Number 12! It’s been a couple years, but I got back to Madison. I’m glad, too. I really like the race. Madison is great! You get to run by the massive lake that is central to the town, you get the mix of capitol city, university, and nature, and it just is super pretty (maybe not Minnesota pretty, but glass houses and whatnot). That said, I’m not sure how I finished it. That’s not false modesty, I don’t know how. Even in good conditions the Madison course is *tough*. Its elevation changes will throw you and your leg beef for a loop. It’s a constant up and down. There is no Hill™️ to climb, you’ll be doing it the whole course. On top of that, the day before it started to snow, and the temps dropped like a rock. I almost just called it there. I might should have. The race started at 7 am and the temps were below freezing. I’m just glad I packed appropriately. I had four layers, two pairs of gloves, hand warmers, and a balaclava. I don’t think I could have dropped any of it. Also, I arrived at the race like not a minute too late. There were problems with a parking pay terminal which had me entering the corral as the announcer said “GO!”. I didn’t have all my gear on, my watch started, or my headphones connected. I felt like I was running and juggling, and I had to pee. I stopped about three miles in to just adjust everything, but damn. That’s what I mean, given everything I’m surprised I made it. But I did, and I’m glad, too. A minute faster. I didn’t make a huge dent in times, but I was faster than the last one. And I finished. Even though Madison remains probably the hardest course, I’ve now done it twice, and my PR of 4:19 was here! Madison rips, go visit! Also, I thought I might be done for the year, but I did just sign up for another race before 2022 wraps. It’s a sickness.
2022 has been a bear, personally. Mentally and physically my body has had enough and forced me to deal with stuff at this moment. No more putting it off. That doesn’t really bode well for planning purposes. With that, I did not get enough training and miles in as I had in years past. It shows in the time and how challenging the race was for me. 5:25:20 is my slowest recorded time, by a large margin. Am I beating myself up about it? Hell no! I fought for that time. A finish is a finish, and I finished that thing as fast as I could that day. As alluded to, I was fighting some health stuff and on corticosteroids when I was running (still am!). At the half-way mark I was thinking about throwing in the towel as I was just so beat up. I just kept lying to myself. Re-evaluate at 16, re-evaluate at 18. 18! The wall. It always hits me at 18. I just start seeing red and wonder why I ever chose to do this. Then you hit 20. Only a 10k left. After 22 you will finish. You can do anything for 4 miles. And then you do. Euphoria, pain, exhaustion, it hits you all at once. There is nothing quite like marathons, at least for me. I don’t have many friends who like running like I do (and that’s ok!), so it’s usually a solitary experience. Rarely do I talk to anyone, but I’m glad there was a picture that got snapped of a guy I did get to run with for a few miles. As his shirt says, that’s Dan. He’s 75, from Iowa, and that was his 12th marathon. He started running at 60 after he retired as a high school English teacher of 40 years. He talked about how much running has done for him. I sure hope I end up like Dan at 60 and 75. Sure, I hope to keep running races, but also to keep pushing myself to do stuff, even if it’s hard, especially when I doubt myself. That’s a long way of saying that number 11 is in the damn books. Number 12 is in Madison next month and sitting here with sore legs I am looking forward to it all over again; at least until mile 18. It may seem like this is all personally grit or whatever, but it wouldn’t be possible without support. Individualism is a trap. It is always friends, family, and community.
This past weekend I finished my 9th (closing in on those double digits!) marathon and first one in 2 years. Lemme tell you, it felt like my first one in 2 years. It was grueling and I’m still so glad I was able to manage it after the wreckage that has been this pandemic. Ever week that got closer I was racked with self-doubt if I was still trained up enough to run it. My time was not was what it was before, and I will happily accept that as I gain a footing again. Ready for more punishment in New York (NYC BABYEEE) in a few weeks.
Minneapolis remains one of my absolute favorite races and cities. Hands down the prettiest race I’ve done to date.