It was 45* and pouring rain…on the morning of my Pepaw’s memorial. I stayed up late watching TV and when I finally did sleep, it was restless, as I was nervous about speaking at the memorial. I set out for a run on unlit country roads at 6:20 a.m., when the sky was still completely pitch black. I didn’t have a hat (an absolute essential for a rainy run) and I (stupidly) decided at the last minute to not wear gloves.
All of these factors, combined with my self-proclaimed “2013 running slump” created the perfect storm for yet another disaster run. In fact, when I stepped onto the porch and saw the conditions, it was one of those days that, if I wasn’t marathon training, I know I would have gone straight back to bed.
But I was optimistic, as I have been on every run for the last 2 weeks. I just knew that at some point a good run would finally come. That I would eventually experience *that feeling* on a run. That one that is unexplainable to someone who doesn’t run. That one that keeps us coming back, despite the pain that often accompanies this sport.
As I started out in the rain, I tried to manage my expectations. The plan was to warm up for 3 miles, then attempt 3 miles between 7:15-7:23, then to cool down for 2 more. But I told myself that it was more important to feel good about the effort than to hit the pace early and fall apart at the end. If that meant 7:40 tempo miles, then so be it.
My headlamp needs new batteries, so it was very dim. Between that and the rain, I felt like I was running blind, but as the three warm-up miles progressed, I felt more and more like “myself” for the first time since my Christmas Day run. I started to get excited about the tempo miles, feeling the promise of a hard, but strong effort.
When my watch clicked over at mile 3, I opened my stride and picked up the pace. I intentionally started the first mile on a down hill and quickly was hitting a sub-7:00 pace. Once I settled in, I ran hard and steady, monitoring my pace as I pushed hard on the uphills and coasted the downhills: 7:17, 7:16, 7:14.
I finished feeling perfectly drained but not like I would keel over and die. And then I smiled during the entire 2 miles cool down, because for the first time in 2013, I felt great about the run. I finally felt like myself again.