Sunday, March 27, 2011

Birthday Run

Last year, I was introduced to the concept of a birthday run.  Rachel decided to run marathons on back to back days to celebrate her birthday. Before this it had never occurred to me to run to commemorate special events. Since running with her last year I've adopted this concept myself.  Remembering my Grandma before her funeral, thanksgiving, christmas, and even my wedding have all been celebrated by running with friends.  It's a tradition now that started with Rachel and I'm truly grateful she included me last year to start it all off.

This year Rachel was going to do another marathon to celebrate her birthday, with my birthday being 1 day before hers I decided to join her as I also wanted to do something big for my birthday.  One night when a group of us were out running, Maggie suggested that we extend the event to 30 miles because I was turning 30.  This idea was well received and the birthday marathon became the birthday ultra.

The week leading up to the event Rachel was experiencing some pain in her legs and since she was not able to rule out the possibility of it being a stress fracture she decided she wouldn't be joining us for the run. I was disappointed to hear this, but I'm glad she's disciplined enough to do what needs to be done to heal up.  I know there will be other runs we'll have the chance to share in the future. Even though Rachel was injured she still planned out a route for us and came over to Maggie's to send us off in the morning. It was great to see her as we prepared to head out. Joining us on our run were a couple of faster runners from Grand Forks, David and Eric.  Although they had never met any of us in person, that had come to know Rachel online from following each others training. David had done this distance before, but today would be Eric's longest run.  They had some difficulty finding Maggie's house due to the messed up interchanges in Moorhead, but eventually they did find it and we headed off for our adventure.
David, Eric, Erin, Maggie, Jon, Jerry, Cory
We drove out to a small church southeast of Hawley, MN where the run would start.  Getting out of the vehicles and putting our gear on I noticed it was a bit cooler then I was expecting.  The temp was somewhere between 5° and 10° with a light breeze. As the entire group started off together, Jerry lead them in singing "Happy Birthday" to me.  I joked he finds any excuse he can to sing to me.  Cory and Erin were both a little concerned about some nagging injuries they have been experiencing so they would run a different route that would keep them close to where we parked in case they needed to cut the run short. Together they found the motivation to get in around 12 miles with neither one hurting too much. After about a mile, Jerry, Maggie, David, Eric and myself broke off from Erin and Cory and I had a chance to run on a couple of roads in the area that I'd never been on before. This first out and back took us west and then south of where we'd started.  The road heading west had some nice rolling hills and many trees lining the road.  When we turned South the road was much flatter, and was lined by fields instead of trees.  Heading south we fought the wind and several of us got out the masks we had brought along because of how cold it was feeling. I went a bit faster then I should have on this first out and back because I didn't want to hold the group back too much.  After about 13.5 we arrived back at the church and some of us made adjustments to our gear.  I dropped off my hydration pack and switched to a handheld bottle since Erin and Cory would drive along stopping every mile or so to provide support.  I also took this opportunity to eat a bacon sandwich.

Jerry continued on with us for a mile after our rest stop, but turned around after that because he wasn't going to do the full 30.  David, Eric, Maggie and I continued on south towards Rolag and some larger hills. The rolling hills were starting to get to me, it was very different from the flat ground I'm used to running on. 

The 30 mile club
The 8 miles heading south were among the most difficult I've ever run.  I wasn't doing a great job of staying on top of my fueling. Fortunately Maggie was keeping an eye on me and forced me to get some more calories down.  Near the turn around point Erin produced a 5 hour energy I had packed and suggested I take it.  It seemed to help, but my lower body was still hurting.  After the turn around things picked up for me mentally, I had 22 miles down, 8 to go and I had just run the route I would be returning on so there would be no surprises. My physical condition was another story, my body was screaming at me to stop. I wanted to sit, or lay down anything to take some weight off my legs and give them a chance to rest. I found some brief rest when I'd stop to refill my water bottles and could lean forward on the truck.  I was slouching more and more as I ran and Maggie kept reminding me to straighten up so I could breathe properly.  It was a struggle, but I forced myself to throw my shoulders back and hold my head up. About halfway back Maggie started to get excited about how far I'd gone, it was closing in on marathon distance and she was eager for me to go beyond that.  Not wanting to talk much I would just show her my Garmin when she asked how far I'd gone. Miles 27 and most of 28 either passed quickly or I was out of it enough that I don't really remember much of them. I do remember looking up and seeing the church looming on the hill ahead with a little more then a mile to go and thinking that I would need to run past it to get my 30 miles in.
Nearing the church and the end of the run
Somehow I was able to find a rhythm and started to pick up the pace once I could see where I would finish.  Although the last mile was uphill it was one of my fastest of the day.  I had misjudged how far away the church was and didn't need to run past.  It felt great to be done and everyone had some words of encouragement and congratulations for me.
Post run celebration

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jon,

    What a fantastic run! Congratulations on finishing the thirty miles, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY (a little late).