Saturday, May 27, 2006

Running to Notre Dame

ORN: 12.3 miles, 9:30/mile

Next Saturday, June 3, I get to race again! A great time of year, as I’ll head to South Bend, Indiana to run the
Sunburst Half Marathon, one of five races on one morning. Besides being a convenient race, the finish line is at the 50 yard line of Notre Dame stadium.

I ran this race a year ago and it was a special event. Special in that my family has a lot of ties to Notre Dame. My Dad, Gene Ely, played football there from 1933-37, the old leather-helmet days. My sister, a Photoshop guru, pulled a couple of old photos from those days, layered one on the other and we put the image on shirts for our whole family. This is the back of the shirt I wore for this race a year ago and wore in the St Louis Marathon as well.

Dad died in 1993, which is hard to believe. He had a wonderful life and died at peace with himself, with his family, with God and with his community. I still miss picking up the phone and giving him a call. Not about big stuff, that was already settled. But about the little stuff. And I know he’d think it was a hoot (and a little crazy) that I’d be running 13.1 miles just to finish at ND’s 50 yard line. With this shirt, in a symbolic way, he’s riding with me.

The race route adds to the drama. We’ll start in front of the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown South Bend, then wind around the city. Around mile 11, we will start approaching the ND campus from the south. The excitement builds (slowly, in my case) as we get closer to campus. We run along the south academic section of the campus, circle to the north side of the stadium, head down the tunnel from the north side and onto the field for a final push to the finish line on the 50, right in front of where the ND bench is on a fall weekend.

Last year, the emotion of running onto the field my Dad played on a very long time ago was almost overwhelming. I slowed to nearly a walk, just to absorb the moment and remember Dad. It really surprised me. It will be very fascinating to see how it hits me this year.

This is also my third race in 8 weeks. It has been interesting psychologically that it took me nearly the full four weeks between the marathon and the Indy Mini to get mentally interested in the next race, such was the nature of the marathon. However, I’ve been getting excited about the ND race for the past several days and still have a week to go. As usual, I’m obsessing a bit over the weather and what I’ll wear. As of this afternoon, the forecast for next Saturday morning in South Bend calls for partly cloudy, 55 at the start, heading for 65. This sounds good…and can change. But it could be better than the 80 it hit last year.

Oh yeah, training. I had a good week with my
simplified training plan. Today’s 12 miler went well…for 10 miles. I intended to run 9:20 miles. The first 5 went at 9 01, 9 07, 9 26, 9 41 and 9 06. At that point, I encountered the geese again; they hissed but did not get airborne. The next five miles went well to at 9 01, 9 35, 9 09, 9 27, 9 29, with my 10 mile time at 1:33:01, which is good for me. And then the temps, at 80 by this point, and the humidity, which we haven’t had until the last 2 days, took it out of me. I had to slow to get home with two more at 10 49 and 10 13. So, what will I shoot for next week? I’m not sure, as I want to be alert and enjoy the last couple of miles of the race. I’ll figure it out.

This one is more than a race. It’s a walk with family history. I’m excited.



Darrell said...

It is good to be so emotionally connected to a place and to get to race there as well. I'd suggest that you wear the Gene Ely shirt again.
I really like your simplified training plan. I think you summed it up nicely in three little words: just run, enjoy.

jeanne said...

That is such a COOL shirt! Your sister is awesome! I hope your race went well today. I'm sure your dad was watching, and cheering!