Sunday, November 15, 2015

For the love of the run

It's been almost three years since I was in the best running shape of my life; these days, I spend a lot of time thinking about how much work it is to drop weight and get faster rather than actually doing the work it takes to drop weight and get faster. I run because it's fun and a great way to spend time with friends rather than to qualify for Boston or set new PRs.

Despite the competitive fire being banked for the time being, I do still look for ways to do more; be more; achieve more. I continue to work toward my goal of running a marathon in all 50 states, but don't really have a specific plan for the next several months. The upside of no plan? Flexibility.

I got a text a few weeks ago from a childhood friend down in Houston asking if I could provide a recommendation on a hotel for the Tulsa marathon weekend. Not having run it before, I checked with a friend and responded. We went back and forth a few times, during which I made a couple of excuses for why I wasn't running it this year.

Excuses. Man. I seem to be full of them these days.

I start thinking. Tulsa - it's four weeks away at that point. I'm in reasonably good shape; I still do long runs on weekends, including a 14 miler not too long ago. Marathons are like those songs that get stuck in my head; I couldn't stop noodling on it. I don't have Oklahoma; this is a huge Maniac race; Tulsa is only a two hour drive away; how hard can it be to go for a just-finish?

Clearly, the thing to do is to run a 20 miler the next weekend. Clearly. Because if you can run 20, you run a marathon right?

My friends think I'm nuts. Maybe I am. Of course, that means they're as nuts as I am, because you know I didn't run that 20 alone the next weekend!! Off we went, starting at 5am on Halloween morning, knocking out Hobby Lobby loop and then the Stadium Loop to get all twenty miles in. With the take-it-easy and just-finish approach, I had one of the best 20 milers I'd had all year. Go figure.
So that was that - I was in. I went home and signed up for the Route 66 Tulsa Marathon, which is one week from today. I've been "tapering" in my training ever since - this might be the best idea I've had in marathon training. Run whatever you feel like for a few months, do one 20 miler, then taper! There has been one training challenge since I signed up; the weekend after the 20 miler I decided I should do 14, but Justin was out of town and I was home alone with the kids on my regular Saturday morning run time. What to do, what to do... well, duh. Obviously, the answer is to run laps in the neighborhood.
The elevation profile cracked me up!!
It's better than a treadmill...

I know running 15 laps in the neighborhood doesn't sound great, but as it turned out, it wasn't too bad. The mailbox was my water stop, and I went by the house every seven or eight minutes to check on whether the kids had any lights on yet. The guy around the corner having a garage sale probably thought I'd lost my mind by the fourth or fifth time I ran by, but hey - maybe he was on to something. Ha!

Here I am with the race one week from today, and I'm mostly looking forward to it. Like I said on our run yesterday morning, the problem with having run several marathons at this point is that I know exactly what I'm in for. I'm super excited to see Molly, coming up from Houston, and there are other friends going from NW Arkansas. It's a huge race for the Marathon Maniacs, so I'm sure the vibe will be great. And I'll get to mark Oklahoma off the list, a bonus for the year since I thought Vermont was to be my only new state!

I just have to remember - this isn't about the pace. This race is all about the love of the run.

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