I’m still not 100% sure what my goals for this race are, but I wanted to reflect on a few things before this weekend.
I first decided to run this race (back in August), and I didn’t have any solid goals then, either. At the time it was more about getting back into the training groove after taking some time off, and rebuilding a solid base so that I could rock the Pittsburgh Marathon in May. I wanted to run a smart training cycle – listen to my body, don’t overdo it, and most of all HAVE FUN! I feel like I really did that and then some:
I started to incorporate real speed work into my training. Not just a half-assed attempt at a tempo or fartlek runs, either. Real honest to goodness speed work. And I liked it! For a long time, I would *try* (and I use that term loosely) to incorporate some speed into my training but I was going about it all wrong. If I was doing a tempo, I’d get that first warm up mile in and then go out way too fast and burn out before I even reached another half mile. I learned how to gradually increase my speed, so that I could maintain that pace and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I learned to LOVE hills! I used to hate hills. All of them. Then, earlier this year as I was training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon I decided that I needed to start incorporating some if I wanted to do well. I was also battling Achilles Tendonitis at the time and wasn’t able to run much, so I figured what little running I could do would be on hills to get the most bang for my buck. I showed up to that starting line with the least amount of training I’ve ever done for a race, was just grateful to be there, with had no time goal at all. I just wanted to have a good race, do the best I could on THAT day…and ended up setting a 2 minute PR and smashing my PR on that course by over 15 minutes! If you look at my training for that time by just the numbers – mileage and paces – I had NO business running a 2:18 that day. I firmly believe that those hills had everything to do with it, and I’ve been hooked ever since! I look forward to my Saturday hill runs, and I now go out of my way to make sure I hit as many as possible. Hills are the best!
I listened to my body. This can be one of the hardest parts of training, but I feel like I’m making progress! No one likes to take time off, but this year I’ve learned what can happen when you try to keep pushing through and I’ve realized that taking one or two days off is so much better than taking 1-2 months (or more) off because I was stubborn.
And, finally…my favorite part of this training:
I started running with a friend. Prior to this fall, I had never run with anyone before and to be honest, I didn’t think that I would like it. Then I learned how wrong I was. Running with a friend is the BEST! We can’t always get our schedules to work out but I truly look forward to meeting up with Jennifer on the weekends and am so grateful to have found a new friend who shares my love of running (and cats!).
To me, all of these things are so much more important than a number on the clock. I feel like I’ve made serious strides as a runner (ahaha, see what I did there?!), and am really starting to find my confidence and realize that I do have some speed in my legs! Would I like to come away with a PR? Sure! Obviously I would be thrilled, but I’m not going to get all hung up on that. I’m going to show up to the starting line and do the absolute best that I possibly can that day, have a good time, and just be grateful that I am out there doing what I love to do!