My April Marathon: Run, Forrest, Run
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed keeping my training and mileage levels up since a heavy fall race schedule. The early part of the winter/spring meant training for the Little Rock Marathon, but I am now finding myself in a bit of a race gap. I am registered for a relay event in May, and I’ll be running Dam to Dam in June, but my next longer distance race isn’t until the Great Cranberry Island Ultramarathon at the end of July. I thoroughly enjoy organization and planning in general, and I find that it helps keep my training on track as well. Thus, having races on the schedule is a good motivator to keep lacing up and maintaining the mileage from week to week. Although I could certainly register for numerous races taking place, they all cost money. Between travel and registration costs, the expenses can add up quickly, and in case you weren’t aware, graduate students aren’t exactly a part of the 1%.
Thus, I resolved to run my own distances races. I’ve verbally committed to myself and I’m now committing to the great vastness that is the online expanse that I will run at least one marathon every month, on my own. Each Saturday, I get together with an amazing group of friends for longer planned runs, complete with water stops set up by whomever happens to be in charge of the route that week. These runs serve as the foundation for my monthly marathons, and allow me to simply begin running early, with my own water and nutrition, and build the weekly route into my total distance. I did just that this past weekend and had a great time in the process!
I woke up around 5:00Am in order to be out the door by 5:30AM. Now, I’m sure seeing this time flashing on the clock is a regular occurrence for many of you. However, I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON and it isn’t a typical morning if I haven’t silenced 4 separate alarms and hit snooze on numerous occasions. Luckily the beautiful epicurean is of the same disposition, so you can typically find us staying up far too late, regardless of when we need to be up in the morning, and even then, still forcing ourselves to fall asleep. This is all to say that 5:00AM is not natural for me in any way. However, I knew that if I could get out the door by 5:30, I could get in around 2 hours of running before meeting the group at 7:30AM.
I headed out the door in the dark, my red light blinking to announcement my presence to the random cars actually on the road, and quietly peeled off the miles. Although I don’t enjoy getting up early, it doesn’t take me too long to wake up, and the fresh air makes it even easier. In a small community such as ours, the early morning hours on the weekend mean I can run for extended periods of time without seeing any other movement, let alone someone else on the street. There is something very calming and relaxing about this running solitude, and it is an excellent time to collect my thoughts, and prepare for the remainder of the run, as well as the work that awaits me for the weekend when I return. The first 12 miles seemed to fly by, and I felt great when I arrived to meet the group. I was ready for the excited energy and friendly conversation that I have come to expect with every group run, no matter who I might be running with on any given day.
The next 12 miles were equally energizing and relaxing, and offered a sharp contrast to the solitude of the previous 12. As always, I had some wonderful conversations about all aspects of daily life, experiences, weekend plans, and other various philosophical topics, and I hardly noticed the distance as I continued. When we arrived back at the start of the group run, I had less than 2 miles left, and was about that far from home, so I waved goodbye and journeyed home, hitting 26.7 miles as I walked up to the door and quietly entered the house. The beautiful epicurean was still sleeping. Did I mention that we weren’t morning people?
When I hit 26.2 on my watch, I subtly smiled, and kept pushing forward the final half mile. There were no volunteers at the end to put a medal around my neck or hand me a bottle of water, and I wasn’t surrounded by other finishers, but it didn’t matter. When I’m out running and given the opportunity to connect with friend, old and new, I get everything and more from the sport I love. I didn’t actually know I was going to run my April marathon when I set out that morning, but I was feeling good and enjoying the conversation so I just kept going. Afterwards, my friends made the requisite Forrest Gump jokes. He was a fictional character, but I realized then just how much I identify with him. I may not run like the wind blows, or even like the wind, but I certainly do love to run.
“Now you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was going somewhere, I was running!”