Monday, November 9, 2015

Running 262 Miles

On Sunday I ran my 20th half marathon. That means I have run 262 miles during half marathon races. That doesn't include other races and training runs, but I've had some incredible experiences during those miles. I've discovered cities I loved like Knoxville, Tennessee. I became a Runner of Steel in Pittsburgh. I earned a Tiffany necklace as a medal in San Francisco. I ran 13.1 miles when the temperature was two degrees.

Ten years ago when I started running I didn't know where this journey would take me. Hundreds of miles later I have accomplished more than I ever thought possible. I've realized my body and my mind are always stronger than I think they are. Running has been my savior more times than I imagined it would. When everything else in life seems chaotic, my running shoes are always dependable. 

In my first year of running I ran three half marathons. After that I took a break and didn't run another long race for three years. I'm not sure why I stopped running for a while, but once I started again I did so with a vengeance. In five years I've run 17 half marathons, four marathons and countless 5k and 10k races. Running has become my friend and my companion. I don't know what I did without it. 

A few months ago when I realized I was 19 half marathons in, I decided (it has been suggested in an OCD way) that I wanted to complete my 20th half by the end of this year. It also seemed like a good idea to run it the weekend after the New York Marathon

My amazing and supportive friend Nikki and I drove 90 minutes north to Midland, Michigan early Sunday morning. I've spent some time in Midland the last few years for work, and it's climbing the list of my favorite communities. It's got a burgeoning downtown and focus on placemaking that is inspiring. We arrived early and easily picked up our timing chips. I was excited to get arm sleeves instead of another t-shirt to put in my basement.

We used our extra time to walk to the budding East End to see a proposed development project site. It was colder than we thought, so we waited it out in the car until the start. This race could not have been more different than New York. It was an out and back on the rail trail starting by the farmers market

Pre-race selfies in Midland
Nikki and I started fast. I was running half marathon PR pace for about 4.5 miles, and I realized my body was still too tired. I learned running a half marathon the week after PRing in a marathon means my body hasn't healed. My foot was killing me, and my hip was on fire. I slowed my pace while Nikki ran ahead.

I felt fine until around mile eight, and then it was all struggle. The course was quiet with maybe a few dozen spectators on the entire course. It was wooded and quiet, and I was alone with my thoughts. I knew it was going to be a slow race, but I just wanted to finish. I crossed the finish line in 2:04:02, much faster than I thought I was going. 

I've pushed through 13.1 miles twenty times. I've run in cold weather, hot weather, while injured and while feeling great. The half marathon is an incredible distance, and I've loved all 262 miles I've raced. I'm grateful for the chance to run even when it's hard. Thank you, Midland, for hosting number twenty. Here's to twenty more!    

1 comment: