Ten Things I Learned From Running a Mini-Marathon, Part 2

By: Daryl Berry
Friday, June 17, 2016

I recently competed in my first mini-marathon.  I came away from that event with some insights and observations, not so much about running but about how the lessons can be applied to everyday life.

No 5.  Use a new challenge to help meet your objective.

I had never given serious thought to running in an organized race.  I knew they took place because we had gone down town Lexington one evening to cheer on our daughter who was running in a race called “A Mid Summers Night Run”.  I was impressed by the number of people of all ages, shapes and descriptions that turned out to run a 5k which I learned was just over 3.1 miles.  But I wasn't impressed enough by it to start a running program at that time. But now as I was getting into this running thing I thought that I needed something to run for, a goal, something to keep me motivated.  I made up my mind to run in a 5k and I turned to my Runkeeper app to come up with a training plan.  There are several plans out there called “Couch to 5k” that will systematically prepare you to run your first 5k. I think my first plan was spread over eight weeks running 3 or 4 times per week

No. 6. Chances are you will perform better than you expect.

My first 5k race was a rather small event on September 1, 2012.  It was a race to raise money for a youngster battling cancer.  That’s one of the good things about a lot of these races is that the proceeds raised go for a good cause.  Based on my training times I expected to finish the race in 31 minutes but hoped to finish in 30.  I ended up beating that time by finishing at 28:45. That is one of the things I have learned in running in races, is that I have finished better than I expected.  There is something about the competition that will cause you to do better.  In a race I find myself wanting to catch up and pass that next person in front of me. In that first race I also did not want to be beat by my daughter ( and I wasn’t).  Running or walking doesn't have to be about beating someone.  It needs to be about beating the complacency of settling for a sedentary lifestyle that leads to a variety of health problems.

In Ecclesiasties you will find the verses, Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. For me running is mostly a solitary event, I just haven't found a running partner whose schedule matches mine.  The exception to this is on race days when you may run with a hundred people or in the case the mini-marathon over ten thousand.  In almost every instance I have run a race faster than I anticipated based on my training times.  This has to do with the competitive aspect of wanting to beat the person in front of you.  I have ran some smaller races when I pretty much ran alone.  Every one set their pace early and there were few to pass or to be passed by.  In my most recent 5k that was different as I found myself running with about three others.  There was a young boy that would in his youthful exuberance come blowing past me but he would tire and I would pass him only to have him come roaring back in a few minutes.  There was a young lady who looked to be in her late twenties that was running just fast enough to stay in front of me for much of the race before she faded. Then there was another lady that looked to be my daughter’s age that settled just off my elbow for most of the race.  She was pushing me to keep pace with her and I would occasionally pull away but just for a short time then she would be right there. This kept up till near the end of the race when she pulled away to beat me by several seconds.  After the race I told her I enjoyed running with her and she replied that I had pushed her to keep up.  I guess she didn't want to be beat by a white haired old guy any more than I wanted to be beat by a thirty something woman.

No. 7. I found I could fill my mind at the same time I exercised my body.

I found myself doing a lot of runs in the range of 3 miles which I could do in around 30 minutes.  It was not that difficult to fit 30 minutes into my schedule and I found that time better spent listening to spiritual music, a sermon or a book as I ran rather than sitting in my easy chair watching mindless TV.  Sometimes my wife and I walk together.  The pace is slower but the duration is  longer, burning the same number of calories as a run but getting to spend time together.

No. 8.  It will not always be sunny and seventy.

I had been bitten by the race bug and I ran another 5k in mid-October bettering my time to a sub 27 minute time and was second in my age group.  ( I found there is less competition in the older age groups.) The race was on a rather cool fall morning and I found out that I was going to have to get some different cold weather running clothes.  The other runners were all wearing non-cotton running apparel and here I was in a cotton thermal long sleeve shirt. While it was warm it absorbed every drop of sweat and held it like a sponge after the race was over.  The t-shirt I received for running this race was a synthetic material and on my next run I was able to see the benefit of synthetics as they wick sweat away from the body. 

In training for the mini-marathon which was in April I had to a lot of training in the cold. I soon found out how many layers of clothing I needed for various temperature ranges.  I found that running in the cold was no worse than running in summer heat.

As a New Years resolution in 2013 I decided that I would sign up for the upcoming Kentucky Derby Festival Mini-marathon.  I picked out a training program and registered for the event.  I figured that if I was registered I would stick with it and see it through.  What I didn't count on was needing to have surgery.  That came about as sometime in the middle of my training.  I was running one day and could see that running was helping my cardio system, I had lost weight and my lower body was getting in good shape but I figured my upper body could use some work. So I decided to start doing some exercise to build the upper body some.  Nothing major, just some basic exercises. About the second morning of doing set-ups I went to do a set-up and felt an excruciating pain in my lower abdomen.  I discovered what a hernia was all about.  The surgery to repair the hernia and training for the mini didn't jive so I had to miss that race. 

I decided that this wasn't going to deter me and as soon as I was able I resumed light running.  Personally I need something in particular to train for, a goal, a reason to train.  I set my sights on the Fourth of July Bluegrass 10K in Lexington which I finished in just under an hour in a gentle rain.

That's something I learned about races is that they are not called off because of rain, maybe lightning, but not rain.  The mini-marathon I just ran started with threatening skies and the rain started during my sixth mile.  It was not the pouring rain I feared from the forecast but a gentle rain that kept me cool as I counted off the miles.

Thanks for taking time to read these thoughts.  In my next post I will finish up this series on running and I will get back to writing about funeral and grief related topics.

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