Good grief, Charlie Brown! It was a misty, cool morning to join the Peanuts gang for Valleyfair’s Run & Ride quarter marathon. This year the course had changed, from a 10K to a quarter marathon, throwing an extra curve ball into the mix. All-in-all, I think the race went well, though I was disappointed in missing a 3rd place finish; coming in fourth for the third consecutive year. I really thought this was going to be the year! The year I elude the Red Baron, find the Great Pumpkin, kick the football, and run my legs to the finish line for a podium-placing touchdown. Although I continue to improve, so too does the competition; and when a race throws you a couple rocks in your treat bag of ambition, be grateful for the high standard. Let it motivate you to lift, curl, and squat that bag to a stronger self.
Typical start to the morning; coffee, makeup, hair, struggle to find a comfortable outfit, then off to the races.
6:10 a.m: Jason and I leave for the race, only 2 miles from our house; a great perk!
6:30: Meet up with Lexi and we chat in the car for awhile
6:40: Jason and I head out for our warm-up, just as the mist rolls-in.
7 a.m: Race start. Lexi and I start out together, but eventually part ways. Jason takes off leading the show by about a quarter mile; soon he is gone in the distance, and I find an open spot to get out of the crowd.
Mile 1 (9:08): The mile marker was a quarter off, so I hoped somewhere down the line there was a short mile to make up for the misplaced sign.
Mile 2 (9:13): Still feeling good. I peek at my watch again to see we were at 2.5; frustrated, I carry on. We run through the amusement park, taking in the scenery. The rides lay empty and motionless, void of the usual thrillseekers. Snoopy, the mascot, walks the grounds, cheering the runners on.
Mile 3 (8:53): We exit the park, I’m on my own at this point, nobody in sight ahead or behind me. The race still presenting as long, but I’m still going strong!
Mile 4 (9:06): There is a long straightaway, which always seems to take forever, and in previous years, I would be able to see Jason on this out-and-back stretch. I must be running faster this time, as I don’t see the lead pack.
Mile 5 (8:51): Finally, a turnaround from the asphalt straightaway; the way back becomes gravel. The cushion is much needed at this point, as the pounding is starting to irritate my knee.
Mile 6 (8:49): Watch reads 6.25. I normally don’t look at my watch during races, but the long course is having a psychological impact.
The home stretch (8:20): I’m tired… The last half mile turns into .8 miles….. My third place goal seems beyond my grasp…… My breathing is heavy, lungs feel like collapsing…. There’s Jason!!! He’s taking my photo. Nerves calming. Breathing slows. Finish line within reach! I made it. I collect my medal and a few post-race snacks
Having goals is important in running, and in life. It provides purpose to your endeavors. However, when you miss your mark, as we all do from time-to-time, then reevaluate the target, take aim when ready, and shoot for the stars. I was initially disappointed in my time, upset that the course was .3 miles too long, and had a brief pity party. When I had my time-ticket printed, it showed 4th…AGAIN! It also showed my age group has been expanded upon from last year’s 24-29 to 20-29. Looking back, I did pretty darn well! My overall 10k goal was 58 minutes, and I had run 55:54; That in itself is a huge accomplishment. It is also a PR from the 10k last year which was 1:02:58. Although initially discouraged that fourth place continues to smile upon me, I realize that it’s really a great finish, and, even though it was not a true 10k, I still had my best time! Also, I had the pleasure of running with my fiance and one of my best friends, received an awesome Peanuts character medal, and yummy post-race treats were provided. Nothing to be disappointed in, I just need to train harder for next year. Don’t let a race bring you down, especially if you gave your best effort! You win some, you learn some, but you NEVER lose. There are some who cannot run, and some who refuse to understand the great sport we love. Be proud of your efforts and thankful for every mile!
Today, I am proud of my Athlete, Lexi, who came in 5th in her age group. She is also one of my best friends, and has worked so hard in her speed training while also balancing a busy lifestyle. She is a no-excuse athlete, and her hard work shows in her progress.
I am also very proud of my fiancé, Jason, who won the race for the 3rd year in a row. His humble nature has helped shape me and my met
hods. Watching him put in the hours of training, and taking care of himself through proper nutrition, has really given me a positive outlook and changed the way I perceive life. Jason is my Linus/security blanket, and I would not be where I am without him.
I love running and I love racing! It’s a lot of fun, I enjoy competing, but realize that missing your goal (or a lil’ rain) shouldn’t dampen your spirit, but harden your resolve! If you don’t try, for fear of failure, then you miss out on life’s “what ifs.” Keep on pushing toward your goals and never give up on your dreams. Do not put limits on yourself; you are the only person who can hold you back!
Editor: Jason Quarford