"This is a good start to your professional running career" said SR on the phone as I was driving home from this morning's half marathon. I laughed, so happy, also knowing he was partly joking.
But in all honesty, we have been talking a lot about what it takes to make a "career" out of running? (OK OK - just hold back your urge to write "you're not fast enough!!") But more on that in a moment.
This morning did however feel ever so slightly like a day at the office. I set my alarm for 7:15 and left the house before SR and the kids were awake. He had agreed to watch them, partly because I was going to try to win a money prize. Partly because he is a great husband.
I drove about an hour and ten minutes north to Nærum
I love Sunday morning radio. There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be. It's easy.
Finding myself at the Rundforbi Stadium in Nærum, taking one of the first parking spots, I had an hour and twenty minutes to warm up.
Last week when I said that all of my goal races were ultras, I lied. I just didn't know it at the time. I ran a half marathon tempo on Wednesday but took the next three days off of running. This is a HUGE taper in my world. I did it because my hip was still bothering me and I guess I can't get faster without that healing. You probably won't believe me, but I am starting to value rest as one of the most important parts of my training. Especially because it is an excuse to do yoga.
The race du jour was Griseløbet ("the pig run") half marathon. I needed to get in the top three in order to justify using my morning on this. I needed to bring home the bacon. Judging from last year's results, I would need to PR to pull this off. It is a sizeable half marathon with 138 women racing.
I estimated I could run a 1:30, if I was lucky, considering my previous PR was 1:33:10. Then again, I had also calculated I should be able to run two 41:30 10ks + 1.1k extra... if I had a really good day. That would give me about a 1:28. But that would require digging really deep. And my belly hurt and it was windy and I could find tons of excuses!!!
I saw May-Britt Hansen with Jesper Olsen (of World Run fame) and was glad to have some friends to talk to. Then I ran into a few people from our track club in Næstved.
When the gun went off, I ran immediately by the skinniest woman I have ever seen start right at the start line and took the lead for the females.
From the beginning, I located various packs of men I could run with. This would become critical on the headwind stretches.
The first 10k I managed in just under 41:30, so on schedule to get under 1:30. But it still felt too easy. I kept feeling like I could run faster but that my legs just wouldn't cooperate. I would have actually thought the course was short if it had not been measured by hand strictly by the DAF standards. Plus all of those runners around me with Garmins beeped whenever we hit the km markers.
There were some rolling hills and one pretty steep hill and it was fairly windy, but otherwise a fast and pretty route. Much to my happiness the last 1½ km were on trails and then onto the track. I had simply run a very sensible, consistent race and set a 5 minute PR with a time of 1:28:17. This was good enough for first place :).
I still look at that time and think --- where did that come from? And at the same time, I am getting way ahead of myself and wondering when a sub 3 hour marathon will be a reasonable goal. This half marathon time predicts a 3:06 marathon, or so SR just told me.
So what did I win? 800 kr. gift card to Løberen running store. With which I bought (on the spot) a running jacket, running pants, a sleaveless running top, winter running gloves for SR and me and Natti and then 125 kr. back in cash! Also a gift certificate for a hour's full body massage (can't wait)! And a nice water bottle & plaque. Wow. Danes have it all figured out when it comes to awarding athletes.
Moving to Colorado & "going pro"
We have all read it and believed it: find what you are passionate about and just do it! So earlier this week I said it. Maybe it was because I was reading Chrissie Wellington's (great) autobiography. "I want to run for a living". SR, amazingly, loved this idea. We talked about moving to Colorado and starting a a Haight-Ashbury of sorts for ultra runners, cross-country skiers, mountain and road bikers where we have a big house and people can come and stay for theme weeks. And of course we can write and blog all about it.
At the same time, we would train hard and try to get sponsors and try to win some money prizes (there are very few in trail running & triathlon) and live a bohemic, simple life. We even found the town: Fort Collins; CO. Why? They have a Family Med Residency program I like, a good hospital for SR, a Waldorf School for the kids, a Bikram Yoga studio (so there are back-up jobs if necessary! ;)), awesome mountain trails, tri and trail running clubs.
Now SR is telling me I have to write to Geoff Roes and try to get into the Ultra Race of Champions UROC next year and try for a cash prize there. I know it's crazy and naive and unrealistic - and that's what I love most about it!
Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman