Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Loop

Today I reached another milestone in training, completing a 6-mile loop through New Castle and Portsmouth.

It was the first time the Sunday run didn't include an "out and back," where the team runs to the half-way mark for that week's mileage, then turns around to head back to the starting point.

My training schedule had me slated to do 4 miles today. But I had already done 5 miles in last Sunday's run, so I thought I could add another mile.

On the sign-in sheet this morning, I checked off that I planned to run 5 miles. I didn't want to be overly ambitious and wanted to see how I felt once I started running.

Soon after I started, I knew I would go for the whole 6-mile loop. The weather was perfect, a cool bright morning. And running along the coastline was beautiful. I reminded myself more than once how much I enjoy living so close to the ocean.

Most of my team runs up until today had me running with a teammate -- mostly because we had the same pace and enjoyed chatting to pass the miles away.

Today was a little different. We all started together, but seemed to run at different paces. Soon we were spaced out along Route 1B.

As much as I enjoy running with a partner, it was nice this morning to have some time running alone. Even my runs at home are spent talking to Rebel and making sure he stays with me.

I enjoyed this morning's quiet. My shoes made a soft but steady sound as they hit the pavement. I spent my time taking in the scenery -- a heron in the harbor, beautifully manicured lawns and dozens of walkers, runners and cyclists who were also enjoying a morning of exercise on a crisp morning.

I could see my teammate in front of me for most of the way, and periodically glanced back to see the runner behind me. Our run coach, Jack, and other volunteers offered encouragement -- and a cup of Gatorade at the 5-mile mark -- at checkpoints and along the route.

Surprisingly, The Loop went by rather quickly.

I wasn't as winded or sweaty as I thought I would be, despite a tougher-than-expected hill on the last part of the route. The training must be working. Less than a month ago, I would have laughed if someone had told me I would be running 6 miles.

At the end of the run, a Team In Training alum shared her story of singing the "Rocky" theme song to help her make it up the last hill along The Loop. I'm pretty sure the song was going through my head, along with words of encouragement I repeated to myself as I ran the last hill. It helped. And I made it.

I had a good stretch at the end and left with that feeling that all of my teammates can relate to -- the feeling you get when you run farther than you've ever run before.

Have you donated to my fundraising campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society? If not, please consider doing so. You can donate online at Please pass this link to everyone you know. Every dollar helps me get a little closer to the Disney 13.1!

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