Friday, December 11, 2015

Top 5 Running Moments

Something I love about running is that it continually pushes me past the limit I previously thought I was capable of.  I try to sign up for races that will push me past my comfort zone.  It makes the thrill of crossing the finish line that much better.  Below are my top 5 running moments that I'm most proud of:

     5.  URINEO 50M
This was the first time I went past the 50K distance.  There's no better place I like to run than Mill Creek Park.  There's plenty of scenery and landmarks to distract you from the mileage.  The terrain is surprisingly technical for Ohio, so you have to watch each step especially in certain sections.  This was a big mental barrier to overcome.  Being a 6-loop course, there are many temptations to stop.  Add in a warm log cabin filled with runners enjoying good eats for one of NEO Trail's premier events, and the last couple loops are daunting.
 

     4.  Oil Creek 100K

Finishing 50 miles at URINEO the year before gave me confidence to push it a little further in 2012.  I had watched my brother and sister run at Oil Creek before and knew I'd like to enter it some year.  I ran Pikes Peak Marathon a couple months prior, so I was in pretty good shape but didn't have quite the endurance training I would've liked.  I battled through muscle soreness and knee pain that I hadn't felt in races before.  It was a two loop course and, as it always seems to be the case in a race longer than 50K, I had to battle through thoughts of quitting.  My body told my mind that it was too tired, but prior race experiences told me to weather the highs and lows that always occur during a long race.  I was able to battle through all of this and earn my first buckle!
 

         3.  Pikes Peak Marathon
My dad and brother completed this race in the past, so this was one I really wanted to do.  From watching my dad run in it when I was little and riding up to the top of the mountain in the cog train, I knew of the beauty this race had to offer.  I trained by doing hill repeats at Firestone Metro Park, but there isn't anything in Ohio that can prepare you for the altitude.  I went out to Colorado the week before and even spent a couple nights in Leadville, America's highest city.  I climbed a mountain while out there which actually seemed to help.  I think I was on such a high out there having a blast that all the energy I spent the week prior didn't matter.  I didn't expect this race to be as hard as it turned out to be.  I underestimated the effect altitude has on you.  However, I love downhill running so the second half of the race was great.  Finally hitting pavement and crossing the finish line was a thrill, as you can tell by the photo below.

        2.  Boston Marathon (2008 & 2010)
The Boston Marathon is the grandaddy of all road marathons and the oldest annually held marathon in the world.  I qualified for the first time at the 2007 Columbus Marathon with about a minute and a half to spare.  What made it really special was that my sister also qualified at that race.  I also qualified at the 2009 Cleveland Marathon with a comfier 3 minutes to spare :)   Both years at Boston, I intentionally slowed down and enjoyed everything the race has to offer.  As I neared the finish, the sense of accomplishment hit me both years and I got chills and a couple watery eyes.
      
        1.  Speedgoat 50K
I wasn't sure how to rank these.  Maybe this one is at the top because it was the most recent and the freshest on my mind.  But I'll say one thing;  This was a hell of a race.  It's labeled the toughest 50K in the U.S. with 11k ft of climb and hitting 11k ft elevation 3 times.  I ranked this one first because of the difficulty of the course, the struggle I overcame due to lack of training and the fact that it was the closest I had come to DNF'ing a race, with about 5 minutes to spare at the final cutoff at mile 22.

I hope my top running moment is always my previous major race.  That means I'm pushing myself further each time.  There will be a point in time where pushing it further just isn't in the cards, but I hope that is a long ways away.  Regardless, the primary joy of running will always remain in a simple 5 mile run.  I feel if that joy is lost, then the motivation required to train for an event which pushes your limits further will also cease.