The Road Less Traveled . . .

Today was my long run day. In the past that meant that I went out on my own and ran wherever the road led and wherever I felt like going. But for the last couple of weeks, I have been meeting up with my friends Stephanie, Kara, and the ICan marathon group and completing my long runs with friends. The ICan group is a group that are preparing for their first full or half marathon. Led by Coach Loran Storts, we lengthen our runs in preparation for the marathon. Coach Loran also gives out fitness advice, suggestions to remember on race day, after run stretching and activity tips, and even brought along a case of water so we could keep hydrated. He rides back and forth on his bicycle since the group usually splinters into smaller groups due to running speed. And, believe it or not, he does this all for free! He does have a training center, Ironworks, that helps with triathlon training. Trust me, you should check him out!

Now back to today’s run. Coach Loran had us meet in the east village at 6am. The early start was due to the potential heat we would be suffering through today. His hope was that we would finish before it got miserably hot.

He had us meet in the village instead of our usual bike trail for a reason: He wanted us to run the hills on the actual marathon route! Now, I thought I had done some hill training, by running downtown on a regular basis, but I was not prepared for this! These hills are steep for being in Des Moines (South of Grand Area), and as one hill ended it seemed that another began! It was brutal, and as we came out of the area we were congratulating each other on a job well done.

I can see the logic in Coach Loran’s thinking. Now we know what we are up against. Now we’ve seen what the marathon will throw at us, and we will not be surprised. Now we know how and where to run to get the hill practice in. When race day arrives, we will not be in the group of runners that say “Oh my God” and stop and walk up the hills. This happened at the Drake/Hy Vee half marathon, and I was almost one of them. But, because of stubbornness and training, I powered through those hills quite like I powered through these today. It also showed me that even though I thought I was doing hill training, I should look up the course route ahead of time and see where I am going and train appropriately.

We ran back downtown, then to Gray’s Lake, and finally back to the start. When it was over, I logged in 18.02 miles and over 2000 calories burned. I also learned that having friends around you makes the challenges of life (or running) easier to deal with. We talked and laughed our way through the hills, and come race day, those happy memories will return once more to help me get past them again.

Tomorrow will be a rest/recovery day. Maybe something light like a walk or swimming. 18 mile boundary is now a thing of the past. The 20 mile boundary cannot be too far behind.

Live happy, be healthy.

Travis

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