Over the past 8 years, my long runs have become the standard part of every week where I can go and solve the worlds problems. Not to say that I don't love doing these runs with friends; solving the worlds problems can be hilarious when amongst your closest friends for hours on end. Whether alone, or falling in step with a running partner, there is something about a long run that makes you feel so alive.
I was having an email conversation with a good friend who's running her first marathon (Chicago!) this fall. She's up against her first 18 miler tomorrow, and I had sent her along some encouragement going into the run. Her response was this: "I'm honestly NOT stressed about the run. I am constantly shocked by how much I've been looking forward to the long run days and how well I've felt during them, even. It's just incredible what the body will do if you quiet your mind and just go for it."
And that couldn't be more true. When I was out awaiting my surgery (and then recovering) it was what I missed the most about running. Even now, a little less than 4 months post-surgery, I get creative with my schedule so I can accomodate a long run. Yes, even if that means having to take the day before and day after off. Very anti my "run-like-hell" strategy, I know.
Friday was my birthday (what? you did not know this? Gasp!), and I wanted to celebrate my 33rd with a 33km run. Yes, I thought about a 33-miler, but then I also thought about my leg spontaneously combusting. Right, so back to 33km. I headed out to the trails just as the sun was rising - I brought my GPS boyfriend (we've had a spotty relationship since surgery, as he likes to tell me I'm grossly out of shape), but set the screen to display HR only. I gave myself ample time, so that I knew no matter what, I wasn't going to feel rushed. I took a deep breath, and headed off into the woods.
I had one of those runs that just went by too fast. No no no, the RUN wasn't fast, but it felt like it ended too soon. And that's with the 93% humidity (nope, not a typo) soaking every piece of fabric, every strand of hair, and what felt like every part of my skin. Yet I didn't really notice; I was busy bounding rocks, and dodging trees. Dancing around sticks, and over bridges, I'm pretty sure I was the happiest girl around.
And when it was over, I just smiled. Not once over the course of those hours was I tempted to look at my pace; I didn't care. When I got annoyed with the 8 million deer flies, or had a moment of "I'm tired", I just let myself have the moment, and then moved on.
When I thought about my run on the drive home, I started to panic that I've lost my competitiveness. Things such as "why the hell didn't I care about pace", and "I can't believe I didn't think about throwing in a few miles at marathon pace" start creeping into my mind. And almost instantly, I shut it down. There will be a time and place over the next 12 months for track work, tempo runs, and running at "oh my God I'm going to vomit on myself" pace.
Until that time comes, I'm going to enjoy exactly what I'm doing: running. And especially these long runs.
|View from the early miles.. How can you not love doing this??|