I haven’t written much about running here lately for two reasons: I haven’t been writing much here lately, and I haven’t been running much lately.
Gone is the time when I could run five days/week on a reliable training schedule. Gone are the days when I would get home from work, drop my stuff, and go out for five or six miles before figuring out my evening. These days I get in three runs/week when I’m lucky: two lunchtime workouts during the week, and a long run on the weekend. Once in awhile, I’ll get a bonus short run on the weekends.
Life is busy. I’m tired. The baby is still up a LOT at night. I’ve biked seven (or more!) miles to work every day for two months which has made up for the fact that I have had very little time to get to the gym. All of my excuses are legitimate.
So much about running is mental. I’ve known this for a long time, and yet it always surprises me how easy it is to psych myself out, to decide I can’t do something that I really can. Up until Saturday night when I laid out my stuff, I wasn’t fully convinced I should actually even run the race. We’d had several very bad nights of minimal sleep. I’ve been dealing with mild numbness in one foot. And I’ve just felt blue for awhile, the sort of blue that makes digging into your reserves difficult.
And then the baby surprised me with a good night of sleep. I woke a little before 5, well rested and reluctant to wiggle out from under the softest, snuggliest kiddo in order to eat some peanut butter toast and leave the house by 6. At 6:30, I was walking to the starting line with half a cup of coffee and an overwhelming feeling of gratitude – for the overcast but lovely morning, for the privilege of being able to do events like this, for the strong body that has muscled through a hard year, for my sleeping family who have compromised and coordinated so that I could get the miles that I need to feel sane and healthy.
You can imagine my surprise when I went on to run the steadiest, strongest, and possibly the best race I’ve ever done. I’ve had faster races, but I don’t think I’ve had stronger races. I felt great. I listened to Tensnake. I accepted all offered high-fives. I took my gels at 4 and 8, and Gatorade at every other mile. I dug in and pushed hard. I felt a blister forming at 6 miles – no problem. My guts started to feel wiggly around 8 miles – no problem. I had some cramping in my chest around 10 miles – no problem. I passed 10.5 miles – which is where I almost always bonk – no problem. The only moment when my energy flagged was when my watch said 13 miles but the finish line was obviously still a quarter mile away – and then I just swore and kicked into overdrive, and crossed at seconds over the 2 hour mark, very close to my personal best.
I was pleased. I was floored. I was exhausted, starving, and unimaginably gross. I collected a medal the size of my head and sat down to eat a tiny square of pizza. I found that I’d run negative splits for literally the entire race except one mile. I don’t know how this is possible.
As I walked slooooooowly back to the car, I shared a long post on Instagram which I’ll distill here: these days, running feels like a gift.