redemption…and why i love running in my hometown

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I was a little nervous going into my long run this weekend. I felt like I completely bombed the weekend before when I tried unsuccessfully to run my first 20 miler of marathon training. I had issues with muscle cramping, and my left calf was a mess. I alternated between walking and running for the last 7 or so miles of that run. This really shook my confidence, especially since we are in the final countdown to the marathon. It left me wondering if I could even do this. This weekend erased that.

My fam was gracious enough to watch the kiddles for me, so I could get my training run in on Sunday. We drove out to Painesville in the morning, and I was out the door less than 30 minutes after arriving. I was nervous about the run, about my calf muscle, about running in the rain (you know I’m a wimpy runner who shuns bad weather), and about my ability to do long distance, but as soon as I hit the pavement, I felt great! Before I knew it, I was done with the first mile. 9:16 pace…oh crap, better slow down if I expect to get all 20 miles in! I think I was just excited to get out and run after rehabbing my sore muscles all week. Mile 2 was a little slower (9:29), and then I hit the bike path. I was right into the wind and rain, and my speed slowed down to a more manageable, sustainable pace (low 10s).

Despite the rain and the wind, the bike path was an enjoyable and challenging stretch. I was headed south toward Chardon, and it gets a little hilly. I don’t normally do hills, so this was a bit hard for me. I have to admit I enjoyed the challenge and knew it would make me a stronger runner. I kept going until I hit 6.25 miles, and then I turned around. I felt like I was flying on the way back because it was mainly downhill and the wind was as my back. I was shaving off nearly 40 seconds per mile (this was huge for me)!

I did another few miles through the neighborhood my BFF Lynney-Lou used to live in and realized I needed more water. I ran back to my parents’ house, got my bottles refilled, and was out the door to finish. I was very surprised that I had less than 8 miles to go when I made my water stop, which made me extremely happy. I was still feeling good, both mentally and physically. Win-win!!!

The last few miles were kind of a blur. Nothing very eventful; just a nice, even run. I needed another water stop at approximately mile 16 and pressed on. I got my normal, antsy feeling when I hit 18 miles and had to calm myself down, but my muscles were holding up well. I have to admit mile 19 was kind of a bitch, though. It was still raining, and by now my feet were soaked. I was also heading face first into the wind, which picked up speed from earlier. I kept looking at my watch (bad habit…I don’t suggest doing this), but I was pleasantly surprised that the time was going faster than expected. I made my way through the last stretch, and my watch beeped – 20 miles! 20 wet, windy, and wonderful miles with no walking! I was happy and proud and pleased that I still had some energy in me. My official numbers were 20.01 miles with a 10:11 pace…I’ll take it! And, just to reiterate, this wimpy runner did all 20 miles in the rain! Mark your calendars because this was a first for me.

This brings me to the second part of this post, and it is that I absolutely love running in my hometown. Here are a few reasons why.

  1. There are sidewalks everywhere! This is so much nicer than running in the road. My city doesn’t have this, and I don’t really enjoy running there for this reason.
  2. It has an awesome Lake Metroparks path. The scenery is pretty, the hills make it just challenging enough, and there are water fountains and bathrooms along the way. Lots of people use it, too. I was surprised that even in the rain there were people out walking and running.
  3. Painesville may be small, but you can really rack up the miles with all of the streets. Even if I didn’t run on the bike path, I wouldn’t have had too hard of a time getting my full 20 miles in without much repeating.
  4. I usually see people I know. In past Painesville long runs, I’ve seen people I went to school with, their parents, and my family members. It always boosts my mood to see a familiar face.
  5. It makes me nostalgic. I get to run past places that have meaning to me or bring back memories – the condo where my family lived for pretty much the first 14 years of my life; the condos of all of my childhood friends, the College Hills crew; the house of one my friends from elementary school where we painted her shed in mud (got in trouble for that and had to write an “I’m sorry” note to her parents); the places where I went to school (unfortunately all of the buildings have been torn down, but the land remains); the house where we partied a little too hard on New Year’s Eve 2000; and the Convenient store we used to eagerly walk/ride bikes to in order to spend the little bit of change we had, to name a few.
  6. The square in downtown Painesville is beautiful! This is one of my favorite parts of my run. There are fancy old buildings, like the old post office, church, and city hall, and a pretty gazebo in the center. If you go out to Painesville, I suggest you make a little trip through the square. And who can pass up Party in the Park?!
  7. We get to see my fam! No explanation needed.

2 thoughts on “redemption…and why i love running in my hometown

  1. Nice job Steph! We had similar weather conditions. I’m so excited for my 20 miler this weekend. I’m excited for the run itself, but also for the longest run in my training to be done! Taper weeks, here I come! Keep up the awesome work!

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