Thanks to Angel, a longtime friend and fellow runner, who so eloquently described today’s low humidity, 70-degree weather: “Beautiful air this morning!” Yes, that cooler breeze somehow felt purer, cleaner, refreshing after a stifling 96-degree day yesterday (and an overall hotter-than-normal Michigan summer). Sunshine was intermittent thanks to puffy white clouds moving fast across the sky, but any break the rays did find to stream through was perfectly timed. I never got too hot or too cool during my 8-mile Vasa trail run. This isn’t usual in early August in northern Michigan–it’s often sticky hot, even on the shaded, dusty trails–which surely made it all the sweeter.
But let’s face it, there’s something beyond weather this weekend that’s fueling many of our runs: the Summer Olympics in London. I’ve been watching the Games all week, staying up late with my family to catch the various events complete with edge-of-your-seat suspension, tear-inducing triumph and a fair share of heartbreak and drama. Emma’s favorite: gymnastics (for me, it brings back memories of my 10-year-old self watching Mary Lou Retton win gold–and of countless hours I spent in my backyard pretending to be at the Olympics myself, doing the floor exercise in front of a screaming crowd and in-awe judges. It’s incredibly cute to see that Emma now is doing the same, in our front yard). My boys especially like watching the swimming events, and together we all cheered as Michael Phelps finally beat his teammate Ryan Lochte (we weren’t not cheering for Ryan…just wanted Michael to win).
And today. I set my alarm for 5:45 a.m. to get up and watch the Women’s Olympic Marathon, set to start at 6 a.m. EST, and to cheer on Team USA: Desiree Davila (who trains in Michigan), Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher. OK, in full disclosure, I hit snooze and went back to bed for a bit. An all-day excursion yesterday to Good Harbor Beach with my family left me worn out in the very best way and I welcomed the extra sleep. But I couldn’t sleep past 7:30, knowing that the race was on, so I did what any self-respecting runner and wife would do and enticed Joe out of bed with freshly-brewed coffee and we watched the final stretch of the race together.
There are a few things in life that I get pretty crazy-passionate about, and (as you might guess), distance-running is one of them. So watching this 26.2 race was super fun. It was disappointing to not see the lovely American women medal (and tough to see Desi pull out just over 2 miles, though it seems she felt in her heart this was the only way–“You can’t fake the marathon,” she wisely said afterward). But, amazing that Shalane placed 10th and Kara, 11th–in the world!–on what I’ve read was a tough course. I can’t even fathom running 26.2 at the paces these women run it in. It’s truly spectacular to witness.
Inspired by watching the race and these talented athletes, I set out for my own long run–a wee shy of 26.2, of course–and I swear, something about having watched that Olympic marathon powered me in a way I haven’t felt in awhile. I felt sure-footed, strong, content. I felt good enough to keep plowing through the hills peppered throughout the out-and-back route I take on the Vasa from my house. I didn’t stop, except at the trail head, which is the half way point, so that I could fuel with a Gu, and a short time later at the wood-planked bridge to splash cold creek water on my arms and neck. Then I was off, feeling determined, happy and lucky to have this time on the trails.
When you experience a run like that, you savor it. And maybe act a little cheesy with your 6-year-old in the backyard upon your return.
Anyone else experience an Olympic-inspired run this weekend?
What are your favorite Olympic events?