Not Bad for a First Week of ‘Pre-Training Training’

So in the blog’s last episode, I had a bit of an episode. If life has taught me anything, it’s taught me that change is entirely possible; and it’s up to you to make. This is precisely what this week has been about:

  • Sunday – 12 miles (see my previous blog post). Magnificent!
  • Monday – 5 ½ miles with my roommate Jess, who, on this particular day, neglected to tell me that she put jet packs on her shoes.
  • Tuesday – ‘Deck Wreck’ workout (more on this later). Pushups, up-downs, weighted sit ups, and some new weird jumps compliments of Jess’ trainer seriously brought on the HURT. Maybe it was the 17 ½  miles I had already run for the week, maybe it was my whacked out sleeping schedule the previous weekend. Whatever it was, this was the first time I’d ever considered quitting a workout. (Just in case you’re wondering, I didn’t.)
  • Wednesday – 4 x 1 mile repeats with 800-meter recovery. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected!
  • Thursday – 8 miles, slow and steady. Just what I needed.

All in all, the week included 34 miles plus one workout. I had all intentions of hitting the gym again on Friday for workout number two, but then I realized (1) that I had run 34 miles this week, a VAST improvement over the past few weeks of sub-25 miles, and (2) that I was exhausted!

Needless to say, I took Friday off.

That brings us to today: the 10th annual Umstead Marathon in William B. Umstead State Park – my absolute favorite place to run in NC (and the only suggested running venue in the Triangle area that won’t induce mumbled growling on my part) – and my second year of participation as a marathon volunteer.

What better way to celebrate my first serious week of serious running back than by giving back?

And so, puffy eyed, I’m sure, yet hopefully somewhat bushy tailed, I voluntarily rolled out of bed around 6:45 a.m., early enough an alarm time to ensure a much needed Starbucks stop, driving time, and an early arrival at our aid station’s designated meeting spot.

Greeted with familiar Godiva faces and this year’s Umstead Marathon technical tee, featuring a peaceful mallard gliding across the water against a VERY bright pink background, I joined the my fellow Sycamore aid station staff; and we got to work.

The spread. Mmmm!

The pre-running mob spread. Nice and neat, even if only for a short time

My job this year was similar to last: Matching runners’ bib numbers to a page with their names, then cheering runners on by name as they passed the aid station. This was a two-person effort last year, but I went it alone this year. I’d like to think it’s because everyone had faith that I would be a positive motivator for wary runners, but I think it’s really because I have a big mouth and talk a lot.

I got a few, “How did you know my name?”s, countless gasping smiles and “Thank you”s, and a few brief conversations with awesome peeps meeting a racer to provide moral support, running fuel, motrin, and even companionship for a few miles along the course as a pacer.

Sycamore aid station crew supporting their own

The one and only Sycamore aid station crew supporting their own

If you’re a runner who’s never volunteered for a race, I most highly recommend it. Seeing the race from an entirely different perspective will give you a renewed sense of appreciation for all of the work and time that race volunteers put in. Plus, it’s the only time I’ve ever attended a race free of pre-gun jitters. And, it’s a great way to celebrate why all runners do what they do, whatever it means to you.

Motivation for the marathoners, motivation for me as my serious training approaches. Win win. I can’t think of a better way to end a first serious week of ‘pre-training training’ back.

Melissa Mincic, Ph.D., studies child development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a long-time road and trail runner. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @nerdinrunshoes.