#16.-The Animal- Brookings 2019

The Animal

The Animal archetype is the one I probably feel most often when I run. My favorite way to run is when I tap into my power and feel primal. My body becomes muscles moving, blood flowing and heart pumping. My bones holding it all together pounding the pavement. I feel raw, vital and very much alive. I forget about my day-to-day worries and realize this is what I am born to do. I become one with my natural, wild, animal side. I feel the life force within and my connection to all. It’s when I’m most comfortable in my own skin. I accept, express and celebrate my wild energy. Running is the perfect antidote to feeling caged and contained. The shadow animal side is feeling pent up. I feel this when it’s been “too long” since I’ve run, whether that means days, weeks or longer. My body aches for the movement and release of a run. The Animal archetype follows its intuition to discover what is wild within and express it the best way it knows how. It is a re-connection with your heart and your deepest instincts. 

#16. Brookings Marathon- Brookings, South Dakota

Brookings Marathon was about five weeks after Carmel. I tend to cluster my marathons to spring and fall. Running the two out of town back to back I had a really good base. The winter was icy, slippery, snowy and cold! The spring is time to enjoy the fitness I gained. I’m pretty spontaneous in my decisions about which races I run, once I have the foundation set. I love to travel to races, see different places and have a running experience in as many locations as I can. I definitely go for quantity over speed. During this chapter of my life, it is unknown how long my marathon "career" will last. I certainly hope to do it for a long time. If I can stay healthy and strong and smart about it, I hope it is something I do for decades. It has already brought many experiences I had never dreamed of having, which has all been a complete surprise. I feel that running will bring more joy and accomplishment into my life than any career would have. This is the path that has opened up for me and I’m embracing it wholeheartedly.

As we got into the month of April the weather was as fickle as my mind. I was very stressed at work. The weather went from 65 degrees one day to a foot of snow the next. My mind seems to go up and down as much as the Minnesota weather. It is relentless. I was also torn about if I wanted to push my speed a little. I always said I wanted to do more, rather than faster. But now that my fitness is up, I am also curious about what I am capable of. I also question if I start getting rigid with speed will it make running marathons less fun for me. I love running marathons now and I want to make sure to keep that passion and playfulness with it. To keep the enjoyment high is my main priority. I know that I haven’t reached my peak speed, so I also think that pushing a little bit each year to improve my time is sustainable. I just need to be smart with the training and patient with improving my time slowly. There are so many facets of the marathon that I am curious about. As 50 people why they run marathons and you’ll get 50 different answers. Everyone needs to figure out their “why” as they say. I certainly don’t need to follow anyone else’s prescribed path. I keep finding what makes sense for me. My growth may look different, but what I’ve been doing certainly has been working for me. It’s my path, make it my own. I get to determine my goals, my successes and reasons for doing it. Each run is an expression of my gratitude for getting to do this. Enjoy the journey.

A few weeks before Brookings when I clearly had the endurance in me, I was able to play with a little speed work. On my last 18 mile long run, I practiced running miles 16-18 really strong. In the marathon itself, this is the meat of the race, the very heart of the marathon. It’s time to be smart, tough, and gritty and I wanted to practice that. It felt empowering to get faster so late in a long run. It reminded me of the joy I find in the training. The satisfaction for the process. It is pretty primal and animalistic. May arrived and I was in great shape and really needed a release. I knew if the weather was cool I could possibly run my fastest time yet. I had a huge personal best time in my half marathon a few weeks earlier. My legs were finding some turnover. It was cool and crisp on race morning. I had been practicing the speed I wanted to go for a PR, but maintaining that speed for 26.2 miles would be a challenge like no other. 

From the start of the race, I could feel that I was caught up on my time from the get go. I took a porty potty break in the first mile to let the pacer get ahead. I knew that it would drive my mind crazy if I stayed with her for the next 25 miles. I wanted to run my own race. Stopping even for a few seconds put me in a much better mindset. I was no longer chasing something, I was feeling good and seeing how long I could last. I started to feel it at the half way point, which is early for me. I knew I was going faster than I normally go and it was only going to get harder and hard to maintain, but I knew I was up for the task. I maintained the fast cadence through mile 18, but knew 8 miles left is still substantial and wasn’t sure if I could maintain my form and turnover even one more mile, let alone eight. I reminded myself that I had come this far. I hadn’t worked this hard to have a good 18 miler and then back off. If I waited for the “next time” I would have to work this hard again to get to mile 18 at that pace and would still have to finish it off. “I didn’t come this far to only come this far” I told myself. Just keep turning over my legs, was my mantra. If I could keep the quick cadence I knew my pace would be on track. 

This is when all the mental training comes into play. Staying strong when my body is wanting to be done. I started to feel that I was running as fast as I possibly could every single mile. I didn’t know how long I’d be able to keep that up. I had the fitness, I needed to rely on that. I pressed on. It got harder and harder. I had to dig into and meet my Animal archetype. It was me as an animal body moving through space. Tapping into my power and direction. I was activating the Animal. I remembered the blood pulsing through my veins. I thought of all the hard work I had put in. It gave me the energy to continue to put one foot in front of the other. I made it to the final stretch and ended with a 13 minute personal best. The culmination of a whole lot of hard work had come together. That doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it sure is sweet. 



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