2021 Running Update

This year has not gone at all as planned. Months ago, I threw many of my running goal out the window. This year, running has caused me more stress and anxiety than it should. I found myself with no interest in completing long runs, finding excuses to push back my running for the day until I had to reduce my planned mileage for the day. At times this manifested itself physically, which scared the hell out of me until I realized it wasn’t some weird or scary illness, it was just physical symptoms of stress (not all running related).

I let go of my distance goals, and allowed myself to run what I felt like running. I took a couple of breaks where I didn’t run or do strength training; I took a couple more breaks due to colds/allergies. I focused on my city completion goals instead – although I think this ended up to my detriment. l ran a lot of entirely joyless routes this year in my quest to complete all the streets of St. Paul (and other cities). I could have been off on trails or running favorite routes instead of running industrial roads or dodging litter. I learned important things about this city while traversing its streets, but the monotony started to wear on me.

I’ll still hit a lot of the goals I set back in February. As of today, I’ve completed Lilydale, Mendota Heights, and South St. Paul, plus I also completed Mendota. I’m at 95.65% of St. Paul, with many other streets close to complete. I have a plan for how I want to finish it out and where I want my last run to take me. I’m also at 18.56% of St. Louis Park, with not a heck of a lot of effort put into it. I even made a little progress on Alfred, Maine while I was on vacation!

I haven’t run any races. I thought about running Wild Duluth and just seeing how it went. I can hike 31 miles if I need to, I figured. I held off and decided not to – my heart wasn’t in it, and I was letting silly externalities get to me, so I knew on race day that would only get worse and make it so easy to DNF. Or DNS. I decided instead to run Icebox 480, the last race I ran before the pandemic hit, but I waffled on signing up and wound up with a cold so I was glad I didn’t run it. I got really anxious to race after seeing everyone having a blast at the Twin Cities Marathon, but I’m just not quite ready yet. It turns out that focusing on completing streets is detrimental to completing long runs, speed workouts, and pretty much everything else related to racing, whether for a 5K or an ultra. Once I’m done with St. Paul, I’m not going to be hyper-focused on completing streets (although I still plan to mix that in) in order to get speed and endurance back, as well as my mental training.

I haven’t felt much like writing about running in months – I’ve been keeping my running journal but I haven’t wanted to write anything on this site (or the hockey fan site I’ve had for almost two decades), partially because there’s not much to say, partially because I haven’t had a lot of mental energy to write. My brainpower was being used up at work and I had nothing left to give creatively; this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I have accomplished a lot at work and enjoy what I do, but it really stunk that by the end of the day, I had such severe decision fatigue that I couldn’t handle something as simple as my mom asking me what kind of sauce I wanted for my birthday spaghetti dinner.

There’s a story in here somewhere, or a lesson, or at least a question. Most people talk about how important running is to their mental health; I almost never see anyone talking about running being detrimental to their mental health unless it’s in the context of an eating disorder. I have no external pressures to run; it’s not my profession, I’m not in running groups where people count on me to show up, and I don’t have some large audience here to whom I’m beholden. And yet the internal pressures got to me. This summer I slowed down so much, partially due to the heat, partially due to the routes I was running (like I said, completing streets is counterproductive to speedwork or hills, and it takes a LOT of planning to do a long run), and of course in very large part due to my not giving a crap mental approach to running. Slowing down meant every run took longer, which ate away at me. If you’re a fast or medium-ish runner, I want you to understand how much it sucks that it takes an hour or more to run a simple 5 mile workout, which was true even before this summer’s slowdown. Then add in the time it takes to get to and from wherever I started – running was a total time suck. I really hated it, but I wasn’t in the right headspace to try to get faster, so I just gritted my teeth and got it done. You know those platitudes about how you never regret doing a run, you only regret not running? I can’t say that I regretted any runs but I came out a lot of them not much better, and it the best I can say after a run is that I avoided feeling guilty about not running, that’s not great. I mean once in awhile, yeah, that’s going to happen, but most of the time? That’s bad.

Am I on the other side of this? Maybe. I felt great completing South St. Paul (yesterday) and Mendota Heights (a few weeks ago). I was happy to get back to running and smiling during my runs this past weekend, after I took 9 days off due to a cold plus work obligations. But that’s only a few days, and coincided with a four day weekend, so we’ll see how things go when I return to work (I’m back in the office twice a week, so I’ve got to tack on a commute at the end of the day) and am stuck running in the dark thanks to the time change. My hope is to finish up St. Paul this month (I have a few really awful, long, industrial roads I’m avoiding), and then work on a plan to increase my mileage and get back on trails, so that I can be in race shape once something comes along that interests me.

I still haven’t bought a bike.

2021 Running Goals

I have no idea what 2021 will look like in terms of racing, training, or pretty much anything else running or not running related. I’ve decided to keep my year-long running goals limited to what’s entirely in my control, and if things change, if racing becomes more of a feasible option for me, then I’ll set some season-specific goals.

I created the skeleton first draft of this post on January 1st, and here I am over a month later finally getting around to finishing it. I guess that shows how seriously I’m taking my plans for this year. I have been keeping them in mind, though!

  1. Finish St. Paul (54.12% completed as of 12/31/20), Mendota Heights (23.47% completed), South St. Paul (5.6% completed), and Lilydale (42.86% completed); Get to 30% completion in my hometown of St. Louis Park (4.15% completed).
    Since June of 2020, I’ve been working on running every street in St. Paul. It was a great motivator, having something challenging and interesting to work toward, as well as a way to explore all kinds of interesting places in my city. Along the way, I started adding in other cities (I completed all of West St. Paul last year!), and I’m also working on Minneapolis now, although I’m holding off on setting a specific completion goal for Minneapolis until I’ve completed the cities I’m working on now.
  2. Complete a Myrtl routine at least 50% of the time.
    I have dealt off and on with some minor hip issues this year; they go away with rest, but one of my goals for this year is to prevent hip/pelvic pain with a flexibility regimen. I don’t actually do all of the exercises in the routine linked above; I skip 3-4 and 6-9. I don’t have any professional advice that told me what’s necessary and what’s not, so perhaps I’m missing some key benefit by skipping those exercises. I just find it uncomfortable to be in “table position” for so many exercises, and I don’t have a place where I can do the hurdle leg exercises without kicking something. So far I have done a Myrtl routine every day in 2021, and I have found it very effective against the pain I had been experiencing last year.
  3. Do 110 pushups a day.
    In 2019 and 2020, one of my goals was to do 100 pushups a day. I didn’t come close in 2019, but in 2020 I did a much better job and pushups became part of my daily routine. I decided to add 10% to my goal from last year. I’m trying to complete the exercises earlier in the day this year, too; in 2020 I was often doing them before bedtime because I’d forgotten or pushed them off. I’m not bothering to track whether I do my pushups before midnight, so it’s not a formal goal, just a consideration. I think making pushups a habit in 2020 is making it very simple for me to meet my Myrtl goals so far in 2021.
  4. Increase my mileage 10% over last year.
    Since I’m increasing my pushups goal by 10%, I thought increasing my mileage 10% over last year was fitting. In the past I’ve set my sights on just beating the previous year, and that ends up being a very small increase in mileage. Does it matter if I run 1700 miles one year and 1701 the next year? It’s essentially the same thing. I think a 10% increase in yearly mileage is significant enough to challenge me, but won’t be such a great increase that it leads to injury or burnout. This year’s goal will be 1912 miles.
  5. Buy a bike.
    I have money saved (actually, I have money saved for two bikes, one for me and one for my husband). I know where I want to purchase one. I just need to do it.
  6. Run 5 more long runs than last year.
    I found that I did just the bare minimum to reach my goal of “more long runs than last year” in 2020, although I didn’t have any races, so I think that things turned out pretty good. Adding 5 long runs on to last year’s goal will be more of a challenge, especially since so many of my long runs came from my solo FANS effort in August, but I’ll need more long runs if I plan to increase my mileage. Long runs in this case are considered double-digit mileage, and will include days where I do split mileage. Long skis are included, should I actually do a 10 mile ski.

I’ll keep my eyes out for good options for interesting run locations, virtual race options, and maybe an in-person option for a really worthwhile race, and take things as they come this year.

2020 Goals Revisited

It’s incredible to think about my outlook on life when I wrote these goals. It was the absolute height of American privilege for me to think that the COVID-19 pandemic was something that would happen in other countries, not in the US, and something that would be over quickly. The past 4-5 years have shown me how many things I have been taking for granted and it’s a shamefully long list.

I was still able to accomplish some of the goals that I set – that’s one advantage of setting very high-level, general goals. Some of my multi-year goals will have to be put off until 2022, since there’s still so much uncertainty regarding this pandemic and so many people who are committed to prolonging it. There’s also growing violence from insurrectionists and traitors around the country that could make running or traveling unsafe.

  1. Run a distance personal best.
    I could have done this, I guess, by doing FANS on my own or just setting a personal goal to run 50 miles in a day. It seemed like a poor idea to weaken my immune system with such a strenuous effort, and with facilities like restrooms closed at state parks, doing a long FANS day would have been a bad idea.
  2. Complete more long runs than I did in 2019.
    I made it! I did 29 long runs vs. 28 in 2019! That’s pretty good considering I ran no organized races and thus didn’t have any training runs. I also did fewer “split” runs; more of my double digit mileage days in 2020 were from single runs rather than 2 or 3 runs that added up to more than 10 miles.
  3. Do 100 push-ups a day.
    I averaged 107.9 pushups during the year, and the last day that I skipped was August 5th when I wasn’t feeling well. There were only 16 days during the year that I did not complete at least 100 pushups — even though sometimes I was doing them at bedtime. I wish I’d taken a “before” shot to see how buff my arms have gotten over the year.
  4. Start cross-country skiing again.
    It took until Christmas Day to make this happen, but I went skiing 4 times! I need to get better at waxing now. There are so many places to go that aren’t that far away.
  5. Run a new marathon.
    Obviously this was not an option for me this year, but I did run a solo Twin Cities marathon, so that’s kind of a new marathon?
  6. Buy a bike.
    I don’t have a new bike. This is because of my own stupidity. My company “wellness dollars” onto a rewards debit card and I have been hoarding those dollars for years. On the day my husband and I went to purchase new bikes (for his birthday), I discovered that the “special spot” that I had kept my rewards card was not so special, and while I tore my office apart looking to the card, it appeared that the card got swept into the trash at some point. I ordered a replacement but it was a huge rigmarole that took a long time and cost me like $10 and we never got around to ordering the bikes. This year is our year!

I also ran in two new counties and three new state parks. That’s much lower than I’d like in a normal year, but I chose to stay in the metro area, especially during the time when outstate Minnesota was not yet experiencing many cases of COVID-19. Once I start traveling for work again (or for fun!), I’ll be able to catch some new parks and counties and make more progress on those goals. And maybe combine those goals with my new marathon per year goals!

The only goal I feel truly disappointed about missing is the last one, because there was no reason beyond my own disorganization that kept me from making that goal. As a matter of fact, I just went downstairs and verified that the new card is exactly where I placed it for safekeeping, and it was. I’m learning from my mistakes!

The Art of Losing

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

– Elizabeth Bishop

Yesterday I headed out for what I thought would be a short run at Lebanon Hills Park, a place I’ve run a dozen times before. I got started a bit late in the day, but I’d decided to do a short run since my hips have been bothering me and I would only be out there for an hour, so I knew I’d have daylight left. I didn’t take anything besides my car key since I was only going for a short run and I didn’t have any zippered pockets big enough for my phone. The parking lot was a bit full, so I decided I’d run the cross-country ski/horse trails that are normally off-limits to hikers due to either groomed trails or equine traffic, depending on the season. (I realize people still hike those trails despite the rules but I’m a stickler for following trail rules. And I hate horses.) Because I was unfamiliar with the trails, when I turned to add what I thought was just an extra half mile or so, I ended up heading in the wrong direction (you can see on the map below where I turned around and retraced my steps in the center-east section of the park), adding time and mileage to my run.

I realized at this point that I was going to have to get my butt in gear, because the sun was starting to go down, and I started checking the maps at each intersection to make sure I was on the right track. Things were going well until I missed a turn and continued to go south when I wanted to go west. I ended up at a road that dead-ended with private driveways, and I was having a hard time reading the trail maps due to the rapidly disappearing twilight, so I finally decided I’d just take that road and eventually get back to a major street that I could take back to the parking lot.

Except that when I turned onto that road, I thought that I was heading south instead of west. And the road was much longer and lonelier than I thought – there were only a few houses along the way and what I should have done was stopped at one of those houses and asked for help. There was a good opportunity as a group was outside having a fire, but I was feeling stupid and embarrassed and decided to continue with my plan. I thought that I’d come out at what shows up as McAndrews Rd on the map, I’d take a right turn, and then another right turn to end up on Pilot Knob Rd. It would be a long walk, but I’d make it.

When I finally got to the end of the road (I wasn’t really certain it actually went through – I just guessed based on the fact that it ended in a dead end in the opposite direction), I was so shaken up and confused and full of self doubt that I decided to abandon my plan, and ask for help. I heard some kids playing basketball at a house nearby and headed in that direction. I walked through a field of long grasses/prickly-stemmed plants/burrs to get to the house, asked the kids if their parents were home, and the world’s nicest people asked me in (even though I didn’t have a mask!) and drove me back to my car at the trailhead. I was so incredibly grateful and relieved, although I had one final moment of horror as I reached into the zippered pocket in my pants and pulled out only the carabiner that my key is attached to, not the key itself — but the key was in my pocket too, it had just separated itself while I was running.

This morning I woke up and couldn’t stop obsessing over all the things that went wrong and that could have gone even worse. I could have ended up wandering around in the woods. I could have gotten chilled and become hypothermic – I was sweaty but also not dressed in warm clothes. I could have not been at a spot close to a road. I could have been pig-headed and refused to swallow my pride and ask for help, and wandered around and around in an area I wasn’t familiar with. I could have been unable to find a house that had people home to help. (Unlikely, since people are home most of the time.)

There are so many decisions I made that led to my predicament. Putting on my quality engineering hat, I can pinpoint all the mistakes that I made along the way:

  • I started running later in the day than planned. I wanted to start around 3:15 but ended up starting at 3:50, which meant I had less daylight.
  • I got too warm in my car, which meant I was a little bit sweaty to start.
  • I wore clothing that didn’t have a secure pocket large enough for my phone, so I chose not to carry it.
  • I decided not to put on my headlamp (which was in my bag!) because I didn’t think I’d need it, although I did consider bringing it.
  • I ran unfamiliar trails.
  • I got “greedy” and thought I could add another half mile or so to my run because I didn’t think I’d get “enough” mileage.
  • I didn’t start reading trail maps soon enough, once I realized that I needed to start heading back.
  • I assumed more than once that I was heading in a correct direction without verifying that was true.
  • I misread the trail maps a couple times.

Even with all of those mistakes and all the things that went wrong, all of the worry and fear and danger could have been avoided if I’d just carried my phone or my headlamp so I could have read the trail maps. Even if I still made all the wrong turns, I wouldn’t have had to walk all the way down 120th St W if I’d had some source of light and/or method of navigation and/or way to call for help. You can bet that I won’t be going on a run for awhile without my phone on me, even if it’s just a short one.

I’m naturally a more cautious person when it comes to physical risks, so this incident has really thrown me. I try to remind myself that I did end up making some good choices, and that once I got out of the woods I wasn’t in any real danger (I passed some other houses where I could have asked for help, I could have flagged down a motorist, etc.), but the what ifs keep rolling around in my mind. This situation has also caused me to question if I have any business trying to run an ultra that goes into the night. Of course that’s a ridiculous question, because while things can go wrong during a night ultra, I’ll also be going in there more prepared because I will know I’m running at night.

Hopefully writing all this out helps purge this incident from my head, or at least the immediacy that it induces in my brain. I hope it also serves as a reminder to help people in need – I think about all the anecdotes I read about people who don’t answer their doors, don’t answer strange numbers on their phones, don’t talk to strangers, who wall themselves off from anyone they don’t know. I am extremely lucky that the first house I approached was owned by kind, generous, big-hearted people; I will remember that and look for ways in my life to seize opportunities to show the same generosity they did toward me.

Fall 2020 Running Goals Revisited

I COMPLETED EVERY GOAL!!!!!! FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!!!!!!!

  1. Complete 45% of St. Paul streets.
    As of last night, I’m at 50.04% completion, which is exciting!

    I’ve still got large chunks of the East Side, Payne-Phalen, Frogtown, and Midway to do – including the street where my first home was! There are some bits and pieces of downtown left, as well as some roads near the airport and in the Battle Creek area, and one tiny little street in Highland Park that I keep forgetting about.
  2. Complete 25% of West St. Paul streets.
    This ended up being easier than I thought. I had the CityStrides site owner do a manual refresh at one point and I think that pushed me almost to 25% on its own. I have complete 58.39% of West St. Paul as of 11/30. My husband is at about 78% of it right now and will probably complete it entirely in the next couple weeks! I’m a bit curious if I can finish it before the end of the year, but I’m also trying to focus diversifying my running a bit more.
  3. Run a solo Twin Cities Marathon.
    I did it on October 11th! It really sucked, but I am also really pleased that I completed it.
  4. Get caught up and ahead on YTD mileage over last year.
    Done! I’m 48.57 mi ahead of where I was 11/30/19. If I’m healthy and motivated, I should be on track to have my highest mileage year ever! I just knocked on wood.
  5. Run 3 new trails/parks in the Twin Cities metro area.
    I’m glad that I checked back on my goals for the fall, because I almost forgot about this one. I ran at Keller Lake Park in early November. The trails there aren’t very long, but they do connect to Lake Phalen so it’s easy to add in extra trail mileage.

On a gorgeous, 70F day a few weeks later, I ran at Elm Creek, which I know is a favorite of many trail running friends. It was lovely, and there are still plenty of miles left there for me to explore. And I can ski there too! If there’s ever snow.

I did a 10 miler on the Rice Creek Regional Trail (with some street running since I didn’t quite figure out where the trail went once in Circle Pines) – due to some poor planning I had to do the final mile or so by moonlight, but it worked out okay.

I got in a couple bonus locations – an additional section of Spring Lake Park, and a little trail in Marydale Park in the North End.

I think this is the first time I’ve ever met all my goals! That’s exciting! Yes, some of them were easy, but I did also run a solo marathon. I’ve also failed to meet easy goals before, so there’s no guarantee that I’d be able to do everything on this list – I had to do all 3 of the new metro area trails in the month of November in order to squeeze in that goal, thanks to poor planning and a poor memory.

I do like setting goals I might not achieve; I think there’s value in the struggle. I don’t necessarily consider it a bad thing to miss some of the goals I lay out at the beginning of the year/season/race. It’s only a bad thing if I fall short because I didn’t even try. It also makes it that much sweeter when I do accomplish everything I set out to.

As usual, I don’t plan to set any specific winter (Dec-Feb) goals. I’ve got plenty to keep me motivated with my long-term goals, plus I’ll set year-long goals at the beginning of next month. I do have a couple other things in mind to end the year (like a big run on the Solstice) and a few 2020 goals that haven’t been ticked off the list yet, so that should keep December interesting.

The Setting of the Sun

Pour one out for my headlamp.

The other day I picked it up from the tote where I store my running stuff and it wouldn’t turn on. I figured the batteries were dead, that it had accidentally gotten stored with the power button depressed, but when I changed the batteries it still didn’t work (and there was plenty of corrosion product in the battery compartment, ugh). So as we head into the darkest part of the year, I’m left without illumination. Good thing there was a sale at REI so I could order a new one at a discount! Perhaps we could call that… the light at the end of the tunnel? How many metaphors can I use here?

I suppose I should consider myself lucky this year, that I don’t have a commute to tack on at the end of my workday, so I can head out before the sun sets and get part of my run done in the fading daylight. I went out anyway yesterday, sticking to suburban streets that weren’t too busy and wearing a light-colored jacket and a reflective vest. The streetlights did an ok job, I suppose, although there were a few places that weren’t well-lit (and didn’t have sidewalks!) I’m still not really looking forward to running in the dark.

I’ll get used to it, like I do every year, and before I know it, I’ll have some usable daylight at the end of my workday, but it’s getting tough to imagine getting in more than 4-5 miles in the evenings for the next few months, especially when I factor in the cold on top of the darkness. I feel like I can’t recall if the adjustment period is always rocky, or if this year is worse, or if I’m just in a funky mood right now and it’s going to be fine in a couple days. (The weather is warming slightly for the next week so that’s probably a yes, if an impermanent one.)

Now would probably be a good time to revisit some of the well-lit trails in the area that I’ve set aside in favor of my street-running goals. It might also be a good time to reconsider a lunch run — even if it’s just a few short miles with a second run in the evening. Something to get me outside during daylight, since I’m not going to the office, grabbing lunch, taking a walk with colleagues, or bathing in the glow of OSHA-approved foot-candles of light. And of course I’ll have a brand-new, slightly fancier headlamp to test out once it arrives next week! Overall it seems like the best strategy is to find any small thing that I can do to make running slightly easier while the elements conspire to make running significantly harder. Any and all tried-and-true coping suggestions are welcome!

Race Report: Twin Cities Marathon (Solo)

That was an experience I don’t care to repeat.

Watch Results:
Time: 7:02:58
Pace: 15:12
Distance: 27.81 mi
Heart Rate: N/A

Goals:
A: 6:00
B: 6:30

Food:
What I ate the night before: solo deep dish pizza, slice of cheesy garlic bread
What I ate on race morning: cereal, energy bar
What I carried with me: water (2L), gels

Gear:
What I wore: t-shirt, shorts, trucker hat
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker, hydration pack

Discussion: Well. Nothing went as anticipated, which is to be expected when I do almost no planning.

I thought I could be footloose and fancy-free about this race since the stakes were low, but when I turned the lights off to go to sleep on Friday night, anxiety descended upon me just like it does during a regular race. I don’t know how much sleep I got, but it wasn’t much and it wasn’t restful. Since I was making my own schedule, I figured I could set my alarm for an hour or so later and eke out a little more sleep. Nope. I woke up before that alarm, despite being exhausted. Disappointing.

I hadn’t done much prepping the night before, and while there wasn’t much to do, I wish I’d spent that little extra time putting gels and supplies in my pack and writing out the race route, just to shave off a bit of time. I ate part of a bowl of cereal, until I couldn’t shovel any more food into my mouth, and during the drive to the race start, I ate an energy bar. This was definitely not enough food! I generally underfuel for races (not on purpose, I just haven’t figured out what works), but this was exceptionally bad. I wanted to have my usual bagels but I dawdled on Friday and the bagel place was already closed. Since I started running much later in the day than I would for a regular race, I wasn’t able to rely on residual fuel from my dinner the night before. I didn’t consider that either.

I was able to conveniently park directly at the corner of Portland and 6th, the start of the race. It’s funny because to me, the race “starts” in front of US Bank Stadium, because I’m all the way back in the third corral. Here I was in the first corral, all by myself! (Side note: because the run took so long and then I relaxed at home for awhile, I had to pay $16 to park. Not my worst parking mistake ever, but woof!)

I made it all of a block on 6th before I hit a traffic light. I did not anticipate the impact that all these traffic lights would have on my run. When I was doing my solo 50k, I made up my own route, so I could skip the busy streets and the traffic lights. The TCM route goes down major streets, and without the street closures I was often stuck waiting at lights or stop signs. There were a few times I had to veer off course a bit to find the actual crosswalk or traffic light to safely cross the street. I probably could have crossed against the light a few times, but I am a rule follower by nature and as the race wore on, I didn’t trust my legs to be able to quickly get out of the way of an unexpected car.

While the first few miles of the race were fairly faithful to the race course, things started to get complicated when I got the Lake of the Isles. I couldn’t always count on a sidewalk or trail to be close to the road, and often times the trail that was closer to the road was the bike path. I ended up running on the curb or on the grass for most of the sections around the lakes as well as along Minnehaha Parkway. I hate running in grass, and while the curbs were wide enough to run along, I felt too close to traffic and worried all it took was one wrong step and I’d fall right in front of a car. Once I got past Minnehaha Falls and onto West River Rd, I was able to use the running path (for the most part), which was fine in some ways but also annoying because I was constantly stepping onto the grass or into the bikeway to try to maintain social distance. I am curious how much of the extra mileage I added as a result of adapting to the course without the closed roads, and how much was a result of normal GPS errors (like the giant error at the beginning when going under the Government Center). When I ran the marathon in 2018, my watch read 26.76 miles, which would imply that I added an extra mile of running with the little detours and deviations. That does seem a bit extreme – although I did also add an extra little bit by not remembering where the race ended.

This was my first time using the navigation feature on my watch – I created the route on the MovesCount site, uploaded it to my watch, and then used navigation mode for the race. I ended up not needing it, as the only time I got “off course” was the turn off Lake Harriet onto Minnehaha Parkway, when I took the right side of the creek instead of the left side of the creek, and yet I was still within the tolerances of the program. It did once tell me that I was going off course, but that was when I was finding a safer way to cross Lyndale. It also told me when I was at the end of my course so I knew when to stop running. (Silly me, it was past the actual finish line, but oh well.) It did also drain the battery quite a bit so I don’t really intend to use it that much. My watch went from nearly fully charged (maybe? It does fluctuate quite rapidly, it’ll say 85% charged and then when I attach it to the charge, will change to 71% or something – not thrilled with Suunto lately and probably won’t buy another watch from them, more on that at another time) down to 20%, and for a watch that’s supposed to be for ultrarunners, I feel like it should last a bit longer.

The run itself was nothing special. I walked a lot, although I definitely forced myself to run at times when I wanted to walk, so I guess I did some work on my mental game. I wanted to quit about a thousand times, but I didn’t, so hooray! I was clearly not trained to run a marathon, especially not lugging 2 liters of water with me (and yes I needed that much, I had less than 500 mL left when I finished), though I had hoped to finish it faster. I’m not sure if all the stops for traffic were a help or a hindrance to me – did the pause to recover help me go faster later, or did the pauses just increase my fatigue by drawing out the run longer?

I guess somewhere in my mind I was hoping I’d run faster, that my untrained self would somehow still be able to keep up a decent pace. I ended up running the exact same pace (per my watch/GPS) as I did for my 50K in the spring, which is kind of interesting. I do miss having something to train for – I suppose I could have trained for this, but eh. I’m never going to be able to treat a virtual/solo run like a real race and give it that same effort, so putting in a tough training block seems like a waste.

Maybe I do miss racing. I’d like the chance to train for and run a regular old marathon, and see if I can knock down my PR, get under 5 hours, etc. It’s sometimes fun to do big challenges like this on my own, but when the world emerges from this pandemic and we can have big events again, I’m going to be shelling out the $$$ for races again.