Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Trails to You . . . Until We Meet Again

It was a gorgeous fall weekend in New England, and I've managed to run a total of about 18 miles since last weekend's marathon adventure. The title of this post came to me on Saturday, when I did 5 easy miles on the most technical part of the trail system near my home. It's narrow, rooty, rocky and sloped in parts, so it's a great way to ensure a nice slow pace. I ran a little under 10:00/mile, and enjoyed the sights, smells and sounds of the woods in deep autumn. Other than nearly falling flat on my face due to missing a leaf-concealed stump/root, it was simply bliss to be out there.

I thought about how happy I was to run without any agenda. To just move at whatever pace my body dictated. I thought about not having a time-based goal, not training for something right now, not doing anything more than just feeling cool air on my skin and the movement of my arms and legs. And then I thought of the marathon, not as a sport, but as a challenge, my own personal Everest. To be conquered, in Sir Edmund Hilary's immortal words, "Because it's there." And, finally, my thoughts turned to Boston, and in what seemed like an instant, I came to terms with the fact that I will not be running the Boston Marathon in April 2009. To shift metaphors rather clumsily here, my running Holy Grail remains secreted in its ark, and I will have to continue my quest via smart, hard training and more discipline and commitment.

So, with all of that swirling through my head, I realized that I was happy on the trails, and that my BQ attempt and I will certainly meet again, most likely in the Spring.

On Sunday, I set out in a long-sleeve shirt, light gloves and a headband just in case the wind picked up. It didn't really, and it was just beautiful out there. I wanted to run at least 8 miles, but was prepared to cut it short if my legs felt heavy. At about 8.5 miles, I realized I should head home, since it probably would not help my recovery to go much longer. I logged almost 9.5 miles, at about an 8:45 pace, with an average heart rate of about 145. It's great to be recovering so quickly from Chicago, and I am now very much looking forward to my two upcoming running events.

On November 2, I'll be running a half-marathon, trying to capitalize on my (untapped) marathon fitness and - hopefully - set a new personal best.

On December 7, I'll undertake the 40-mile run for my 40th birthday, in memory of and fundraising for my cousin who died of brain cancer at age 35. More details on that to follow.


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