Yesterday, I ran the Indy Monumental half marathon for the second time (the first being in 2017, a couple of weeks before I got pregnant the second time). It was an incredible experience and really helped me realize some things about my attitude towards running.
I didn’t really train for this race (I would not recommend this…). A couple of months ago, my good friend Jana, who was signed up for the full marathon, asked if I would like her entry. I agreed (it meant a night BY MYSELF in a hotel with no kids!) and switched the entry to the half. I had a few weeks to train, but right after I committed to the race I went out of town for two weeks and didn’t do a single long run. I did squeeze in a 10-miler three weeks before the race, and a 12.5-miler two weeks before, so I felt ready.
Usually when I run a race I have an idea of my goal. This time I really didn’t have a goal, especially as I knew I was coming in undertrained with some annoying knee issues. But I figured I would try to beat my last half-marathon time from the Flying Pig earlier this year, and maybe try for a 10-minute/mile average if I felt up to it.
The week leading up to the race, I ran 6 miles on Monday, strength training on Tuesday, and CycleBar on Friday. Probably not the best taper but there you go.
The morning of the race was cold; much colder than it has been so far this fall. I stayed in my hotel for as long as possible before shuffling to my starting corral, where I tried to position myself between tall people to act as a break from the wind. By the time I crossed the start line I couldn’t feel my hands or my feet. I weaved between other runners while being blasted in the face by the icy breeze and hoped it would subside soon.
By mile 2, my toes thawed. I saw some friends from back home cheering and ran over to say hi and hug them. That gave me a boost and I ran mile 3 in under 10 minutes. Other than that, I was averaging 10:30, which felt good. My mind wasn’t in the best state, though; a couple of times I thought about how I could just run back to my hotel and take a nap, which was tempting as I hadn’t slept well the night before.
Mile 4 was where my negative thoughts got me. I walked a little and ran a little and then felt okay to run for the next two miles. When I stopped to walk again at mile 8, I realized that my brain was trying to sabotage me.
Back before I had kids, I ran a half marathon in 1:50. Although I know I am not in a position to beat that anytime soon, I still had that time in my mind and told myself I was too slow. I somehow equated my slower pace with not being any good at running, and thinking that I should just give up.
But as I started my run/walk intervals, I realized how much I liked just being out there and being able to move. I loved seeing the people (and kids) cheering the runners on. I took great joy in watching a boy dance and mime the words to “For the First Time in Forever” as his mom played the Frozen soundtrack loudly for the runners. I high-fived kids and cops, and thanked the volunteers for being out there on that cold morning. As the marathon course rejoined the half course around mile 10, I watched the elite runners in wonder and awe as they ran their way to a sub-2:30 marathon.
Through all this, my knee was bothering me on and off. I stopped to stretch a few times and took walk breaks at regular intervals, and I felt good to run the last 5K (partially so I could go back to the hotel and get in a warm shower). As I crossed the finish line, I watched the faces of my fellow runners as they grinned at their awesome achievements. I remembered to stop my watch, but I didn’t really look at my time. It didn’t matter. (For those curious, I clocked in at 2:22:49; slower than my last half and one of my slowest times ever).
Today, I woke up with a sore knee and a new resolve. I’m signed up for the Flying Pig full marathon next May, and I’ll start training in about six weeks. It will be my fourth marathon. For the previous two I ran, my focus was on time and pace (my first was all about survival). This time, my focus will be on feeling good and finishing uninjured. Maybe that will take me 5 hours or more, and likely it will be much slower than my previous two marathons. But I’m okay with that, because at the end of the day I am just happy to be out there, no matter how slow or fast I am.
Also, I am feeling unmotivated for the training part. Any tips on how to stay motivated through the winter months when I’m tired and have to deal with two kids?