Since July, I’ve been training again for my half marathon in October. I gave myself 3 more weeks of training this year to make it a solid 13weeks. My friends, Cheri & Megan, agreed to do the race together just like we had last year. After consulting our schedules, we decided we’d have to train separately during the week and do our long runs together on the weekends.
In the beginning, it wasn’t so bad. I learned the joy of running by myself. Quiet time to think and release the tension of the day. Smelling the wonderful aroma of summer and watching nature as I went by. The longer runs, which are pretty short in the beginning of training, were good. Megan and I managed to get our 4 and 5 mile runs in together before it was obvious that her IT band was not going to tolerate the grueling miles any longer. She’d have to be out this year as well as our friend Amy. Team Hottie was chopped in half.
Cheri and I continued our training. Our lives were so jam packed full of things that we’d have to work our runs into whatever time we could and those just never seemed to align. 9 weeks have gone by with no running partner. And with no distractions during my run, I got serious about my training. I’ve kicked it up a notch and focused on my times and hill work. It’s been going really good.
Then last weekend, I ran 10 alone. Before it even began, I was tired of it. I had reached a mental roadblock. I was tired of running alone. The joy of running was no more. All I could thinking before, during and after was THIS SUCKS! I missed having a partner to share the bliss of finishing a run in what Don Kern of the GR Marathon deems an ‘honest sweat’. Woohoo’s just don’t feel as victorious when yelled inside your head as they do with a friend and the miles seem to just drag on as you travel the same path and scenery over and over again.
But today… today was different. It was the return of the Bridge Run. It was a year ago that I ran it as my very first race and what a difference a year has made to me as a runner.
Last year, I felt like a baby runner. I was technically running but I wouldn’t call myself a runner without a long-winded apology of how I just pretended to be one, I was really slow and blah blah blah. But as time has gone by, I feel more confident in my ability. I enjoy it more now, I’m faster and I have a better understanding of what my body is capable of.
Today was a beautiful morning. The air was chilly and it felt amazing to run along side my friend. To feel my feet moving under me and my legs stretching in a natural pace. To feel the cool air fill my lungs. I felt alive and free. The joy had returned.
As we ran on, I couldn’t believe how awesome I felt. The sun was in the sky, the park and river looked so beautiful and as I ran over the bridge just before the 9 mile mark, I shouted back to Cheri that I was taking off. Time to kick it into high gear.
I shot off. I ran hard and it felt terrific. My lungs burned as I pushed myself past other people. I wasn’t racing them, just myself. My goal was to finish 10min faster than my time last year. A quarter of a mile away from the finish line, I could hear my body asking to slow down. It hurt from this pace and while part of me thought that sounded great, the other part was determined to finish hard.
I crossed the finish line and I checked my time… 1:34:12. I had done it! I took 10:30 min off my race time from last year! WOOHOO!!!