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Post-Marathon Briflection

by Bri Kilroy

“You are not going to PR on this course.”
That was the warning about the Groundhog Marathon to save runners the devastation of not beating their previous marathon time that may have taken place on a nicely paved course, clear of nature’s cruel obstacles. I thought “Good not only is the pressure to flop faster than I’ve ever flopped before off, but I could replace worrying about my pace with maximum concern about survival and what cookies they would have at the aid stations.”

There is something incredibly relieving about narrowing your expectations to something as basic as “finish the race.” That’s the appeal of these endurance challenges; I looked forward to just having that one thing on my plate (and tons of cookies in my pockets) for a day before the obligations of work and growth returned to my agenda. However, on lap four (17ish miles in) it hit me I might PR on this course…then I could write about it in this blog.

That became my motivation for keeping my feet at a quick scamper and not spending too much time choosing which cookie(s) I would take from the aid station. I thought I’d have an easy entry that flowed with the finesse of the Grand River about how I PRed on a course that (unless you’re Brad in his shorts) you weren’t supposed to be able to PR on.

Now that I am here, writing this, I find I don’t have a lot to say about what my time was. What I’m really thrilled about was the fact that Kara fueled me with a sip of beer before I launched onto the sixth and final lap (Don would be proud); I’m thrilled at the scarce amount of people that stood at the sidelines in the 3- to13- degree weather, cheering every runner on as they made peace with the fact that this expression of support would cost them their limbs; I’m still chuckling at Rick’s groundhog/hamster shirt he ran in; and I’m mega thrilled that, after all these miles, I was finally able to say that “I am so proud of my body.”

Past BriRun Blogs for the Grand Rapids Marathon revealed I’ve spent a colossal amount of my running life having a shoddy relationship with food and body image, but as I was running Groundhog on the snowy terrain with 13, 18, then 22 miles behind me, I was overwhelmed with pride that, even though I’ve put it through hell at times, my body is able to do this. My body is my best friend and we make a damn good team. I’ve decided I’m never allowed to hate it again, even when its height is the reason I’m not allowed into those cool, indoor playgrounds at the mall (some B.S. about being over 4 feet).

  • To all of you who ran Groundhog, I hope you are as proud of yourselves as I am. Remember, this is a race with a mileage that killed the first man that did it (and it sure as hell wasn’t tundra-level weather when he did). You are so frickin’ awesome! To those who volunteered–manning/womanning the aid stations, warming tent, and parking direction­–I feel like you had it even harder because you endured the arctic to provide us runners with the crucial necessities we needed to achieve this goal (and you certainly don’t mess around when it comes to cookie variety ). Thank you for being there and being an immensely valuable presence of this race when you easily could have just slept in and let us die. To all who were involved in creating this year’s Groundhog with set-up, management, and that kick-ass warming tent at the finish, thank you for giving the running community this opportunity to be completely insane and run this race. I’ll see you at the next one!