Running used to be a shiny, new and exciting adventure. Each run seemed to feel like a milestone achieved and usually brought about a new life lesson.
It’s different now, but not in a bad way.
Running has become my reliable old friend. Sometimes we drift apart, but it’s always there for me when I decide to come back, and eventually it feels like we never took a break from each other at all.
And like any great relationship, I try not to take it too seriously.
On Sunday I completed my third half-marathon. I decided to return to running at the end of the spring this year to prove to myself that I still had some fight left in me. In the beginning it was fairly awful. I was out of shape after a winter of zero exercise. I set my sights loosely on a half-marathon in order to stay motivated.
Things were different these past four months than during my past half-marathon training cycles. I ran a lot less intensely than ever before. I rarely pushed myself. I absolutely knew I was not aiming for a personal best. And something funny happened — I looked forward to my runs instead of dreading them. I wasn’t nervous in the days leading up to it and woke up on race day feeling excited.
By the time I crossed the finish line on Sunday, I had gotten what I wanted out of the experience: a vote of confidence for myself and proof that I could still do hard things.
Heading down to the race area for our 8:30 AM, it was definitely colder out than it had been for months. I chose to wear a blanket until the gun went off. I also layered a shirt I found at Value Village over a tank top in case I wanted to throw it off. In the end I kept it on the whole way because I liked the shirt and wanted to keep it!
On my very first step, I felt a shooting pain in my left IT band. My heart sank. The only serious pain I’ve had in the past four months was some nerve/back pain that resolved itself in August.
If it was a training run, I would have stopped to stretch it out, but I decided to keep going. The pain never really let up, but I did stop thinking about it at times. As usual, I had to focus on mental strength to get me through the race. I really had to push myself and stay positive.
Our route was beautiful with fantastic views of the river. We got to see the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick’s house, the old train bridge, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and the University of New Brunswick’s red-brick campus.
I don’t usually get to run races with people because I’m at the back of the pack, but even though I finished 201st out of 208, there were consistently a few people around me for the whole race. I was running with one woman for a little while and at one point she turned to give me a high five. Runners, especially back-of-the-packers, are the best.
My dad met me close to the finish line to run me in. That’s a regular occurrence, but this time I burst into tears. Honestly, I was hurting a lot. My IT band was screaming and my legs had been burning for quite a long while at that point. But I tried to get myself together and took off for the finish.
I was cheered on and called “Molls” by the announcer when getting close to the end. My Mom was right there and so was my husband. Hometown races are awesome.
Knowing my fitness level going into this race I thought I would be ecstatic with a 2:30 finishing time (unthinkable, I know, for all you fast runners). I forgot to look at the clock at the end but when I looked up my time later it was 2:22:01. We found out the course had been about 400 metres short but I still came in under my goal.
Now it’s time to say goodbye to my old friend running for a while, and to say hi to my buddies swimming and yoga.