This is unfortunately what I do. I will get better about blogging more consistently. I had a very busy August as we moved into our new home and time has gotten away from me as I work on getting into a new routine here.
So…shortly after moving into our new home–like the next weekend–I did my first trail race in a long time. Peer pressure–and the promise of a sweet medal–got the better of me. So I did the Two Face race…and it went really well. I actually loved it–much to my surprise. Suddenly I was overcome with a desire to run all of the trail, while still working on my speed for the fall races I had coming up. So I stayed the course and put trail on the back-burner.
I spent the better part of this year focusing on speed, and I was getting really burnt out on it from a mental standpoint. The summer was incredibly frustrating with the heat and humidity–I couldn’t hit my paces, I couldn’t hold my paces, and even though my coach and everyone else was assuring me that it was the weather, I still just couldn’t accept it. I’ve never worked so hard to consistently fall short–to the point I just wanted my big fall race to be over and done with so I could move on and stop thinking about it.
I love the hard work. I love the grind of training and having a plan. Nothing makes me happier than checking the boxes. But three back-to-back training cycles with a singular focus was pretty much my breaking point. I’ve learned a lot about myself this year, I stepped outside my comfort zone, I learned to dig deeper than I ever thought I could and that I’m capable of more than I ever thought. That’s been the beauty of having a coach–and why I knew I needed one. Some people can push themselves without that external influence–I knew I couldn’t. I knew I would keep selling myself short without someone pushing me to try. I may not have hit all the time goals I set this year, but I can say without a doubt that I left it out on the course every time. I gave it everything I had, even when things didn’t go according to plan.
Which brings me to the Columbus Half Marathon–my big fall goal race. I was going for a 2:10 half. I’d been working towards it steadfastly all summer, despite my frustration and waning interest. The weather broke, it all seemed to be lining up–even if I fell short of 2:10 I figured I would at least PR. Then race weekend hit and it was COLD. It was in the 30s the entire time I was running. I didn’t have quite enough clothing with me (I hadn’t run in those temps for months) and my legs never warmed up. I couldn’t get the turnover I needed to hit my paces. But I did the best I could and finished the race. One thing that really helped with my overall attitude towards it was that the whole race is a means of fundraising for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and mile 11 is the Angel mile–a tribute to the kids who didn’t make it. Having their families out there, cheering me on made it really impossible to be upset about something as insignificant as a race time. Was I going to hit my goal? No. Was I going to PR? No. But I’m healthy, I’m out there doing something that I love. I GET to do this, and not everyone is so lucky. When you put it in that perspective, nothing mattered but crossing the finish line.
Honestly? I was just happy for it to be over. I’d originally had a goal for EQT as well–and by the time I was done in Columbus I didn’t care. I decided that my times didn’t matter anymore, I just wanted to enjoy myself and running for at least a month. No pressure. No times to think about. Just go out and run with my friends and have a good time. So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I almost didn’t even start my watch for EQT–I just enjoyed running through my city. I took in the views in a way I don’t when I’m worried about my pace. I took Jello shots when offered near the finish line–I never would have even noticed them if I’d been worried about my time. It was great.
Which brings me to this week…I met with my coach to talk about next year. I’m so excited about next year. I’m going back to my roots, my first love–distance. Playing with speed has been fun, and something I want to continue to work on, but distance is how I fell in love with running in the first place. I’ve always wanted to do ultras–I’ve dreamed of doing 50 miles for years. Then I discovered that I didn’t really like trail (or so I thought…) so I kind of gave up on that. But my world opened up this year. So next year–bring it on. A marathon PR and 2 50-milers are in the works, and then I’ll change gears and work on speed for a fall half marathon. It seems I’ll be less likely to burn out since I’ll shift gears before the fall, and my plan will be more varied training for longer distances–I’ll get to do some trail, some stairs, some city roads, hills, speed. The variation will be good for me mentally. I’m excited to have a few more weeks of “freedom” before I’m back in training, but I’m equally excited for the possibilities next year holds.
One more thing to catch up on…my race this weekend. But I’ll save that for my next post (coming soon, I promise…)