Ten Things I Learned Running A Mini-Marathon, Part 3

By: Daryl Berry
Thursday, June 30, 2016

This entry will wind up this series on my reflections on running 13.1 miles with a few thousand others.  

No. 9. You will not lose the benefits of your efforts overnight.
After running in the Bluegrass 10k in July 2013 I continued casual runs not training for a particular race.  Instead my focus shifted to a new opportunity.  To make a long story short, I started concentrating my efforts on buying the funeral home and less on running. By mid-November we had moved from Lexington to Campbellsville to assume ownership of Lyon-DeWitt Funeral Home.  Due to various delays the sale was not finalized until January but it was a very busy time and running took a back seat.
I realized a couple more things at this time.  First was that even after a layoff I could pick up where I left off.  If I decided to go for a run, it wasn't like starting over.  I found that I could go out and run a couple miles and not be winded like I would have been a couple years earlier.  The second thing I realized was what a stress reliever that running can be.  The delays associated with finalizing the funeral home purchase were frustrating and I found I could go out for a run, clear my mind and get a new outlook on life.  Most of the time when I run I listen to my playlist of Christian music that includes songs by Third Day, Phillips, Craig and Dean and Casting Crowns.  Mostly upbeat songs with a rhythm that I find I can run to with an occasional slower song that slows the pace for a few minutes.  Just like in everyday tasks, you can't go all out all the time.  There have been times that I have listened to downloaded sermons or I’ve streamed live radio and on occasion I have run in silence when I can meditate on the beauty of the moment.  It’s great to be out in the early morning seeing deer, hearing birds sing and witnessing other wildlife as a new day begins.

By training for the mini-marathon, a 5k seems more like a sprint.  I think back to the time when I was not exercising  at all that the thought of running just over three miles was something I could not comprehend.  I can remember while I was training for the mini thinking that once I met that goal that I would go back to running just enough to stay in shape to run in the occasional 5k.  But after I finished the mini-marathon I remember the feeling that I had more to give, I wasn't totally exhausted. Oh, I was tired, muscles ached and joints were sore, but I remember getting to the 12th mile marker and being able to pick up the pace, finishing strong.  Sharon drove home from Louisville and I slept much of the way.  After getting home I slept like a baby but the next morning I felt renewed.  Gone were most of the effects that I had felt the day before and my thoughts went to “what if I had run twice as far?”  Can I do it?  Nine months from now will I want to?  Can I, will I find the extra day per week to train to run twice as far?  Will my body let me?  Like all things in life time will tell.

During the race I thought about all the preparations that went into putting on this race. Putting on a road race through city streets takes a bunch of people.  We ran through a bunch of intersections in Louisville and there was a police at each intersection to block the traffic.  I appreciate the fact that the organizers and the city allocated the resources so that we could run through city streets. This does not mean that all  the pot holes were filled and other hazards removed.  I learned to watch runners right in front of me to anticipate what was coming up.  If they zigged, I zigged to because they were avoiding some obstacle.  I remember nearly running over a vertical post coming up from the pavement.  It was one of those posts put there to separate a bike lane or something.  I was running along behind a small cluster of runners when suddenly one quickly side steps and there I was facing this pole which I barely missed.  Just like in the game of life, there will be an unexpected hazard that will appear from no where.
It is not uncommon while running streets and roads to occasionally experience road kill.  I remember during the mini running across a dead opossum on a city street there in Louisville and thinking that they should have driven the route before the race to pick up something like that. 

That day it started to rain  at about mile six, not a pouring rain, just a gentle rain that actually was cooling and refreshing.  I soon realized that the stripes and markings on the road were slicker than the pavement and to avoid them.  I found that I wanted to avoid puddles because wet feet were not so bad but squishy feet were uncomfortable. Fortunately I ended up with no blisters like I heard someone else someone else complaining of.

No. 10  Hills will make you stronger.
Since I am always subject to having to go to work on a moments notice I usually run in my neighborhood which is called Hidden Meadows.  Guess what the meadows are hidden by?  Hills!  Upon leaving my home in any direction I begin going up or down a hill.  I attribute beating my expected time in the mini by nearly 19 minutes in a large part to running these hills on a regular basis.  The course for the mini marathon  in Louisville is relatively flat.  My training times were based on running hills, so no hills meant a better time.   In sixty years I have found this to be true in life.  When we face uphill climbs in life we can rest assured that it will not always be uphill and that we should take advantage of the downhill and level paths to improve our times.  

Unlike some races, the  finish line at the mini marathon was not in sight until we turned a corner and there it was, a hundred yards or so away and down a slight grade.  Surprisingly I found myself able to pick up the pace and pass several others as I reached the line.  Two weeks later as I ran in a 5k at Green River Dam, I could see the finish line over a half mile off.  I had been pushing the pace quite a bit and it just seemed like the finish line was not getting any closer .  Right before the finish line there was a slight uphill grade before it leveled off for the last few yards. I got up the incline but there was no sprint left in me.  I guess this is much like life.  You want to pace yourself to keep from burning out too soon but you want to be able to look back and know that you did your best.  Whether you are able to sprint to finish or just hang on to the finish, you want to have run the race to best of your ability.  The 5k at the dam ended up being mypersonal best time.

To conclude this series on my experiences running a mini-marathon I would encourage you to take on some new challenge.  Whether it's exercising your body or your mind, find something you want to do and go for it.  Life is too short to spend it on the sidelines.

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