This weekend I attempted my first real long run since CIM. I know, 6 weeks, right? And ahhhh, it felt amaaaaazing. I met up with them women I ran with last weekend and dang they are fast! We started out at a restaurant and ran down to the bike trail for a 12 miler. Something about group dynamics forces you to do things you wouldn’t on your own– we kept looking at our watches and forcing each other to slow down. At one point I saw 7:40s on my watch which doesn’t work for me on a long run!
We chatted and chatted, enjoyed the beautiful day (50 degrees, clear and sunny. I wore shorts and a short sleeved shirt!) and before I knew it I was back and done! There was a moment around mile 10 where my mouth started to go numb and I felt like I was going to puke, but I still don’t want to be the slow new girl so I kept it up! I couldn’t believe when I looked at my watch- 8:28 pace for the long run– if I’d tacked on one more mile at that pace I would have been close to PR’ing in the half marathon! The thing is, I felt pretty good. I forgot how amazing it feels when you finish a long run– I was super giddy and happy and hadn’t felt so light in a long time. I even indulged in a breakfast bagel after!
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of running with people if you want to improve. Had I been alone there is no way on earth I would have pushed myself on Saturday but running in a pack made the effort feel so much easier and the company made it almost pleasant. It helped that it was a gorgeous day and the bike trail was packed with happy runners, but seriously– if you want to run faster, find folks who run faster than you do and run faster!
Sunday I felt the effects of running so long and hard on Saturday and went out for 6 easy. The weather was gorgeous and I enjoyed myself but the legs were heavy so I just cruised. I didn’t wear my watch but I assume my pace was in the 9s. I took time to admire the high water level in the river, to wave at my neighbors and notice that there are signs of spring– bulbs are poking through the ground and some of the trees are starting to get tiny buds.
I’m really enjoying running again. And enjoying it for its own merit- not because I’m chasing a goal or a time or anything like that. Sure, I have goals– there’s a 1/2 marathon in a few weeks I’d like to do well in and I’m getting excited about some fast races this summer, but I’m mostly running because I want to. Because I can and because I love it. Being injured was horrendous but it really gave me perspective and forced me to appreciate running for its own sake. I’m all about goals, but I’m also about balance and right now, for me, training hard and running, like Forest Gump says, “for no particular reason at all” suits me just fine. That doesn’t mean I’m lazy– I ran nearly 50 miles last week, but it does mean I’m giving myself space to breathe and not forcing myself to do anything I don’t want to. I’m just enjoying feeling the cool morning air, the breeze on my skin and the clean, emptied out feeling you get after a job well done.