with unusually high temperatures and humidity for September. Cold weather is my favorite, especially for running. This morning, I had a pretty rough 10 miler in the early morning heat. I was feeling a bit defeated, but I know I must remain mentally strong and focused now more than ever. I’ve got this! Plus, I have the unfailing support of family and friends surrounding me. Like the Brooks motto, I need to "Run Happy"!
For my first marathon back in October 2013 in Des Moines, Iowa, I knew I would need some extra motivation to push through the grueling miles to reach the prize – the finish line. Prior to the race, I knew I would force myself to finish, but I had no expectations in terms of my capabilities for pace. My goal was a sub-4 hour finish, and I did it! Despite the pain and full-body discomfort, I attribute my mental strength that day to “my 26.2,” written on my arms with a black Sharpie. You see, I dedicated each mile to someone with a positive impact in my life at the time, especially related to my running. I affectionately called them “my 26.2” and thought about each individual on their designated mile during the marathon. I apologize for the poor photo quality from my iPhone 4, but you get the idea.
Fast forward to now, and I am exactly 2 weeks away from marathon #5. I wish I could say that marathons get easier the more you do, but they don’t. Like all skills in life, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Additionally, marathon performance is highly variable because of many factors—particularly training, motivation, the course, location, and race day factors (ie temperature, humidity, wind, crowd support, level of hydration, etc…). The list goes on and on. 2016 was a rough running year for me; I slacked on training and lost much of my speed and endurance. However, I’ve been in a much happier place in 2017 with my running, and have slowly been improving.
I feel jittery just thinking about standing in the corral for the Sleeping Bear Dunes Marathon on Saturday, October 7th at 7:30 am. However, I have worked my tail off for this even with many bumps along the way, including a break in my training in July and August while dealing with a blood clot and adjusting to blood thinner. Though I won’t be setting a new marathon PR, I have already overcome many obstacles and hope to have a great race—thin blood and all!
Leading up to the marathon, I will be sharing stories about the amazing individuals that currently make up “my 26.2.” Thank you to all of you for making me a better person and the world a better place!