by Jamie Logan

When January first hit, I was ready to move forward and away from 2020 as quickly as possible. I sat down with my calendar, set some big running goals, and made a detailed plan to achieve them. I had a marathon finishing time in mind, a solid plan to get there, and a determination to return to normalcy.

I ate like an athlete (okay, most of the time), never missed a run, and even kept my commitment to adding weights and strength training to my routine (shocking). I dreamt of race day constantly -freezing in a packed starting corral, waiting in a nearly endless porta-potty line, strangers holding goofy signs enthusiastically cheering on runners for hours at a time. It really kept me moving. And then officials canceled the race. I know I should have seen it coming, but I was crushed. I saw my big goals and intense training plan wasting away, my girls’ weekend slipping through my fingers. And then I did what runners do; I took a deep breath and kept going. I stuck to my running plan and asked my son if he would bike the race with me and serve as my mobile aid station.

When race day came, I was ready. I was well-rested, carbed-up, and decked out in my favorite running gear. I felt fierce. But you know what else showed up fiercely? The wind and the heat. After training in temperatures of fifteen to forty-five degrees, race day hit a high of eighty-nine degrees with wind gusts of twenty to forty miles per hour. Every runners’ nightmare. I should have changed my running strategy. I know that, but I didn’t. I’d trained so hard to achieve a time goal that I just couldn’t let it go.

I felt fantastic for about eight miles. At mile ten, I started seeing pink spots. By mile thirteen, those pink dots had swarmed together and were surrounded by lots of black fuzz. I stepped off the trail, put my head between my legs, and knew I had a decision to make: truly let go of the plan and do whatever I had to do to finish or keep clinging to a dream that was clearly out of reach on that day.

The next few miles were rough. I was disappointed. But somewhere around mile 17, something remarkable happened. I felt strong, not “I can start racing again” strong, but “I’m going to finish this no matter what” strong. I was the most fit I’ve been in my life. I was disciplined. I’d shown up for myself day after day.

It wasn’t the day I’d planned or trained for, but I’ll never forget it. My son and I spent hours on the trail together. He saw the effort I put in. He saw me make dumb decisions and then watched me deal with the consequences. He saw me finish when it would have been easy to step off the trail and call it quits.

As we begin the IMT Des Moines Marathon training cycle, challenge yourself to sit down and set big goals. Maybe it’s running your very first 5k. Maybe you want to shave a few minutes off your half marathon time. Maybe you’ve been thinking about bumping up your half marathon registration to run your first ever marathon. Whatever it may be, make a plan to get there and then show up for yourself. I can’t promise you a PR or beautiful weather, but I can promise you a life-changing experience.

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