As April turned to May I gleefully returned all of my TNT training captain gear, got a new job, and started final preparations for the Cleveland Half Marathon. I made the decision to run with the Clif Bar Pace team -- in hopes that I wouldn't come off the starting line too fast and to shave another few minutes off my time. Both things happened along with an unexpected third thing -- I barely used my run:walk ratio. When I look at the finish line photos I remember the elation I felt at the sight of the clock and the realization that I had run almost the whole way.
I then coasted into summer without another race in site until October and faced up to the challenge of training on my own. No coach telling me what to do, just my own self-discipline. (If only I could apply that to housekeeping!) I worked on increasing my run to walk ratio, conquered my pacing issues on the dreadmill/treadmill and discovered the joys of solitary running. (Though on the most painfully humid Saturday mornings I missed my buddies). I trained all summer with the Army Ten Miler and 100 minutes in mind. The race holds a special place in my heart for all it represents... the alternative to Washington's other premiere fall running event, the faces of the young soldiers who call me ma'am, the monuments, and 20 years of being an Army "brat." When the five-day forecast rolled around and it looked an average August day I was forced to reevaluate the whole darn plan. (I won't deny I was a little heartsick about it). I added 5 minutes to desired finish time and focused on finishing safely. I was lucky... many that day experienced heat stroke or worse in DC and Chicago. The final stretch of the 10 miler takes you down an off-ramp and under an overpass, rather like going through the final "chute." It still gives me chills to think I stood in the relative shade of that overpass, waiting and watching for friends to finish and saw the medics rush by on a golf cart. I would later find out that a young man, who probably ran right past where I stood collapsed near the finish line. All of sudden times didn't matter so much.
I ran Philly again in November... an excellent way to burn a few calories the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I gave thanks to my pacer from Clif Bar on turkey day and headed into the blur that is the holiday season. I avoided seasonal stress by setting a mileage goal for December and exceeding it by two miles... but still I busted the goal, in part by being one of those crazy people who exercises on Christmas Day. (For the record I was not alone out there). 2008 looks ok so far but it's a story for another day.
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