Kelly Drive at Falls Bridge looking East towards the Philadelphia
Time to que up 'Eye of the Tiger' and get down to business - I'm making my comeback and it's never felt better! One month, one week and three days from today I have my first half marathon of the year and after all the setbacks that have happened I was starting to feel slightly less than confident. Between all the days the snow kept me from getting to the gym or work deadlines that had me at my desk well past dinner I just didn't feel like I had racked up enough mileage. Or at least I hadn't racked up enough mileage to be on plan for my long runs. And anyone that has run a marathon or a half knows that long runs make all the difference. It's your practice rounds, getting your body used to the distance. And when there isn't snow on the ground it is one of my favorite parts of running because (at least in my world of training) speed doesn't matter on a long run, only that you log the miles and then recover.
When I looked at my training calendar early last week and noticed '8 miles' neatly penciled in on the square for Saturday my heart sank a little. My first thought was '8 miles on a treadmill sounds like complete and utter torture' my second thought was 'even if I could withstand the boredom, could my body handle that distance?" And then several miracles occurred. First Monday's workout was a horrible disaster and had to be cut short, and then mother nature decided to bestow upon us the most wonderful gift imaginable. A warm, sunny, perfectly amazing in every way weekend. Hope has been restored! I can run outside!
Since my workouts all week would be 3 miles - I made sure they were HARD. I ran intervals with an incline on Wednesday, and a tempo run on Thursday. I made sure to do abs, arms and hamstring exercises before AND after my runs. By Friday night I was tres sore and it felt fabulous in ways only a runner could ever understand!
When I woke up Sunday I was a little unsure but I forced myself to think positive thoughts. I know enough to know that 50% of my success has to do with my attitude. If I let even a sliver of a negative thought into my head they multiply like rabbits until I am convinced to give up. I try not to focus on the fact that I haven't run on actual ground in MONTHS. I have been on a treadmill and I am not convinced that you work as hard on a treadmill as you do when your entire body is doing all the work.
After a breakfast of an egg bagel with butter, cereal, and coffee plus a big glass of water, and spending time letting that all digest while watching Top Gun with Boyfriend, I start to get ready. I pull on my running tights and chose a lightweight short sleeve technical tee, guessing that it's going to be warm in the sun but still cold until I get warmed up. Sunscreen, check. IPod, check. Inhaler, check. Keys, check. I guess it's now or never.
The first part of my route is an uphill climb, but it feels more natural than any run in the beginning of March has ever felt. I get so excited and once the road levels off I start running in beat with the music until I feel my breath start to get tight. Too much too soon. I slow down but keep my pace steady.
There is a slight breeze every now and again but I could never have asked for better weather. The sun is shinning bight on my face and not being tied to a machine or having to stare at my reflection makes me feel incredibly free. By the time I have covered two miles I have hit Kelly Drive, a runners paradise. The river is on my left, and people are out in all forms. Walkers, runners, skaters, children, dogs, all taking advantage of an early dose of spring. My eyes are on people watching overload as I notice each person and make up the stories of their lives. When I see other runners I wonder how far they are running today, how fast they can run, are they training for a race, or are they out for fun. Before I know it I have run four miles and it is time to turn around. I just may make it after all.
'Bulletproof' -by La Roux comes onto my IPod and I being to realize how serious I am about training for this race. I'm sure if you listen to the song it's about being burned in a relationship and not making the same mistake twice. But in my mind the relationship that burned me was the one with my last race. I have a half marathon coming up and I am not going to have it be a DNF like last time. First and foremost I want to finish this race, and second I want to run decent time. I have one last obstacle before I can call this run a victory though. School House Lane. Yikes!
There are a few different roads to get back to my house and the one I choose most often, although I am not sure why, is School House Lane. It is probably about 1/2 mile of pure uphill if not more. It starts out with a few switchbacks and then a decent incline of uphill, followed by a slight incline. All of those three on their own would be no problem, but one after another after another are KILLER! Some days the idea alone of running that route gives me an anxiety attack. But today I take it as slow as I need to, even if it means it takes forever. My feet are moving so slow I am practically walking. People driving by in their cars look over at me and I am sure they think I am crazy. They may be right, I may be crazy. But I make it to the top. I make it to the traffic light, and then the next light, and turn the corner for the last downhill stretch.
And then I am done. I see a stone bench on the corner and reach out to sit down on it but I don't make it that far. My hands land on it's cold rough surface and I remain there, bent over trying to catch my breath for a good minute. When I regain my strength to walk up to my house I feel nothing short of incredible. I have run eight miles many MANY times in the past years, I have run much farther than eight miles and I have run much faster than I did today. But the accomplishment I am proud of is the fact that I ran eight miles during the first week of March. I have never been in this kind of shape this early in the season. And it's because I was so determined not to let anything get in my way. Did I have set backs? sure. Tons of them. But no matter how many days I went without running, the second I had a sliver of a chance to jump back into the game I went for it. Just because things don't always go as planned doesn't mean you have to give up. Just use it as motivation to keep in going