Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oh, the Dairy Air!

Dear Diary, It's been a while since I last wrote anything.  That's how I have started most of my journal entries throughout my life. It seems blogging is not much different.  :)  Okay, I promise to be better about writing. Really. No. Really.

Anyway, at the beginning of this month, I decided to take my urban-running self to the world of small-town trail marathons.  Yes, I ran the Rails to Trails Marathon in a little town called Norwalk, Wisconsin: population 638.  It was actually a lot of fun! From the spaghetti dinner the night before the race to the chicken dinner immediately following, the small-town atmosphere was so homey, I expected someone to come back to the hotel with us for a tuck-in service.  Race morning, I was able to sleep in a bit, and the starting area of the race wasn't a big chaotic scene.  In fact, it was more like a neighborhood picnic.  And being able to keep my warm clothes on until 10 minutes prior to the gun was also great, since it was November in Wisconsin. Brrr.  There were fewer than 250 runners, so I could just step into the starting area, not getting shoved and jostled, having to slink my way between runners to get a choice position.  But, little did I know, that choice position in this case was a little optimistic.  I mean, I didn't think I would PR because of my slackadasical training this time around, but I figured that since I was a seasoned marathoner and (for heaven's sake) I've run Boston! I would be in the front of the pack in this sleepy little race.  Wrong!  When the gun went off those runners took off like greyhounds chasing a rabbit made from snausages! And they didn't slow down.  Ever.  And here I am, running my little legs off, feeling great, not realizing just how fast I'm going.  I didn't see a mile marker until Mile 4 of the race, so I couldn't tell my pace.  I knew I was going fast, but didn't realize just how fast.  I kept trying to slow down, once I figured it all out, but, like I said, I was feeling great.  My arms and legs were moving so effortlessly throughout the first 11 miles that I stupidly thought, "Well, yes! I am amazing! Perhaps I will PR today after all."  Wrong again.  Right around mile 14 the reality started to sink in, and I was finally able to slow down.  And I kept slowing down. I slowed down a lot.  Around mile 18, it was pretty ridiculous.  There were some parts of the race where I was clodding through the woods without a runner in sight.  I thought, "Oh, great. I'm the last runner in this damn race."  But toward the last few miles, I started to see civilization again.  There were some other runners like me, not superheros, but ones that had gone out too fast and were now slowing too.  Some were even walking (*gasp!*).  I dug down with everything I had and passed them.  Gradually, I was able to pick up my pace in the last four miles, and, wouldn't you know it, I was back to traveling at a decent clip by the final three miles of the race.  I can't say I finished "strong,"  but I ran.  I was definitely running.  And when I crossed that finish line, my legs screamed out in agony.  No, I surely did not PR that day.  But, I soon learned, that I placed 2nd in my age division!  So, even though it wasn't my best time, and it wasn't the most prestigious marathon, I was ecstatic!  I had done something I never would've done at those big races like Chicago or Boston, I came home with two medals! I was so very proud.  I can't say this urban runner is ready to move out to the sticks, but running through the serenity of the country and the open dirt trails is certainly something I'll seek out again.