I had the pleasure of running at one of my favorite places in the world this past weekend. I had a 20 mile training run scheduled and saw that it perfectly lined up with the 30k that the Twin City Track Club puts on every year. This race is small, low key and always promises some talented, fast runners from the local area. I had planned on using it as a training run which means I needed 20 miles at a 7:40 pace. Since my left toe had been flaring up all week long, I figured it would be a great idea to stick to the pace and keep it nice and slow. Just get the miles in and time on my feet for Richmond. I chose to wear my Adidas Ultra Boosts even though they are a little heavy (9.3 ounces) instead of my Saucony Kinvaras for this race. I chose the Ultra Boosts mainly because the mesh upper allows for my feet to swell as much as they need to without restricting them at all. **The Ultra Boosts are great for people that have feet that swell. The top part of the foot area is completely mesh and doesn’t restrict your toe box at all. And no, I am NOT sponsored by Adidas. **
It had been raining for several days here and I was worried that the trail would be a complete mud pit. It wasn’t, but we did have 2 trees down which means we had to jump over them 4 times as it was an out and back race. Between the water hazards and jumping over the trees it felt more like a cross-country steeplechase hybrid run more than the normal hard packed dirt trail around the lake that I am used to. I started out with a super great guy, Derek, who is in our running club. The front pack gapped quickly and I didn’t want to be running 18.6 miles alone. He said he was going to keep it easy and I’ve ran with him before as he is in our local running club, so I figured it was a good fit. Our first mile was 7:18, so I felt pretty good with that. I knew I could slow it down anytime, but I feared I would lose the only person running close to me. Mile 2 was a little too fast at 6:59, but by that time I had already committed to keeping up with him. I kept up with him probably until about mile 9 or 10 and then he was just too strong. So at that point, I knew it was a training run and I needed to let him go, so I was running solo from that point on. Derek has the ability to run fast and make it look effortless. I really hope I can accomplish that same feat one day. The rain kept coming down, but there was some solace in it. You get lost in the beauty of Salem Lake, it helps you escape the suck and embrace the quiet around you. Salem Lake is a magical place and I absolutely love running there. The way the sunlight peeks through the trees and dances off of the water makes you feel like you are escaping into a world that only you know. It’s secluded, but yet it isn’t. It’s truly a hidden gem for all of us that use the trail. I almost forgot that I was even in a race. It was just me, the trees and the rain. However, all of that solace ended quickly as I approached the flooded points on the greenway. It was an “oh crap” moment. Do you stop and take off your shoes so they aren’t water logged bricks or do you run through it and suck it up? I chose to run through them and suck it up. However, it did make my already heavy shoes feel like bricks on my feet. And since it was an out and back we all had to cross both of the flooded areas twice. Just to make sure your feet were completely soaked. Right after that the 5th place girl passed me moving her to 4th overall female and me 5th. I told her “great job” as she passed. I kept my pace steady, I knew this wasn’t an “A” race for me and to not push the pace. Plus, she looked pretty strong, so I’m not sure if I could’ve raced her even if I wanted to. After she passed me, I was once again solo. On the way back I had two guys pass me and I passed one guy. The two guys that passed me told me I had great form. That was the most awesome compliment ever during a race. It almost made being passed not seem as bad. I did start to slow down to about a 7:25-7:30 pace on the last few miles. I gave myself a break knowing I was sloshing around in my shoes and knowing that I had already ran a lot faster that I had intended to anyway. When we came over the last tree jump at around mile 17, I was just hoping my legs would get me over the tree one last time. If not, I was hoping someone would have a camera to capture that epic face plant into the mud. Mud facials are good for you, right? My legs kicked in and carried me over the last hurdle with ease. It was smooth sailing from there until the finish line. When I was done, I was told 2:14:59 was my official time and was handed an age group medal. After checking the official results online it was posted 2:15:00 and 1st in my age group. I will take it! Especially for a training run. I drank some coke at the finish line and it was like nectar of the Gods. I am pretty sure angels did little dances on my tastebuds as I drank it. I ended up doing another mile cool down and figured that 19.6 was good enough for the day. I wanted some dry clothes and some food ASAP. Upon returning home, I took my grandparents out to lunch as they had come into town to watch my mini me while I ran. Nothing beats coming home to family and seeing how proud they are of you and what you accomplished….and being in dry clothes.
It has been 4 days since the race and my left toe is still flared up. I am hoping that it goes away soon as it is not making my runs pleasant this week. However, I am one long run closer to Richmond. I have so much of that race on my heart and mind. First and foremost, I am trying to pace my good friend to a BQ time. And second, I would really like a huge PR in the marathon. I hope my runs continue to go well. I am so hopeful for this race. But, the marathon is a fickle beast and then you throw in an autoimmune disease into the mix and you never know what you are going to get. But, I am putting my heart and soul into my training and I will look back through my training log with pride knowing I have given it my all. Even sometimes when I didn’t feel like it or something was flaring up. I will never give less than I can. I will always be grateful for every step I take. I may not always love it in the moment, but I am elated my body will allow me to do it. We all have struggles and things we must overcome. Mine are no worse than the next persons. I feel like we all inspire each other. We all should encourage each other to be our best selves. I once heard if everyone threw their troubles into a pile that each person would gladly take theirs back. In a way I agree with this. I know how to handle my struggles. I know how to fight the obstacles. And when I don’t, I have learned to lean on the people who love and support me to help get me through. Thank you again if you took the time to read my blog. I appreciate you all!