It’s Monday afternoon, and in 6 days, I am going to be toeing the line at my very first marathon!
It feels like this day has been a long time coming. I've very slowly and progressively built up my distance and this weekend it will all come together when I run the iconic distance: The Marathon. I've never run anything close to this distance before (my longest run to date has been about 33km) so this day will consist of a first of many forms.
I love firsts and it feels like as I get older, firsts happen less and less often. You only have one first marathon. You only have one first day at school, first day at a new job, first kiss (sigh). The very act of doing something for the first time brings you into this state of unknown and while it can be scary it’s wildly exciting. As I make my way through this week, with all the feelings brewing inside, I'm reminded of the importance of continually trying new things in life to have that 'first time' feeling. With the last long run of this training block in my rearview mirror, all I can do now is sit back and reflect on this short yet exciting training cycle that has lead me to the start line of my first 42.2 km race.
Every so often, I do a run workout that is truly HUMBLING. It reminds me how running performance can vary day to day and how much life effects this silly sport.…
One day, I can head out the door on an ‘easy run’ and come back 30 minutes later barely having broken a sweat with a pace of 5:30/km. During these runs, I feel like I am flying along the path, gathering up speed by the kilometre. In my mind, I look like a gazelle moving with grace and ease. Endorphins rise and I end my run feeling incredibly strong and confident as a runner.
Other days, I can head out on that very same route and feel like I’m slogging my way through the entire thing. I look down at my watch and see my pace a full minute slower and wonder how on earth my legs are moving so slowly and yet I feel so tired.
I’ve had a streak of really strong runs lately that have really boosted my confidence. I was nailing my speed workouts, and increasing distance in my long runs while keeping a steady pace. Each week I was feeling stronger and stronger. Then, my coach put in a speed workout that pretty much pulled the ground out from underneath me.
This past weekend, I participated in the Haliburton Forest Trail race located in the beautiful and majestic Haliburton Forest. This was my second year running this event, last year completing the 12km race. Haliburton Forest has a special place in my heart. We’ve spent the last few summers camping there, and we have done some pretty spectacular hikes in the Forest as well. Located 40 minutes from our family cottage, it’s an easy race to manage logistically and has a warm and inviting vibe.
The race has a number of distances to choose from including a 12km, 26km, 50km, 50 mile and the big 100 mile. Last year, I made a last minute decision to run the 12km race and had an incredible racing experience. The people were friendly, the race was wonderfully organized and I knew I wanted to come back again this year and managed to convince my brother in law to accompany me on the trail. New into running, Brian is an absolute natural. So far he has found joy in running through the High Park trails, so I knew his heart would explode when he experienced running through the actual forest. When his birthday came around this year, I asked him if he would like entry into this trail race; he was in! We both decided on the 26km distance and before we knew it, we were all heading up to the cottage for a fun siblings weekend away.
I’m halfway through my 30 day running challenge and wanted to reflect on what this experience has brought to me, so far.
I’ll be honest that I was hesitant to start what is often called a running streak: consecutive days of running without rest. I had mixed opinions. I wasn't sure it would be the best option for my training (I’m currently training for my first marathon at the beginning of November). But also, I wasn’t sure how healthy it was to do something every single day. I’m a huge proponent of balance and moderation in almost all areas of life and really value rest and recovery. But, 30 days is not a lifetime and I'm always up for a challenge and something to push me outside of my comfort zone. Plus, how can you know if something is good if you’ve never tried it?
I decided that if I was going to sign myself up for this, I had to be really clear on my reasons for embarking on this challenge and what I was hoping to get out of it.