As the days grow longer and the evenings are warmer, I find myself craving uninterrupted family time at the end of the work day. Playing and working in the garden and yard rank top on the list of activities that are feeding my soul. Running is up there, too… but lately I have not found much motivation to run during the dinner hour. Not able or willing to take a break from my midweek runs, I am trying something new. I’ve started running on the trail during my lunch hour. It’s a quarter of a mile from the edge of campus to an opening for one of my favorite running trails. With time factored in for changing clothes and climbing up and down the steep steps from campus to the trail, I can reliably fit in a four mile run and get back in time to resume my afternoon work.
So far, I am finding this change to be very positive. I get my miles in without an impact to family time in the evenings. I also enjoy the benefits of fresh air and exercise during the middle of the work day, returning to my tasks and projects refreshed and with renewed mental sharpness. Finally, just like I have come to recognize and adore the cast of characters I encounter on my weekend long runs, I am beginning to encounter a new group of wonderful folks… the lunchtime runners. With a new option to alleviate the burden of juggling dinner with running (there are only so many hours in a day), I am feeling energized about my current training goal and excited about what I might be able to accomplish this summer through my running practice.
Yesterday, I ran a 10K race. Snohomish Women’s Run. Originally, I was going to run a half marathon, but I caught a cold last week and decided to transfer over to the 10K to be on the safe side. I am glad I did–it was a fun race, and I love the 6 mile distance. Not too short, not too long. I don’t have to fuel during the run, but I still earn that wonderful sense of exhaustion with just a tinge of soreness afterward (I love that feeling… I know, it’s peculiar).
I had a really good morning at the race. Race-day mile PR, 5K PR, and 10K PR all wrapped into one. I never could have imagined comfortably running a sub-1:00 10K, but I did it yesterday (without going all guts!). I kind of wish I had pushed just a little more; I was two minutes shy of getting third place in my age division. I had to settle for fourth. I’ll be honest… getting fourth place in my age division? That was awesome. I am not a speedy runner, and I am used to finishing comfortably in the middle wave of runners. It felt really good to find myself in the first wave of finishers. A good motivator to keep training, and validation that these speed goals are yielding improvements.
The route itself was really beautiful… right along the river and the woods for the entirety. The only thing I didn’t like was that the entire path was paved. I do love a trail! However, there were no hills, so I really can’t complain.
Training for next month’s half continues. Eight miles this weekend at a more relaxed pace… though I’d like to stick around 10 minutes/mile if I can.
My soon to be four-year-old daughter is very aware of my running practice. My first chunks of time away from her during her early months of life were to run races or go for jogs. She’s met me at finish lines, and spent nights in hotels cuddling me as I slept fitfully before races. I’ve wrangled her stroller and held her hand through crowded expos. Two years ago, when I set my sights on running a full marathon, I nursed her during my many months of training. She’s been stealing my running shoes to shuffle around the house in them since the time she started walking, and she loves to jangle my medals that are hanging on the office wall. She gives me hugs before I leave the house for a run, and she is always the first person I see when I get back.
“Mama!” she exclaims, “how was your run?”
Lately she’s been asking to run with me. She is a powerhouse of determination. When we go for hikes or walks, she charges out ahead of me, running as quickly as she can. In the backyard, she becomes Wonder Woman, zipping around speedily as she chases bad guys and ” ‘ompels them to tell the truth” with her make believe lasso (my husband is usually her target!).
My daughter reminds me that there is freedom in movement. And with that movement, comes joy. She exercises through play. Her mind is completed engaged in the imaginary of the scene she sets out to create. She does not fall victim to the pulls of technology and passivity. Her day is fully invested in exploration, adventure, and experimentation.
Children make the best teachers. I often muse that her inquiry about my run is really her instinctive chance to check in with me… as if to say, “for a small part of your day, you were almost as alive as I am. Wasn’t that incredible?”