I am now one week out from the Tucson marathon! I feel ready, nervous, anxious and well, just ready to get the heck out-of-town! It has turned cold here! And I am feeling absolutely exhausted- the next two weeks of relaxation (ok, minus the tiny thing of running a marathon next Sunday 🙂 ) is very welcome at this point.
This was a packed weekend! On Saturday morning, the Girls on the Run program that I’ve been coaching this fall culminated with running a 5k. The forecast for Saturday morning was awful- all week they were forecasting rain, sleet, and snow! AWFUL weather to convince a 9-year-old girl that running IS actually FUN! Ok, it’s awful weather to convince THIS girl that running is fun! Fortunately, Saturday morning was met with light drizzle and temperatures above freezing. My 9-year-old niece, Tawnie, had agreed to run with me, I think the draw was getting to meet the other girls her age, not necessarily to run with me again, but hey- I’ll take what I can get! 2 of the 3 girls I coached showed up for the 5k- Grace and Nadia. Nadia’s mom had signed up to run with her too and we all agreed to run together. The run started great! The girls took off pretty fast, about 10 minute mile pace… until we rounded the first corner and hit a huge hill. That slowed them down for a bit. Although, Grace is a speed demon and kept a pretty steady pace ahead of us. Tawnie did amazing- she did her best to keep up with Grace and actually did keep pace with her for the first half of the race! Nadia and her mom were right behind us. I had the instinct to call Tawnie back and make her go slower so she wouldn’t tire so fast, but then thought it would be great for her to test her limits and see how fast Grace can go, without complaining :). Like I said, Tawnie did amazing. This course was HILLY. About halfway through, Tawnie slowed down and grabbed my hand- I knew by that she was getting tired. I kept my eyes on Grace, who was now a ways a head of us and knew she’d be fine- she was a rockstar all fall during training and with all the volunteers, I was confident she’d find her mom at the finish line no problem. At this point, Nadia and her mom had fallen a little farther back from us too. Tawnie wanted to slow down and walk so we struck a deal near mile 2. We would walk up the rest of the hills and run the flat parts of the course. Negotiating with a 9-year-old during a race was a new experience for me 🙂 Pretty soon, Nadia and her mom had reached us again and we shared our plan to walk/run the rest of the way and they agreed it sounded good to them too. Tawnie kept her word and even picked a spot at the top of each hill where we would start to run again- I was so so proud of her!! She did start to fade again about mile 2 1/2 so starting then, I began shouting wooo hooo- you’re doing so great! Only a half mile left! every time we passed a volunteer. Thankfully, every volunteer we passed caught on quickly and joined me in shouting words of encouragement to Tawnie and counting down how much further we had left to go. Finally, we rounded the last corner and we could see the stretch to the finish line. I grabbed Tawnie’s hand and started to pick up the pace- begrudgingly to her… but once we had the finish line fully in sight, I let go of her hand and told her to go! go! go! We were there and she needed to beat me to the finish because I was not crossing first- she was. And off she went. Again, another proud moment for me. I crossed that finish line beaming 🙂 We finished in 37 minutes- a VAST improvement from our very first 5k together in September. We headed inside for the post race festivities and found Grace, who wrapped her arms around me in a great big hug! I was surprised by this and deeply touched 🙂 Her mom was smiling big and said Grace came across the finish line and said “I accidentally got too far ahead and lost them.” This sounds pretty consistent with what I’ve heard during our 16 weeks of training together and I just had to smile. Nadia and her mom met up with us soon afterwards and I high-fived Nadia congratulations. I think it was a rewarding experience for both of them. This Girls on the Run program is truly amazing and I would encourage anyone to get involved in their local chapter. I plan to continue as a coach as long as it continues to work with my “real” job schedule.
Oh yeah, another part of the negotiating, close to mile 3, was planting images in Tawnie’s head of all the sweet rewards post race she’d receive. A gourmet hot chocolate from Caribou Coffee was one of them (ok, ok, this WAS a little self-serving because I wanted a dark chocolate mocha as a reward 🙂 ). So, we scooted out of the awards ceremony and picked up our hot beverages on our way home.
This morning was a scheduled 8 mile run- the longest run I’ll do this week as I begin to really taper and rest gearing up for the marathon. I looked up the weather on my phone when the alarm went off and saw that there were 11-13 mph winds and the windchill was around 10 degrees. I made an executive decision to head to the gym and endure this last longer run on the treadmill. I found Joel Osteen Ministry and listened to the message for the first 3 miles. Once the program was finished, I hopped off the treadmill to do some miles around the small track for a change of scenery. Originally, I set out to do 2 miles on the track, which meant a total of 18 laps- yuck- that sounded like a LOT but I knew it would be better than 6 more on the treadmill… my legs felt great and the laps seemed like they were going fast. Not quite halfway through my first mile on the track, I lapped an older guy and I couldn’t HELP but notice his flatulence as I passed. Now, I certainly know and understand that this happens during a run. However, if I were in a gym, with many others around me… I’m not so sure I would continue on. In fact, I think I would hurriedly pack up and jet out of the gym with a red face! Not this guy, he just kept right along- sputtering on- literally. I do have to say, it did give me motivation to pick up the pace every time I lapped him so that I was sure to stay ahead of him and not get caught behind him! I digress… I ended up doing 3 miles on the track and then jumped back on the treadmill to round out last 2 miles. I was still feeling great so picked up the pace to about 8:37 so that I could get it over with faster :).
I head south to Arizona tomorrow morning and will do the rest of my tapering in Tucson this week. I’m excited to get down there and just get acquainted with the weather and RELAX!!! More later 🙂