This past weekend marked my final and longest run of my marathon training. I’ve looked ahead at this daunting run for weeks and months, nervous, anxious and excited for it to arrive. Though I never had a big wedding, I started to feel the like the planning and execution of this run was placing me in to borderline bride-zilla territory. I questioned myself, questioned my planning, questioned my timing. You name it, I agonized over it. And then, with the help of a fellow blogger, I underwent a paradigm shift. Bryan, from Lake Effect Runner, shared that he and his training parter were going to complete their longest run in a point-to-point style and celebrate with a jump in Lake Erie. I loved this idea from the minute I read it and decided to try to pull off the same feat. What better way to celebrate 5 months of training than with something big, something momentous? Suddenly, my agonizing worry turned in to excitement, like a kid awaiting their first trip to Disney World.
Jon, my brother-in-law and training partner, agreed to this plan and we worked out beach access with friends Josh & Jamie, who live in Euclid, about 8 miles away. Jon met me at my house and we headed out for a 3 mile loop through my neighborhood and an 8 mile stretch down Lakeshore Boulevard. Jon and I started our leg of the run early, hitting the pavement at about 5:20am. I was hit with pre-run nerves and a couple last minute Tums calmed down my irritated stomach. Soon, the sun was coming up and we were enjoying near-perfect running conditions. It was a joy to have shed our winter training layers (gloves, hats, tights, coats, etc.) and to be out in shorts and a single layer shirt. We reached Josh & Jamie’s house at about 7:30 and picked up Josh for the next 9 miles. Josh led us through a run along the lake shore, highlighting Euclid Beach Park, the beautiful homes of Bratenahl and the new manufactured wetlands in Wildwood Park. Though I was soon tiring, it was great to have the distraction of so much beautiful scenery and lots of laughter.
I hit a couple rough patches during this run. One at about mile 13 or so when I stopped to hydrate and take in some Gu. The Gu hit the wrong pipe and after a coughing fit, I was finally able to get going again. The second rough patch hit at about mile 17.5 when my right foot cramped and I had to walk for a few minutes to get it to relax. Josh, who had a soccer game to coach, ran ahead, leaving Jon and I to wrap things up. The final few tenths of a mile were both the hardest physical effort I’ve ever experienced and some of the happiest and proudest moments of my life. It was with relief and satisfaction that I clicked off my Garmin.
After grabbing our gear, we headed down to the lake with Josh & Jamie and their two boys in tow. Jon and I hesitantly dipped our feet in to the water and began to prepare ourselves for the 45 degree water temperature. With a little water testing under our belts, we went for it. Jon was far braver, practically diving, while I ran in up to my hips and needed a moment to accept the reality of the situation. I’ll let some photos pick up the narrative for a bit…..
Jamie took these amazing photos and I am so grateful for her help. She captured all of my emotions in this final shot. People have told me I look victorious, exultant, joyful. All of those are true. But, what I feel is that I look the most like the version of myself that I have always wanted to be. If a picture is worth 1000 words then this one describes the adventures, the triumph and the wonder of this journey.
I hope the final weeks of your training are going well and that you also have a chance to celebrate your accomplishments-and that even if you are not training that you find joy in your life each day.