This past winter, I recognized that I needed a sufficiently challenging goal to force myself to train again. It’s been nearly a year since I trained with my Elmhurst running group on the Illinois Prairie Path, incidentally the first successful rails-to-trail conversion in North America. But the lessons and advice I learned have stayed with me.
My pacing has slowed 1 minute per mile (a combination of more hills in Minneapolis (and you thought it was flat!) and less regular training). But I know how to prep the night before the race, fuel before and during the run (GU is delicious), pack your drop bag (flip flops!), how to pace that very crucial first mile and the rest of the race (thanks to Garmin), how to pinch and pour the water cups, mixing the right music for my iPod shuffle, and how to stretch.
I loved the cowbell, drums, cheering from spectators and most of all the signs. Some favorite ones: “Run Like You Stole Something”, “Where are You All Running to?” and “Worst Parade Ever.”
It was fun to race many parts of the course with my college friend Erika. And, I’m proud that I ran the entire race without stopping–eating my GU and drinking water on the run and finishing (unofficially) at 2:01. For a junior high kid whose worst living nightmare in P.E. class was running one mile, it’s amazing what you can accomplish with training and determination.