Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Joy of a Running Group and My Third Marathon

I first ran with the High Heel Running Group in April 2012. It was over two years later that I visited them again for a run. I know, what?! If memory serves, that second run was August-ish 2014.

That second run was good, there were only three of us, so that made it super easy for me to fit in to the group. The next few times I showed up I felt so incredibly intimidated. All these amazing trail running women and then lil' ol' me! Being an introvert who was very new to trail running, it was difficult for me to figure out where I fit in. After a few runs and getting to know a handful of group members more one-on-one, it got much easier. Faces became familiar. The route became second nature. I got more comfortable chatting with the girls. Then I even, (crazy!), made some friends. It's been a really fun group to not only run with, but use as a resource. The HHRG is literally the only reason I haven't deactivated my facebook account-- I need to keep up with what's happening with the group!

It isn't always easy for me to stick my neck out and make new friends, so I am glad this group exists, and that I have been not only outgoing enough, but patient enough with myself to find my place in it.

My very favorite thing  about the group runs is when I end up sharing a bunch of miles with another runner I just met at the trailhead and the conversation flows super easily.

Last Sunday I had that exact sort of run. It wasn't an HHRG sanctioned run (those are on Saturday) but it was with women who are part of that group. Had such a wonderful time. It was my last run before this coming Saturday's marathon. MARATHON. My third one, and I am again running the Grand Ridge marathon, which was the same one I did last fall as my first ever marathon.

Part of me is looking forward to it, part of me isn't. I tend to get easily bored, so re-running routes I know well, or worse, doing loops multiple times in one run, is so tedious. This race will hold both of these challenges for me. Besides getting in a good, solid long run, the marathon will be perfect practice in mental strength.

On a tangent, I listened to a wonderful Trail Runner Nation podcast the other day on my five hour run. It was an interview with Matt Fitzgerald about his new book called "How Bad Do You Want It?" and they chatted about mental strength. Oh, man. It resonated with me. I think for me it's not so much about pushing myself harder, but rather, do I have the mental strength to be out there for hours upon hours to reach my goals. I remember when an hour run felt insanely long, then I ran for two hours in a half marathon, then there was my first time running over two hours, then I pushed further and further. I ran for four hours. Then I ran for six hours and 15 minutes in the marathon before going for six hours and 59 minutes in the 50k. Then I went for over seven hours on Mt. Rainier. Twice.

But that's still nothing compared to a hundred miler. Do I have it in me to run for 30+? As an ultrarunner, a huge part of the challenge can come from just wrapping your brain around that challenge. Because your legs will follow. So I will practice that on Saturday.

As of now the weather looks less than favorable for the marathon. Last year it was below freezing. This year it looks like it will be wet, wet, wet. The trails will be more difficult simply because of mud. What that means for me is likely a slower race than last year.

But! I did finally settle on a new rain jacket. I ordered five and ended up keeping the one I knew I wanted all along: the Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket.

Women's Ultra Jacket
Hello, lovely.

I also tried the Outdoor Research Helium II and the Patagonia Houdini, both in men's and women's sizes. Before I ever even set foot outside I knew the UD jacket was the one. It has so many more features than the other jackets! And, well, costs quite a bit more than the other ones, too, let's not beat around the bush. But it honestly fit me better than any other jacket, so that was what sealed the deal. 

This jacket will travel with me on Saturday. Looking forward to its company. Marathon #3, here I come!

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