My family is on the brink of a lot of change right now – my husband started a new job yesterday, for the first time since before we had children. It is a wonderful change and a needed change, but change can be so hard and it can be scary, even when you believe at your very core that it is for the best. Making changes requires a lot of courage and so much faith and I also believe it requires teamwork and togetherness. Just like anything else in life that is worth anything, it is hard.
I was so happy on Wednesday morning when my mother-in-law agreed to watch all three of our kids so that Robert could accompany me for my 10 mile run. He hopped on his bike and we entered First Landing State Park. For the first few miles I was running an easy, conversational pace as he biked alongside me and we talked about nothing and everything. I love when we can do this – it takes us both back to times we spent together before we had children and getting to do this together is such a rare treat now that we have such a busy life!
The park trail was just beautiful – crisp fall leaves all over the packed sand trail, crinkling under my feet. Clear blue skies above and cypress trees cradling us on both sides of the trail. I am in heaven when I am in that park. Running on the trails relaxes me instantly and my worries melt away.
Robert sped up in front of me and I decided to turn the run into a tempo, picking up my pace to about 6:50 for a few miles. It was FUN. Hard work – chasing him on his bike and holding my pace steady and fast – but tons of fun. I was so happy that my legs were feeling so good. My heart was soaring.
This was my first attempt at any sort of speed work since MCM – I have wanted to be careful about how hard I push myself before Rehobeth in 2 weeks. Running marathons 6 weeks apart with the intent of racing the second one faster than the first one (when you already PR’d in the first one) is tricky business — it is for me, at least. I want to be smart and strategic about how I approach this. I deal with self doubt on a regular basis, especially when I’m pushing myself and testing new limits. What I’m doing right now is risky, but in my heart I believe I can do it and do it well. Wednesday’s run was a great reminder that I am on the right track. 10.5 miles with 4 at tempo pace and an overall average pace of 7:42.
I have not lost my fitness. I have not lost my mental strength. I have not lost my stamina. Everything I have worked for is still there, and in many ways I feel stronger now than I did when I started the taper for MCM. This is hard for me to believe, but it is the truth.
Saturday morning I hit the trail at 7am for 20 solo miles. I took it one mile at a time and told myself to just be in the moment. To soak up this beautiful park that I love so much. To enjoy the gorgeous morning – the cold salt air and the wind and the sound of the leaves. I imagined myself running Rehobeth in this way, with this grateful and present mindset. It is going to be a small marathon in one of my favorite beach towns. I am going to love being there. It is going to be a wonderful day. It just can’t not be!
This was a long run that I simply did not want to end. My pace felt effortless. I was gliding across the trails, my body naturally adjusting itself over the tree roots and rocks as I ran over them. I was smiling from deep inside my heart, knowing I was just where I needed to be – feeling just how I needed to feel.
I practiced my race day nutrition and carried my water bottle just like I will in Rehobeth. When the wind whipped (and it did!), I eased up and didn’t fight it. I felt in control and aware. It was pretty much perfect.
I picked my pace up for the second half of the run – the first half most of my miles were in the 7:50s and the second half most of them were in the 7:30s. I finished STRONG with a fast last mile in 7:07. I had energy to spare. I could have kept going.
20 miles two weeks before Rehobeth with an average pace of 7:43. This is for sure the strongest I have ever felt on a long run. 73 miles completed for the week – I have crested the “peak” of my 6 week training cycle – and now I taper again.
This overall training cycle – the big picture, from when I started training for MCM – has been so much more than wonderful. I have stood up to my fears, looked my doubts in the face, found a way to keep my love and gratitude for this sport and all that it brings into my life even when everything hurts and feels so hard or it would be so much easier to just NOT do it — front and center. My body has gained strength, my legs have gained speed, my heart has gained courage.
Rehobeth will not be some sort of “redemption marathon” for me. It will be a celebration. It will be 26.2 miles of heart-on-my-sleeve amazingness.
I really can’t wait.