It was eerily quiet. You couldn’t hear a thing, not a bird, not insects, not even the wind. Badlands National Park was like being on another planet. But it was also the most beautiful and unique place I had been to in a long time.
This past weekend my husband and I had the opportunity to travel out west to South Dakota and the Rapid City area where we got to check out things like Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, and the Black Hills National Forest. We were also there because I wanted to run another marathon in another state.
As I mentioned in my last blog, I’ve been struggling with staying positive about my running and training. I don’t know if it’s the weather, the fact that I’ve done this enough times that I know training is (at least for me) mostly unpleasant. Originally I thought I wanted to run Columbus in under 5 hours and that was going to be my big goal for the year. However, this goal just wasn’t helping me get out of my funk, so I had to re-evaluate what it was I wanted to do with my running.
So, the new goal became, run a marathon in all 50 states (don’t worry, still running Cbus, it’s my favorite). Which is what brought me to my 4th state and 9th full marathon in Spearfish South Dakota, the Leading Ladies Marathon. My finish time was a personal worst at 6:23:08, which makes sense because my longest run going into it was 15.5 miles (do as I say folks, not as I do!).
But that wasn’t the real story.
For the first time in years, I was in the best place mentally the ENTIRE race. I was incredibly anxious before the race because I knew being under trained would complicate things. As soon as I got started though, I just took my time and enjoyed the (mostly downhill) ride. Our course took us entirely through the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. The hills in that region are older than the Grand Canyon and they were utterly magnificent. Sure, it got hot, and I got tired of running through the canyon and having to worry about the traffic flying by me, but I knew deep down that this race was for me and my confidence in my running. If I could do this, if I could gut it out and stay consistent then I would have won. And that is exactly what I did! I ran downhill and got spit back out the other side with a greater appreciation for what I was doing.
(A view of the trees and hills around mile 7 or 8, the woman in orange was running her 355th full!).
I think what is so unique about running is how much it can reflect where we are at in life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes we hit those slumps that we just can’t find our way out of. In this case, I just needed a little nature and camaraderie with other like-minded folks. Some years we are running machines, we are fast, we feel like we can conquer anything. Other times, it feels like a cheesy disaster movie, or one of those ‘end of the world’ films. Then, we come out the other side with a new perspective on running and life. I think that is what this race gave to me. A chance at some perspective. As the lady in orange above said to me when she passed, ‘don’t fret, it’s just another marathon.’ That wasn’t meant to undermine what we were doing, but in the grand scheme of life, it was just that, another marathon. With almost 355 under her belt, I think she had permission to make that case.
In the end, just remember, the training and the race are just one journey out of many that you will be blessed with in your life. Enjoy the ride!
Follow Shannon at: https://runforthebuns.wordpress.com/