One of the things I love and hate about running is that every run is different. Some days you’ll head out expecting a horrible run and you’ll PR by accident and then some days you get out there, and even when you give it every ounce you have, you still feel like you failed since you didn’t meet your mileage or pace goal.
In fact, this is one of the reasons that I’m not putting too much pressure on myself for my upcoming marathon. Each day I put a ton of pressure on myself in my career, which I love, but I need running to be my outlet. Therefore, this morning as Meghann and I ran I told her that my goal for the marathon is to beat last year’s time of 5:06. If it’s 5:05:59 I’ll be happy! For me, at this point in my life, running is my stress reliever after a long day of work or the best part of waking up in the morning. The last thing I want to do is add more stress to my life.
Therefore, instead of looking back on today’s run as a failure, I am remembering it as a 20 mile run completed in beautiful and very scenic Tampa with one of my best friends and the best running cheerleader I’ve ever had the opportunity to meet!
After seven hours of sleep I jumped up this morning, quietly made my pre-run breakfast of a bagel thin and peanut butter and got dressed in the bathroom; doing my best not to wake Bo. Having a pile all prepared definitely helps when you’re trying to get ready quickly in a foreign hotel room.
I met Meghann in front of my hotel at 6:05, ready to rock our run! We both wore at least one piece of Lululemon which spurred a discussion about the brand, prices, and quality. One thing’s for sure, I’m a running skirt convert! Running in this skirt was so much fun and I had ZERO chafing issues. If it ends up being above 50 degrees on marathon day I’ll be rocking this skirt! I’m not going to lie, I think it’s the most becoming article of running clothing I own!
My tour guide had a great running route planned for us which included Harbor Island, Davis Island, and Bayshore Boulevard. While I’ve been to Tampa before, it’s been ages and my visits were historically limited to the waterways where our rowing team competed many a Saturday during high school.
Our first few miles were done in the dark and I was thankful when, by mile 5, it was light enough to see the sights. The first miles flew by as we talked about living with men, Meghann and Derek’s recent cruise, travel, and races.
Around mile 10, just as we were leaving Davis Island, my left leg started getting really tight. I’ve never felt a pain like this before but it was a radiating pain in my quad. No matter what I did or how many times I paused to stretch, it didn’t really help. I told Meghann at this point that we may need to reduce our speed but that I was finishing the 20 miles even if I needed to do a run/walk combination. While many people disagree, and I don’t normally advocate the run walk method, I know that part of doing a 20 miler is just getting your body accustomed to moving for that duration of time.
Around mile 15 I decided to focus on run/walk versus stretch breaks because I didn’t want my muscles to get tighter and I wanted to be done. At this point, Meghann really turned into my running cheerleader. I told her I didn’t want “ra ra giddy” type stuff but instead just something to keep me going. She told me the story of her best and worst marathon experience, how blessed she is to have Kelly as a running cheerleader, and about her future goals and adventures. It was during these miles that I realized just how close a friend Meghann has become. I felt zero shame about my legs even though I knew thousands of people would see that it wasn’t a wonderful run. She stuck with me even though we were running a completely straight path and I told her more than once that she could run ahead and I’d be fine!
By the time we reached the front of my hotel I was more than ready to be done. I think 19.63 miles is close enough to 20 and you know what, I’m going to spend four hours dancing tonight which will just compensate for those 4 tenths of a mile. It wasn’t fast, clocking in at 3:47, but it was still faster than my marathon pace last year and we finished!
I quickly headed upstairs for an ice bath and banana, happy to be done and looking forward to hours of poolside fun all afternoon!