Oh my goodness! Is it Week Nine of our 2019 marathon training challenge already? Time sure flies. My apologies for not blogging about our adventures sooner, but there has been so much other stuff to blog about lately too. I think we last left off at Week Four. Five whole weeks have gone by. Incredible.
Its not like the three of us Struggle Busters haven’t been busy. On the contrary, we all have been super busy. And we have been running. You’ve probably already read some of our other antics, I am sure. I just didn’t list them as a part of this Marathon Challenge Series. I will tell you that any running we do these days is directly related to our Marathon Challenge. Let me get you up to speed on what we have been up to these past 5 weeks.
Week Four saw us running 12 miles on May 26th. All three of us ran this run together and I blogged about it for you to follow along. If you haven’t already read this post, you may want to. It tells of my struggle with filling my new hydration pack. Quite a brain-fog moment and funny. It should not have taken me that long to figure it out. But it did.
The next week we all ran 13 miles, but on different days. Anita and Stephanie ran together on the weekend. I had to fly down to Toronto for a meeting, so I ran with my good friend, Sherri on the Friday. Sherri’s legs are now famous and pictured on the cover of my article series on Muscle Recovery, Part One and Part Two. That woman works hard, running half marathons and body building. She looks fantastic. All her hard work these past couple of years has really paid off for her.
We all ran the Voyage North Race in Grand Marais, Minnesota that weekend. It was a fun event. We did an extra 10 miles after that run. It was a drop down, or rest week on our schedule. We take our rest breaks very seriously.
I ran the Black Fly Half Marathon on the Saturday. It was a very hilly 13.1 miles out along the Chapleau Highway. I ran this with Sherri, Amanda and Ashley, a few of my other running buddies. It was so much fun. Unfortunately, Sherri ended up tearing her calf muscle quite good on those hills. She is now resting under the care of her doctor, physiotherapist and trainer. We will miss her, but she will be back. Nothing holds Sherri down for long.
Stephanie and Anita also managed to squeeze in their 13 mile long runs that weekend. Even though our schedules don’t coincide, we keep each other accountable. We are determined to get the work done. Training is a priority for us.
I was, again, travelling, so missed the Struggle Buster 14 mile run on the Sunday. I did my 14 mile run on the Monday when I was back home. The weather on Monday was pleasant, but running 14 miles by myself was completely and totally mind-numbing boring. The route I chose was particularly difficult and full of hills. I have no idea why I chose such a tough course when I was alone. I could have just ran something flat. But, no, I had to run one of the hillier areas in my home town. Needless to say, I was so happy when my Garmin watch clicked over to 14 miles indicating that I was done.
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So, that brings us to Week Nine. Whew. I was wondering when we would get here.
The prescribed training distance on Sunday was 15 miles. Was I ever thankful to be running this distance with my favorite running buddies. After the mind-numbing 14 miles on the Monday, I really wanted to be running with these ladies again. I was excited.
Stephanie and I had run 15 miles before. Actually, we ran this distance twice last fall, so we knew what we were in for. Anita and Lori were running that distance for the first time. So, it was going to be a new experience and test for them. I was looking forward to sharing that moment with them.
Our friend Lori joined us for this long run
Lori decided to join us that day. She isn’t apart of the Struggle Buster Marathon Challenge. She just wanted to be out running a long slow distance with us. Lori actually had no expectations on how far she was going to run that morning. She was going to take it stride-by-stride and see how it went. We love running with Lori. She is always welcome in our running group. She is such a happy and positive spirit. I am glad she was there with us. Our route looped back to the cars after about 8 miles, so Lori was down with going at least that far.
We ran early to beat the heat of the day
We started our run at 7:30 am to try to beat the heat of the day. Those who know me, know I don’t do mornings that well. So it is an attestment to my dedication and friendship with these ladies to get me out of bed at 6:00 am to get ready for a run.
It was approaching July and the hot days of summer. The days were, indeed, getting hotter with temperatures in the high 20 degree Celsius prior to our run. We were not accustom to running that far in such hot and humid conditions. We are Northern Canadians, after all. You know, parka and toque wearing folks, eh!
However, Mother Nature cooperated with our run that morning. It stayed cool the entire 3 hours we were out there running. A nice breeze was blowing, dispersing the humidity from the previous hours rains. We were very thankful for the cooler temperatures. I couldn’t help but wonder if this wasn’t a sign that this run was meant to be. The Universe was definitely being kind to us that day. I took notice.
We ran our usual route, adding on yet another mile
We ran our usual route through the middle of the city. I really like this trail system that connects our college and university. It transverses two other wooded parks and a golf course. The start is a gradual uphill climb, but it means that there is also a gradual downhill middle portion. What goes up, must come down. And the trails flatten out during the last bunch of miles. Beautiful for a long run like this.
Lori wasn’t ready to stop running
We circled back to the College at the 8 mile mark. Lori wasn’t ready to stop. It didn’t take much convincing to keep her running with us. I was very thankful to have her bubbling conversation as we ran 2-by-2 along the route.
Lori and I talked up a storm covering topics such as work, parenting, muscle physiology and just general catching up on each others lives. Stephanie and Anita ran just ahead of us, deeply engrossed in conversation. I wondered what they were talking about.
We all held up pretty well until the 13 mile mark. We’ve all ran half marathons, multiple times. The half marathon distance really is a lovely distance to train for. It is challenging enough, yet doesn’t consume your time that training for a full marathon does.
Training for 26.2 miles is time consuming but worth it
I am finding the time to train for a full marathon a bit daunting. When I am not actually running, I am thinking about running and writing about running. It is a very good thing that I love to run. Stephanie and Anita are also finding the hours needed to train a little time consuming. But all 3 of us are dedicated to going all the way. Our families are on board with this challenge, encouraging us to continue, supporting us along the way. We are making our training a priority and getting our runs done. It is a good excuse for spending time on ourselves. We deserve this.
A quiet run for the last few miles
After 13.5 miles, we suddenly all got quiet. The conversations weren’t flowing as smoothly now. I tried to get Lori to tell me a story. I started her off. It went something like this….
There was a man from Nantucket, who got lost and fell in a bucket. He said, “Aw, F*#k It!”
And that was the end of our story telling escapade. We decided it best to just continue in silence.
Then the swearing got worse
Between mile 14 and 14.5, the swearing got worse. We were doing the run/walk method; running 10 minutes, then walking 1 minute so our legs could have a bit of a rest. Stephanie had been calling out the intervals, saying “walking” when it was time for a one minute walk and “running” when it was time for a 10 minute run again. It was at about the 14 mile mark when Stephanie called out “running” for the umpteenth time. Unplanned and in perfect unison, the rest of us yelled out “F#$% Off”.
After a brief pause of realization, we all burst out laughing. Stephanie broke out into the biggest smile, finding the situation hilarious. Hey, what are running buddies for, if not to bring a smile to our companions face by swearing at them.
After that, it became a thing to carry us to the end. Each “running” announcement was met with profanity. Not our finest moment, by far. But this is what running for 3 hours does to your brain. Somehow exhaustion makes you lose the ability to care about decorum. Cuss words run rampant, as does talk of various bodily functions that go awry or the appearance of very personal chaffed spots during a run. I love my running buddies for this exact reason.
Long distance runners are a very cultured and classy bunch (said with a big dose of healthy sarcasm).
Swearing is a sign of intelligence
However, in our defense, the latest scientific research states that people who swear have a higher level of intelligence. It may also have mental and physical health benefits. I will just leave you with those thoughts to ponder.
And then they were done
Lori and Anita finished their longest run yet. We all survived our 15 mile run in pleasant temperatures on a beautiful Sunday in superb company. It was a great morning.
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by Matt Fitzgerald, author of 80/20 Running
Before you go, let me tell you about my cure for writer’s block
Speaking of superb company, I have to tell you this little side story before you leave. I wasn’t feeling the greatest on the day I wrote this article. My brain was fuzzy and I was struggling to type any words on my blank computer screen. So, I packed a lunch, grabbed a coffee from Timmies and headed out for a picnic in search of some inspiration. I ended up at the Terry Fox Monument just outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario. And it was the perfect place for this cancer survivor be inspired to write about running. I wrote this entire post that morning with Terry’s statue watching over me.
Terry Fox is my hero
Terry Fox is a National Canadian Hero, who really never understood why people called him a hero. He had a dream to see a cure for cancer. Cancer took his leg, and later, his life. He set out to raise money for cancer research by running across Canada in 1980. Running on one leg and a prosthetic limb, he averaged a marathon every single day for 143 days of his journey, covering over 3,300 miles.
His journey ended just outside of Thunder Bay on September 1. Cancer ended his run, but not his dream. He achieved his goal of raising $1 from every single Canadian to a total of over $24 million. It has gone a long way to fund cancer research.
Terry Fox died in June 1981, but his legacy continues with fundraising efforts of the Terry Fox Foundation. I am and have always been inspired by Terry’s courage and determination. He may not have understood why, but to me, and so many others, he is a hero.
Thank you for reading my story of Week Nine of our Marathon Challenge. If you enjoyed this article, please sign up for the Pink Ribbon Runner Newsletter so that you can follow the Struggle Busters trio on their quest for a finishers medal in the Twin Cities Metronics Marathon.