Sunday, November 2, 2014

Not always all about the race: October running

It's been nearly a month since my last blog post, so these are just the greatest hits of October - can't believe it's over!
In continuation of my random fall season of signing up for races on a whim, I signed up for the Rock and Stroll 10k in Alexandria over Columbus Weekend. It poured and was windy - not the most ideal conditions. I was hoping to be fairly competitive (new race and the winner got $100), but I faded after 1 6:30 mile and ran 43:29 (for 7:00 pace). Again, given that I'm not doing any formal training, it was a fine race. I also think we accumulate a certain number of bad weather races - and I was overdue for crappy weather. I will say, the hot shower and post-race nap were some of the biggest perks of the race!
I do love to race, but I am also grateful that racing is not the only reason I love to run. The weekend after that race, I decided to go for a really long run. I had finally gotten back to covering 13 miles, and I thought I may as well add a few more. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I traversed through Virginia on the Washington and Old Dominion trail, the miles just added up. I had a 2+ hour long running podcast (Marathon Talk) that served to keep me company, as funny British marathoners Martin Yelling and Tom Williams bantered on and on. As I went further down the path into Reston, the people who were just out for a light stroll dissipated, and it was so quiet and peaceful. Not isolated enough that there was no one in sight (don't worry, Mom!), but just peaceful and no need to hear cyclists cry out "on your left" or just glide by like they were on the Tour de France. My legs felt loose and free, and I felt like i could just go on forever. In the end, it ended up turning into a 16 mile run, and while I stumbled into the house tired, it was the good kind of tired. It had been over six months since I had gone that far, and it put me up to 51 miles for the highest mileage I had ran in again, about six months. Feeling strong and happy.
Heaven on earth
I had the honor of pacing one of my dearest friends, Jenny, in the Marine Corps Marathon. She had decided that this was going to be her last marathon. I ran with her for her first marathon four years ago (Marine Corps 2010), I paced her to a BQ at Marine Corps 2011, and she then went to Boston to participate in one of the great races of the world, only to be met with a terrorist attack shortly after she finished. That was not the end to her story, so she came back to DC for her last hurrah, her victory lap. She ran 4:16, and while there were moments of pain as she crossed the bridge from DC to Virginia at the 20 mile mark, we crossed the finish line together hand in hand. It was a run of friendship and a great way to celebrate four years of her hard work.
Me and my friend Jenny after she finished the Marine Corps Marathon
While 50,000 people were lining up on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge this morning for the NYC Marathon, trying to block the 40mph gusts of wind, I went out for my own jaunt around Virginia. I had in my head to run 16, and it was only going to take some heart to make that happen.  It was cold, my legs were tired, and it seemed like a pipe dream. Was I doing this for the right reasons? Was I just trying to show that I still have game? Or was this also a test of endurance? It wasn't until at least 8 miles in that I felt confident in my ability to get through the run, and it felt like the wind was blowing in my face no matter which direction I went. I kept thinking about New York, and those people were in it for the long run, literally, they were going to spend all morning, and into the afternoon, trying to capture this American dream. Surely I had it in me too. It wasn't glamorous, my victory strides back into my apartment complex, and I stumbled in, relieved for it to be over. It brought me up to another 51 mile week, and gave me more confidence that yes, I can enjoy running just for running's sake, and yes, I can still go far (although not as fast as I used to). It's just not always all about the race('bout the race, 'bout the race, no treble!)
I will find my racing mojo again, but in the meantime, I still have a running mojo. This fall is cold, but just too damn beautiful to let these short days just slip away, faster than the leaves can change and litter the ground.