Saturday, September 15, 2012
I'm back on the horse. Well, I have a way to go, but I'm at least in the barn.
This morning started my official training regimen for the Manchester Half Marathon. I use the phrase "training regimen" very loosely here. The race will be here sooner than I know it and certainly there's no PR in the cards.
Perhaps I should say that today officially started the first step of getting back to having running be part of my life, starting with weekly long runs.
I've really been struggling with the motivation to run for a while now. A long while. I've gone in spits and spurts of semi-consistent running, but mostly I haven't much cared if I missed a run. Gone, long gone, are the days that I would be antsy if I missed too many consecutive days.
I may dig deeper into the cause of my hiatus - my mental hiatus - but, for now, I'm just looking forward to getting back on the horse.
What better way to do that than to return to the basics of why I started running in the first place? It was never about pace or finishing times or things like that. It was never about being "good" at it. It wasn't about PRs or goals or race resumes.
Running used to be just about being out there, pushing myself beyond what I think I could do, even if that meant doing it at 11-minute-miles. Running used to be about friendships and miles filled with chit-chat and laughter.
A few weeks ago my marathon-running buddy asked if I'd like to join her for the Manchester Half Marathon. More importantly, she asked if I'd like to join her in weekly trainings.
Having a standing "running date" is something I now realize that I've really missed. For the first couple of years of my running-life, I ran with people. The miles varied, and even the faces varied, but I was always surrounded by enthusiastic, fun people using running as a way to meet various goals - stay in shape, train for races, honor loved ones at charity races, acclimate to a new community, make friends.
I'd be lying if I said I was confident about my return to running-dates. I know I've fallen terribly out-of-shape, well below the level of the last time I'd run with this friend (or anyone, for that matter). I tried to prepare her, suggesting a short-ish route for our first long run at a very, very moderate pace.
I woke up this morning to the sound of rain. I can't tell you the last time I ran in the rain, something that used to be almost commonplace. If I hadn't had someone waiting for me, I'm sure I would have convinced myself that it would be okay to push the run off until later in the day.
But, running-dates have a way of getting you out of bed and out the door.
I agonized about what I should wear. Tank top? Long sleeves? Hat? I used to have a handle of what clothing combinations went with all conditions. Today, I was lost.
It was cool-ish and overcast, so I settled on a long-sleeved shirt and capris - a decision I would quickly regret when the clouds cleared and the sun warmed the air. Total rookie mistake. I knew my decision wasn't wise when I met my friend and found her wearing shorts and tank-top. We were clearly prepared for different seasons.
We headed out on a loop that I'd mapped earlier, one that would hook us up to part of the Manchester Half course. We knew it would be hilly. But we also know we need to run hills if we have any chance of surviving the "challenging" course in November.
I wore my Garmin and kept it solidly around 10-minute-miles, per my plan to make it all the way to the end without dying. As expected, the hills were hard. I huffed and puffed my way up them, telling myself it was good training and eventually, somehow, they would get easier.
I resisted the urge to think about how easy running used to seem, how we used to carry on conversations - hills or no hills - without skipping a beat. I resisted the urge to think about the fact that the race would be more than double the mileage we were running today. I resisted the urge to completely panic and call it quits.
And you know what? I loved today's run, something I honestly haven't said or thought in a really, really long time.
Yes, being out there this morning - despite the fact that I over-dressed, ran slower than I used to, completely struggled on the hills and even succumbed to a few walk breaks - reminded me why I love running. Finally.
It feels good to be back on that horse. Can't wait to be galloping around like I used to.