Chasing Huge Goals: From 10x marathoner to an ‘all smiles’ half-Ironman finish.

Becky Morin

Becky Morin – New Hope, Minnesota

I need to tell you how this crazy plan of mine started…

Last October I ran my 10th marathon. (My 4th Twin Cities.) I had a HUGE goal to break 4 hours for the first time. I decided that if I did run a sub 4 I would finally do a half-Ironman. (Most people tell themselves if they meet their marathon time goal they can eat a cake, drink 12 beers or take a month off… not me.) I knew I couldn’t marathon train and half-IM train at the same time so I told myself that if I broke 4 I could take the year off from running a marathon.

I ran the 2013 Twin Cities Marathon with my friend Michelle. (It was her 6th and our 6th together.) We were side by side that day until mile 24 when I started cramping big time. It was like my legs were stuck in massive amounts of mud and I just couldn’t move. I sent Michelle ahead. I crossed the finish line one minute after her, in a time of 3:59:29.

I beat my sub 4 goal with 30 seconds to spare.

Fast forward and since May of this year I’ve been training for a half-Ironman like my life depended on it. (Which it kinda does.) I didn’t see my friends very often, I missed social outings, I was constantly tired and ate ALL THE TIME. (I don’t regret a second of it – although the week before I said, “I could have just run 30 seconds slower and not have had to do all of this!”)

I did the Superior Man Tri in Duluth on August 24, 2014. It was the most incredible experience. I wish I could bottle up the feeling and drink from it whenever I need a boost. Here’s how it all unfolded…

We were supposed to go out on the Vista Fleet ship in the bay of Lake Superior and jump off to start the swim. Due to wind and the current, the race director announced they were concerned, “The boat would get damaged and potentially hit swimmers.” (Uh, no thanks for getting run over by a boat.)

Becky Morin 2We still jumped to start, but instead the boat was docked. My plan was to be in the middle of the group… but somehow I ended up as the 3rd person off the boat, first female.  I keep saying I was 3rd off the boat and probably 50th or more out of the water. I don’t remember it being cold. I just remember jumping in and swimming away to make sure the next person didn’t jump on top of me.

I’m not a fast swimmer but I stayed calm in the water. I got kicked, hit and smacked but just kept going. The swim ended up being about one mile instead of 1.2 due to not being able to take the boat out. (I feel like I need to do another one to get the full distance, but swimming in Lake Superior should give me bad-ass points that make up for the missing .2, right?)

I was out of the water in 33 minutes. A mere 5 minutes later I was on my bike waving to my boyfriend and his parents.

The wind on the bike course was brutal on the way out. The hills were like mountains with the headwind and I felt as though I was barely moving. My boyfriend drove up the bike course and at one point I yelled, “This is so brutal!” We turned around just past the car dealership in Two Harbors. Finally! The wind was at my back and I felt like I was flying.

I expected the bike to take me 3:15-3:30. I finished in 3:03.

Four minutes later I left the transition area one last time to run the most amazing half-marathon of my life. (It was kinda refreshing to run a half with a goal of simply moving forward!) I ran it almost 90 seconds slower than my half-marathon pace but I didn’t care. I told myself I was only allowed to walk at water stops. Well, there were 13 water stops. I didn’t plan to stop at all of them but when I got to the table and heard “Water or Gatorade” I NEEDED that Gatorade every time.

I knew that if I made it to the run I would finish – no chance of a flat tire, no Lake Superior incidents… but I still had to run a freaking half-marathon. After a first mile of 8:39 I settled into a nice 9:05-9:30 pace. I finished the first lap in just under an hour. I got to mile 8.5 and saw my parents and boyfriend outside at Canal Park Brewery. I got to mile 12 and I’m pretty sure I started smiling and couldn’t stop. With about .2 to go the volunteer there somehow remembered me and said, “You’re finishing, right?!?!” It was at that moment I realized, YES, I WAS FINISHING!

I gave her an overly enthusiastic YES and turned left. I got in the finisher’s chute and heard a complete stranger say, “Wow, look at her smile! I can’t believe she’s still smiling.” I saw my parents, my boyfriend, his parents, and a friend who did the shorter course all cheering for me. As I crossed the finish line I heard the race announcer yell, “Finishing now we have Rebecca Morin from New Hope, Minnesota!”

Surprisingly, I didn’t cry. I found my family and gave them huge hugs and just stood there in shock about what I had just done. My half-marathon time was 2:03:43. I thought best case scenario I would finish the entire event in 6:30 — I finished in 5:50:32.

I have never finished a marathon and immediately thought I wanted to do it again – I want to do another Half-Ironman. It was such an incredible experience and just an amazing day. As for now… I’m enjoying my accomplishment and feeling very happy I didn’t run 30 seconds slower at my last marathon.

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P.S. Becky… awesome, awesome, awesome! (And how timely, ‘eh?) Girl, today I salute your courage and celebrate your commitment to the miles, the journey and who we become in the process. May the road always lead exactly where you want to go. xo

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