I spent this week recovering, but not entirely resting. I’m not a big fan of total rest, so I kept busy without knocking myself out: an easy spin on Wednesday, a slow and relaxed two-miler on Thursday, another spin on Friday and then I took yesterday off. By this morning, I was ready to go for a little longer run. The weather was fantastic and I took Big Boy and Little Boy out with me for the first two miles.
Ready to rock ‘n roll. Yes, it’s the middle of December and I’m still wearing a tank top – it was a perfect 55 degrees this morning with just a little fog. The boys regretted their choice of long sleeves within the first half mile, but I’m a nice mom and refrained from saying, “I told you so!”
Back at my house, I dropped off the boys, my camera and gloves and headed out on my own. I wasn’t sure how far I’d feel like going, but had the possibility of my favorite 6-mile route in mind (actually, this route is almost exactly 6.2 miles – my own personal 10K). Being off-plan this week has meant that I could pretty much do whatever I felt like whenever I wanted. Not quite a runnbattical, but not the rigors of marathon training, either. Nice.
As soon as I started running, I could feel my whole body relax. You know that feeling, where your feet start moving and you think, “Oh, yes, this is exactly what I needed!” My stride opened up and even though I knew I was running “too fast,” I simply didn’t care. I wasn’t aiming to hit a certain split time and I had zero interest in holding myself back. If I conked out halfway, I could slow down or cut it short – who would care?
My legs found a happy, comfortable pace and I felt like I was floating. My mind was both meandering – working through the stress of daily life and the holidays – and strangely focused – ticking off the pace, keeping my elbows in and my landings soft. My breathing never got labored, my heart never felt like it was pounding too hard. Everything about this run felt glorious. In the end, I chose the 6-mile route and closed the morning with 8.2 miles. The first two miles were at Little Boy’s pace -9’05” - and the last 10K? Um, yeah, I ran that at an astonishing 7’43” min/mi, which is over twenty seconds per mile faster than my current 10K PR pace. That PR is going down in 2011!
Running, like everything in life, has its peaks and valleys. I’ve seen my share of disappointments in this sport - I’ve worked hard to see minimal gains, been crushed by mediocre race results, and moped my way through injuries. And in the four-plus years I’ve been running, I’ve probably only had a handful of runs like the one this morning, where the stars aligned and angels sang and the running gods declared, “Today is your day, P!” But I’ll take that handful. They sure do make everything else worthwhile.