I forget how beautiful the Clarksburg area really is. It hit me driving in as the sun was rising on the river, that this truly is a hidden gem not too far from home.
My training plan going into this race was supposed to be “Predicted Marathon Pace PLUS 30 seconds” but secretly, I wanted to see if I could hold my marathon pace the entire 20 miles. Of course right? 🙂
I arrived super early. In all the years I have run this race, I never recall being the first to arrive. I think the participant number may have gone down slightly because I was the second person to arrive. Second. That scored me a killer parking spot mind you and I really didn’t have to wait all that long. But my parking space was kind of crazy. I should have taken a photo it was so good.
The temps were chilly and there was a good chance it was going to rain about half way into the race.
Finally it was time to head to the starting line. I saw McFunny as I was getting out of my car. She was also doing the 20 miler and is doing CIM. She always makes me laugh and it proved to be the perfect thing to calm my nerves before the run. McFunny agreed that Clarksburg, while a pretty race, usually leaves sour thoughts in your head when you are done because it is well, 20 miles of flat paved roads. Ouch.
They started the race and off I ran. I bobbed and weaved my way to a clear spot in the pack. I had my headphones and old iShuffle in my pocket. That was a last minute decision. I haven’t touched my shuffle since I loaded it for AR50 earlier this year.
As it turns out, I grew really tired of the conversation around me at about mile 4 and put in my ear buds. Normally I thrive off of the surrounding conversations but not this time.
I did fall in behind one woman. Did you ever just run behind someone and they seemed to float effortlessly as they run? This woman had nothing on her, no water, no music, no fuel yet she had ideal form and just was plugging away never showing any sign of fatigue.
I stuck with this woman for a long long time. At one point I pulled ahead, I think she may stopped at an aid-station but eventually she’d catch up to me again.
At about mile 10 the rain started coming. At first it was just a light sprinkle and then it grew stronger. Then, we changed course and were running right into a headwind with sideways rain.
I slowed to try and grab some fuel from my pocket hoping that would give me a boost and it did but it also put some distance between me and that girl.
I also started to just slow ever so slightly here. Prior to this point I was on point to run my marathon pace. After the fueling stop, I was leaning more towards what my training pace had called for.
A few more turns on the course, more wind and more drenching rain and I was starting to lose my faith and mojo ever so slightly. I kept that girl in my sights even though she was down the road. She never faltered in her form. So many times I wished I was her or I thought, “Wow she is trained and you my friend, are not.” But I never gave up.
The final 2 miles were not fun but I could feel the finish. The last mile I even tried to picked up the pace a bit. When all was said and done, I ended up with the pace my training plan had called for … exactly.
I was frozen to the core when I finished. I had been battling an upset tummy since about mile 10 and when I finished I stood for a moment trying to figure out what it was my body wanted.
As I was standing there, the girl I had been following came up to me. She introduced herself and asked how I did. She was so sweet. She is training for CIM and it will be her first marathon. I told her she had amazing form and looked effortless when she ran. She said she had been so nervous for this 20 mile run. She was pleased with her finish and I told her she’ll have a great CIM if she runs like she ran today.
It just goes to show that everyone has some inner turmoil and demons. Not everyone shows it or wears it on their sleeves but we all have something. The only person you can rely on in a lot of these situations is yourself and your training. I know my training hasn’t been 100% on par and that I have been relying on my strength and stamina to try and make certain goals happen.
Come CIM, I am still hoping my strength and stamina will get me through whatever should come my way that day and I know deep inside this is the most I have actually trained for CIM since 2009.
The road is a hard mental beast sometimes. My body has been craving trails lately missing the fun and the ease that one can sometimes have on a dusty single track.
Yet the road can be also super rewarding when you hit your marks. It just takes hard work and training to make that happen.
I have one more race before CIM, our annual Thanksgiving Day race that Vans and I do together. That race is the week before CIM so usually I either feel awesome or I feel every ache and pain along the way. Whatever comes though, I am ready for it.