On the other hand, I couldn’t stop wondering if 1:25:44 really will be my best half ever, forever.
Internet, we may not like it, but the fact of the matter is, we are all getting older. And as we get older, we will eventually get slower.
Now, I'm not saying that all runners over the age of 29 should just pack it in. There are plenty of fantastic athletes who are not spring chickens. We all saw the way that Constantina Dita-Tomescu rocked out the Olympic marathon in Bejing at the age of 37. And Dara Torres may not be a runner, but she is an inspiration, swimming amazing times against athletes much younger than she is. What I am saying is that although we runners are healthier, sexier, and more overall awesome than everyone else in the universe, we are not immune to the aging process.
The key, as I see it, is to look at your running career not as one big volume, but to break it down into different phases.
Many of my Blogging Running Friends (BRF's) discovered running in adulthood. Not me. I ran my first 5K when I was 10 years old. I ran cross country and track all through high school., then rediscovered running after I turned 30 and had Jack.
I am incredibly proud of the athlete that I am today, and of all that I have accomplished. But I am definitely slower than I used to be. My 5K PR at the moment is 25:13, which is an 8:something average mile pace (I don't feel like doing the math exactly). When I was running varsity cross country, if I had finished a mile in 8:something, I would have died of shame. Miles started with 6 or maybe 7, not 8.
I am working hard and improving my speed all the time, but I don't think I will ever be as fast as I used to be.
But I'm completely okay with that.
The fact of the matter is, I am a completely different person now than I was when I was 17. I weigh about the same as I did then (don't hate me; I worked for it), but I have padding where I didn't before and muscle definition that I didn't before. I look at the world differently - less selfishly, more patiently, and a lot less seriously.
A common piece of advice given to runners is "Run your own race." I keep those words of wisdom in mind. I shouldn't be preoccupied with the shadow of my 17 year old self any more than I should be with the other runners on the course.
We race not just against the clock, not just against the other runners, but against inertia. No matter how slow you might be, every run is a victory against complacency. That poem about "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me" is a cliche now. Instead, think of this one:
When I am an old woman, I shall wear running shoes
And enter races that I have not a prayer of winning
And I will race them as fast as I can
Never apologizing for my lack of speed