Running might not seem like the most natural complement to my life as a dairy woman, wife, and mom in rural ‘middle of nowhere’ Minnesota, but this year has given me a fresh realization of how grateful I am to be a runner.
When the stress of long hours, poor weather, or employee problems makes me crabby and short-tempered I know I can find some solace out on the paved trail just east of my home.
I give thanks every time I strap Speedy into the jogging stroller that he enjoys this time as much as I do. I was pretty certain once he started walking he wouldn’t tolerate being constrained in the stroller, but so far he has proven me wrong.
The mild spring weather and warm afternoons helped me get in more training than I thought I would, and I did two races in April.
The first was Goldy’s Run at the University of Minnesota. I met up with two of my sisters on a gorgeous spring morning, and we walked, jogged, and chatted together the whole 5K as I pushed my bright orange stroller with a happy little boy inside. He loved seeing his aunties and cousins post-race, and it was really neat to do an event together with family.
We had a small snafu the morning of because my sisters were driving together and they forgot our race numbers. They were almost at the race when they realized, but they quickly turned around and an understanding husband met them along the way with the needed numbers to save time. We all found each other at the start with about one minute to spare, and we will laugh about this every time we think back on the race.
My second spring race was the Earth Day Half Marathon on Saturday. This was my seventh time running it so I know the course well. It felt a little strange to go without Speedy as it’s the first race I’ve done without him since he was born. (Or before he was born if you count the races I did in the first half of my pregnancy.)
If things went really well I thought I could break two hours, so I lined up several feet behind the two hour pacer at the start. Speedy had not slept well overnight and I was fighting a cold, but I was still optimistic. I had no stroller to push and the day was gorgeous. Maybe too gorgeous.
The bright sun warmed things up to 65 degrees by mid-morning, so I was a salty, sweaty mess several miles in. The pace didn’t feel easy, but I could manage it. I decided to try to run as even as possible and stay within sight of the two hour goal as long as I could.
I chatted with a few people but mostly went along in silence until about mile 6. Then I put in an earbud for some music, and a few minutes later I bumped into a friend which was a welcome distraction for a few miles. She eventually went ahead, and I was back to wondering if I would hit my goal.
I’d forgotten how hard the end of a long race feels, and it’s a little disheartening how tough the pace felt at the end. From mile 10 and on I mostly found myself just ahead of the two hour pacer. He was vocal and encouraging, and he kept shouting things like, “Stay strong and beat me to the finish” or “Just another 14 minutes at this pace. You can do 14 more minutes at this pace.”
At the time I found it a little infuriating, but I thanked him at the finish because I think he really helped me keep charging ahead. My last mile ended up being my fastest at 8:36. Clearly I was in shape for the pace, and I’m glad I didn’t just back off at the end when things got uncomfortable.
Official time of 1:59:09 which I am pleased with for my first post partum half. This race has been my training focus for awhile, so now I need a new goal! I’ll probably be spending more time working and less time training out of necessity as planting season approaches, but my littlest running buddy and I will definitely keep getting out there.