Earth Day Run Number Five

We people just like to benchmark time and accomplishment. Birthdays and anniversaries demand cake, gifts, flowers, or all of the above.

Running events also mark their milestone years, and this past Saturday I ran the 15th annual Earth Day Half Marathon. It was a banner year for me too because this was my 5th consecutive running of the race. It’s the only race I’ve managed to keep up a “streak” at, probably because mid-April is a reliable time I can take off from the farm on a Saturday morning.

I thought it would be fun to chronicle my races and progress over the years of the Earth Day Run. It took some digging to find pictures from the first year, which was even before I started blogging, but I finally came up with them all. As you can tell from my apparel choices, April weather in Minnesota runs the gamut.


2010 Earth Day Half Marathon – 2:12:00

Lisa20Mile2011 Earth Day 20 Mile – 3:23:36

EarthDay2012Earthday2012Earth Day Half Marathon 2012 – 1:54:38

{This year had several outfit changes because the weather couldn’t make up its mind!}

20140313-213002.jpg2013 Earth Day Half Marathon – 1:50:18

{Shortened to 12.975 miles due to snow}

I feel nostalgic as I look back at my past progress and see how I’ve improved. I certainly haven’t done better in every race I’ve run, but it’s cool to see at this particular event I’ve managed to go farther or faster each time.

It’s also a tall order to keep up with, as I imagine it will become harder to get faster as the years go by!

Maybe I should quit reminiscing and share a few of this year’s race details with you?

Another fellow Team Dairy runner named Lisa met up with me before the race for a photo opp and pre-race pep talk. We both knew it was windy, windy, but we were also excited for what the day would bring.
I knew I wanted to break 1:50, but I also knew I wasn’t at 100%. I’ve been fighting some combo of a cold and allergies all spring, so I decided to keep my ears covered and my gloves on. The temperature was 40 at the start but quickly warming as the south wind blew. My troublesome right shin felt absolutely fine, and I was happy for that.

After the national anthem I tucked in a few runners behind the “1:50” pace group sign, and we were off. After mile one, the pace already felt fast. Uh oh. 13.1 miles is certainly shorter than a marathon, but it’s a long way to go when you’re tired at mile one. Luckily marathon training let me pretend it wasn’t a long way. My brain still eventually wanted to rationalize why I could abandon my time goal.

“It’s windy and crappy out; you probably won’t hit your time goal anyway.”

“Maybe it would be smarter just to run this as a marathon pace run. It would be good prep and not take as much recovery.”

“What’s so special about a PR anyway? Nobody really cares whether you run 1:49, 1:55, or 3 hours…”

{While this is essentially true, as I get no fame or fortune from running, competing against yourself is the essence of being a runner. So of course I care. 🙂 }

I focused on blocking this chatter as I stayed on pace with each mile, and I told myself I could do it because I WAS doing it.

I kept leap frogging with a blonde woman about my age, and every few miles an older man would run next to her for a minute and tell her the splits and how great she was doing. It seemed unlikely she would have a coach, and eventually I realized it was her dad. I don’t know how he was getting from point to point around the course so quickly, but I smiled at their teamwork.

The relay splits off around mile 6, and it’s always a bit deflating to see the second leg runners easily gliding away from you on fresh wheels. I wasn’t ready to be done, but I felt slow. At this point I put in my earbuds and let the music do what it could.

I was still running 8:30’s, which was close to what I needed. I thought if I could just maintain until mile eleven, then I would have only two miles left to push as hard as I could.

Almost like clockwork, I saw the mile ten marker and my shin started to throb. It had felt perfect until that point, but now I knew it would probably bother until the end. It was never terrible, but it didn’t relent either.

It’s strange how late in a race I seem to have a lone gear until I can see the finish. I kept trying to run faster, but my pace stayed around 8:40. I finally passed mile twelve and found a little steam. It wasn’t quite enough. I could no longer see the “1:50” sign bobbing ahead, and my quads were tight as I hit the final downhill.

I managed smiles for the spectators and thought about how great these people were to stand and cheer in the whipping wind. I got to mile 13 at over 1:49, and then I quit looking and just pumped my arms and legs.

That last .1 really can feel like forever. I crossed the line, took a bottle of water, caught my breath, and assessed. I hadn’t broken 1:50, and I hadn’t bested last year’s time either (1:50:18). Rats.

Once I got my chocolate milk and salty pretzels, the silver lining occurred to me. Last year I’d run a short course, and this year was back to normal.

On Saturday I ran 1:50:38 officially. I sat down to look at the paces, and I knew I could at least claim a legit PR. Last year’s pace had been 8:30/mile, and this year I ran 8:27/mile.

It’s not really about the math or the miles though. It’s about the confidence I gained from not bailing on my plan. I could have panicked when the early miles were rough, but instead I learned that all the miles may feel uncomfortable if I want to get faster. I was reminded of the kindness and support people give to each other on the course. I embraced the thrill of the finish even though I came up a little short.

I couldn’t write this post without talking about another finish, one which brought me to tears. The 118th Boston Marathon was run today. I watched the courage of Shalane Flanagan as she set a fast early pace, went on to run a huge personal record, but didn’t reach the podium or the win.

Meb Keflezighi, who seems to have overcome nearly everything in the book, went on to win the men’s race and become the first American champion in over 30 years. I remember watching him win in NYC five years ago, and I became a lifelong fan. Not many believed he could do it today. He’s too old and past his prime, the experts said. But he believed it. Having a USA victory this year – finally – was just more than I could handle. I cried along as Meb cried on the TV and my dogs looked at me in confusion. Then I high-tailed it back to the barn to inform JR that “Meb won!!” I share enough running chatter with him that he even knows who Meb is. 🙂

It was a great day for Boston, running, and people. To the 36,000 some who ran yesterday, I think you all helped create the strongest Boston ever. Congratulations to Stephanie, my H&F ladies, and all the other runners.

I’m grateful that the power and excitement of this race is happening right before my own marathon. I hope that with God’s help it will give me the courage to go after my goal until the end and the strength to achieve it.




About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
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8 Responses to Earth Day Run Number Five

  1. Way to go on your PR!! That’s an amazing pace and I’m sure you will rock your marathon! Watching the Boston coverage made me want to do one….. Good luck!

  2. Bree says:

    You did great despite the wind. I would be thrilled with that time! It’s awesome to see your progress over the years. Congrats again!

  3. Lisa Wuertz says:

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting your race recap since we didn’t get a chance to talk after the race. Great job!! Definitely a PR, especially when you factor in the wind. And very impressive progress over the years!

  4. Great job! It was really windy for my race too but it didn’t bother me a tonb- sounds like you muscled through it as well.

  5. Pingback: Running Through 2014 | Cow Spots and Tales

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