Sunday, July 15, 2007

Run Your Race

Yesterday morning Lisa and I, along with our co-worker Aaron (who, incidentally totally cracks me up and who is LEAVING in 2 weeks to go get married and then roam around South America and then move to Oregon after which I will never see him again and this fact is causing me a tremendous amount of stress lately), along with our cheerleaders Melissa & Jo, subwayed it up to Central Park for the Naples Park-to-Park 10k. You might have noticed that UFF has been rather devoid of training updates recently, and that's pretty much because training hasn't been going awesomely. I haven't run 10M yet this season, and I've been whining about the heat and making excuses for not sucking it up and getting out there more. After yesterday, that's all going to change.

The race consisted of one counter-clockwise loop of Central Park, starting and ending at 102nd St. Aaron & Lisa & I started out running together. Aaron and I were running beside each other and as we approached Harlem Hill, a guy in a blue shirt asked us how we know each other. The conversation was headed toward being a race-day pickup (no, I'm not flattering myself, Lisa can confirm) with such genius lines as, "You look like a runner." Really? Wow! You mean wearing these running clothes, and running, and surrounded by 10,000 other runners? How flattering!

Aaron pulled ahead at that point and Lisa & I managed to lose Blue Shirt Guy to continue on our merry way. It was a very warm morning, and while I ran the first mile in decent time (considering it included Harlem Hill), I slowed down a bit after that, and when I checked my time at the Mile 4 marker I was not on track to meet my <1 hour (or at least, <10 minute mile) goal.

Something really good happened to me at that point, which is that I relaxed into it. This concept is kind of tough to describe. Last summer when I first did runs longer than 9 or 10M - that is, when I'd be running for longer than 1 1/2 hours, I learned that I needed to settle into the run, and just be present in that moment. In a shorter run, it's OK to get distracted thinking about the next rest station or hill or what's for breakfast afterwards, but in a longer run, more focus needs to be on what's happening right now - taking stock of how I feel in my body and my breath, how strong I feel mentally, etc. When I'm able to find that spot, my body relaxes and I'm much more comfortable running. I found it yesterday, and I'm sure that's what gave me the ability to push myself in the last third of the race, and finish strong in 1:02:39.

Last night when a friend asked me how I was doing vis-à-vis the stuff that's going on in my life, I happily realized that I might finally have found some of that relaxing into my life, the way I find it in running. Here's where I am, right now, and being aware of what's going on in this moment will allow me to make appropriate adjustments to my pace and posture so that I can keep going strong.

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