Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Three months of training.  Approximately 62 hours, or 350 miles, or 50 runs.  An entire winter/spring season spent looking forward to one event.  And now, suddenly, I'm on the other side of it.  13.1 miles, done.

The Run Through Redlands 5K was the first race I participated it.  It was 2011, I was carrying an additional 20 pounds and couldn't run two straight miles.  I felt terrible on the morning of the race, like a big poser on the way to make a total fool of myself.  Afterwards... I can't really describe the feeling.  Happy, high, accomplished, a part of something wonderful, maybe? I promised myself that I would come back next year and run the half marathon.

But the next year, I was heavily pregnant and watched from the sidelines.  The year after, I was struggling to balance an always-sick infant with work and stopped running altogether in the spring.  I once again toed the line of the 5K and, though it was a great day, I was envious of all the other runners who made the turn for the half marathon while I huffed and puffed my way to the finish line.

This year was my year.  I followed a training plan for 13 straight weeks, running tempos and fartleks, hill repeats and intervals, even a 15 mile long run just as prescribed.  I cross trained to build muscle with the hope of gaining speed and avoiding injury.  There were plenty of early mornings and not-so-great runs, but honestly, I enjoyed the training process immensely.  I wasn't sure if I would like being on a training plan (I mean, come on, adding yet another set of have-to's to my day? Really?)  but I actually loved knowing ahead of time what my workouts would be for the week and knocking them out one by one.  I went to bed early and gave up alcohol with a sense of purpose, knowing that I needed to be at my best to crank out 25-30 mile weeks.  It took discipline, yes, but I also found it sort of... freeing.

So, while I was looking forward to the race, I went into it relaxed and feeling ready to accept whatever the day brought me.  I've come a long way since my first Run Through Redlands three years ago, reflecting on the journey at the starting line of a half marathon was humbling.  Just getting there, making it through the training and arriving on race day healthy, in shape, and ready to run, was enough.

Well.... almost enough.  I still really wanted to beat my 2:29 PR.

The race went by in a blur.  The crowd was sparse but enthusiastic, the volunteers were incredible, and the hills were as painful as expected.  My whiny knee quieted down and didn't make a peep for the entire run.  I took 3 Gus and drank water at every aid station.  I stopped running once to switch to a different podcast, which probably added a minute to my finishing time.  I have no memory of the middle of the race, except that it went by quickly and I was grateful for cool weather and overcast skies.  I ran the last two miles fast, and my lungs burned. My family was waiting for me along the final stretch, but I was so focused on breathing and hauling ass that I did not even see them.

Final time?  2:21:29.

That's a PR by 8 minutes, and exactly what I hoped to accomplish.  Overall, it was a fantastic morning and a near-perfect race.

I popped a bottle of wine and am taking two weeks off from serious running, but after that... we'll see.  I am the sort of person who needs goals, so I can guarantee that I will not be between training cycles for too long.  It's time to set my eyes on a new prize.

For now, I'm content to kick back and spend a few early mornings looking at this face instead of hitting the road.  Can you blame me?

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