Hooray! This weekend’s run was as fun and easy as last week’s was miserable and hard. I’m sure luck had something to do with it, including the luck of a gorgeous sunny day. But here were my other ingredients:
Mixing up my training routine during the week: I did my shorter runs on Tuesday and Wednesday, and swam on Thursday, leaving myself two full days without running to give my body time to loosen up. I think what I hit last weekend was the maximum stiffness wall. Runners are tight in general, and I’ve never been flexible. Somehow my whole body was just unwilling to move last weekend. This weekend, a little extra rest seems to have helped.
Doing a three-part run: I ran the first four miles with one of my running buddies. We chatted about family and work, and shared the stories of our recent lives. The four miles flew by. We circled back to our neighborhood, where she left to get on with her Saturday, and I picked up my son, who was ready to deliver on one of the 20 run-with-mom coupons he’d given me for Mother’s Day. He’s a cross-country runner, almost done with his season, and he didn’t want to push too hard before his conference on Monday. But he can, of course, literally run circles around me (and often does), so three miles at my slow slog didn’t stress him much.
While both of this Saturday’s running buddies were charming companions, only one of them veered off the trail to do somersaults down the hill, and broke right back into running and talking. Oh, that 13-year-old energy!
So after three miles with Brad, circling back to our house once again, I hit the trail one last time for the last four miles. Buoyed by two great conversations (Brad and I talked about running and about how we incorporate new knowledge into old knowledge), I was light on my feet. A freshened up playlist on my i-pod was all I needed for company. The last four miles were a breeze.
When I came back to my neighborhood one last time, I didn’t want to go in the house. I just kept walking around and basking in the feeling of a great run, taking in the blazing colors of October leaves, which seemed brighter than ever.
Even though I’ve run two half-marathons before, every experience is different. The obstacles I faced then were mostly about fending off injuries. This time, it’s finding new trails, and trying to make myself feel safe on them, keeping myself fresh, and confronting some slightly different physical challenges. After last week, I was starting to wonder if I could actually do 13.2 miles. This week I rediscovered that inner runner, and, as my friend who’s training for the same race said, at this point in the training, you start to feel like a real runner. The race is just a few weeks away, most of my training is behind me. It all seems to have snuck up on me, but all of a sudden, I can run 11 miles, and I feel pretty confident I can do that again, and add on 2.2 more.