Thursday, January 01, 2009
My goal for running in 2008 was a simple one: Take it to the next level.
When I announced that to my husband, he was preplexed. Hadn't I just run my first marathon in 2007? What more is there?
There is, as my fellow runners know, much more (without even getting into the concept of ultras). By training for that first marathon, I was born again as a runner. 2008 gave me the opportunity to take the next steps.
In the winter, I didn't stay inside and let my fitness level lapse. I bought cold weather gear, toughed it out, and discovered the joy of running in the snow.
I added speedwork to my training and altered my goals so that they weren't just to participate in and finish races, but to perform better. Instead of avoiding hills, I sought them out, even during tough long runs.
When I piled on the miles in marathon training, I didn't use that as license to eat giant chocolate chip cookies every day. Instead, I considered better sources of fuel and ate a heck of a lot of chocolate chip cookies.
I learned more about running, devouring books on the subject, seeking out the advice and opinions of fellow runners.
The results include a multitude of accomplishments that I'm proud of. I scored PR's in almost every distance, added a new distance - the trisko - to my resume, ran somewhere in the neighborhood of 780 miles, and came home with four age group awards. But those numbers don't tell the whole story, not to me.
The best example of having my running be at a higher level came on Mother's Day. I was registered to run my first trisko, and I'd had some rough going in the weeks leading up to it. I had an injury that forced me to take a week off of running and to eliminate speedwork in the time leading up to the race, forcing me to revise my goal from 2 hours to "whatever."
The morning of the race greeted me with horrific weather. It was cold and pouring rain. I knew that running a long run would be a tough, possibly miserable experience. "Why am I doing this," I wondered. I could very easily make the decision to just stay in bed. No one would really blame me for it, and I could just spend Mother's Day being pampered.
Instead, I got out of bed, laced up my shoes, and made my way to the starting line with the other gluttons for punishment. I realized that it was times like this that showed what I was made of, not just as a runner, but as a human being. I was making the choice to do something even though it wasn't easy, even though it would be downright unpleasant at times. I had worked hard for it, and I knew that I could - and would - do it, for myself.
I had to run portions of that race with my head ducked down to keep my hat from being blown off my head. The rain soaked my feet before I even started the race. There were no spectators for most of the race, only volunteers trying to stay as dry as possible. A hill at mile 12 had quite a few other runners walking. But I pressed on, doing my best to savor the experience and all of its challenges.
I finished the race proud, not just of my time of 2:05 - not too shabby considering what was working against me - but of the fact that I made the choice to go to the starting line, put one foot in front of the other, and keep running.