It's been quite some time since I've sat down to write. Life is happening. And in some ways, it's flattened me; and in some ways it's expanded me.
My son graduated in May and within twenty-four hours of that precious event, my sister's death sent my world crashing. I'm still recovering. And as I do, I've turned to running for therapy. It's my peace, my confidant, my centering rock. Don't get me wrong, I know it's not the running itself that's magical, it's the place it takes my mind and my spirit.
I'm eleven weeks in to my Marine Corps Marathon training plan. I probably upped my mileage too fast, as I do. But this time instead of promptly backing down at the first sign of aches and pains, I've listened to what my aches and pains are telling more. They mostly scream, "Stretch more, you big dummy!" And I'm somewhat obeying, which makes a world of difference. I'm reaching nearly 40 miles a week-- lots for me.
Last weekend, I ran the King of the Hill 5k. We pretty much have ONE hill in South Florida, not counting bridges, overpasses and parking garages. (Yes, if you're serious about running in SoFL, you run all of those.) Vista View Park in Davie, Florida was (brace yourself) once a trash dump. Actually, technically, it still is because the trash is still all (safely, I hope) buried under mounds of dirt. Pleasant, right?
I wasn't really looking forward to this race-- this was also the weekend of my first 20-miler of my training plan. The question was: when the 20 miles?
Saturday-- doing a hill-laden 5k the day after just seemed like a really bad plan, and that would mean I miss my Saturday CrossFit session.
Sunday-- run 10 miles or so before the 5k, run the 5k, then run the remainder of the 20. Yuck-o.
Monday-- Labor Day, but on tired hilly 5k legs?
I chose Monday. So, back to the 5k...
I got there about 90 minutes before the start-- only one way in, only one parking payee, get there early they said. I had no trouble and no lines and no wait for the bathroom and an exorbitant amount of time before the start.
The course had us running pretty much straight up a hill at the start. Then down the hill, then up a smaller slope, down the slope and back up the taller hill to the finish. Can I just be clear for a minute-- when I say "hill," I'm not talking geographically-- I'm sure technically they don't even register as hills. My Map My Run app measured a grand total of 207 feet of elevation gain (stop laughing-- I live at 0 feet above sea level).
Knowing the 20 would be the next day, my "plan" was to go easy (I say "plan" because, well a 5k is a race, and race means there's a finish line and a winner. I'm just too competitive for my own good). There were a few moments where I found myself thinking, 20 miles. I probably should slow down. But after doing an inventory, I found that I felt really good-- a completely foreign feeling in a hard 5k. I saw no reason to back down the pace when I felt so stinking good. (And there was that lady at my elbow who would surge on the down hills and get passed on the uphills. She couldn't hang on the last one, and I finished just ahead of her. Thank you, lady, for a great race.)
Somehow I managed to run my way to the top of my age group. But the greater glory might have been the scoop of Ben & Jerry's cookie dough ice cream at the finish. Or maybe the conversation with the Old Timer as he rested from his race comfortably in the shade.