Four years. I was a runner for four years before I ran a single race. I didn't know any better. Initially I ran to try to lose weight, but then it became an important part of who I was and what I did. I didn't know much about it -- I had a couple official running "outfits" that made me feel good, I bought a pair of "real" running shoes, but otherwise, it was just me, London's canals, a loop of Victoria park before work and on the weekends pushing it a bit farther. I was a really happy runner, obsessive and yes, competitive with the other people out running my loop in the morning, but there were no watches involved. No splits. No races.
Earlier this year I found myself fearing I had become everything that I worried I'd be after having a baby -- fat, slow, out of shape, no time to train. It's no joke. It is really hard to work full time, train, and be a good wife and mom. I have never been more impressed by the moms who make it all happen. Me? Well, I discovered a small truth I've always known deep down: any potential I had as an athlete is not natural talent, it was the result of a lot of hard work. And without the time to put in that hard work, well, the speed went away.
After a year of making myself miserable by looking at my watch splits and comparing them to what they used to be, I realized I needed a new relationship with running. Or, maybe my old relationship. I've tried to take the pressure off. No "A" races -- no races, period. Now, I meet a neighbor and we run three times a week before dawn. I'm not sure how fast we go, I'm not sure how far we go; I know that we meet at 6, and I need to be showered by 7, so I aim for at least 40 and not much more than 45 minutes. I'm using every ounce of discipline I have not to map it, not to track splits. To find the happy runner I was when I had no idea of such things.
But of course I couldn't resist the Get to the Point 5k. This isn't a race report -- I'm not reporting races. Although there was a bit of cruel irony that there was some kind of chip entry typo, and my time was recorded with the same time as the #3 woman -- just a bit sub-20 -- a time that would have once been a reasonable longshot goal. Not now. Not even close.
Now, I'm happy that I got to watch Seb run his first race. That I got to run around my old neighborhood, and then have a crazy, delicious hot dog and beer.
Today back to the plan. I met my neighbor this morning and we ran a bunch of laps around our local park, and that we talked about halloween costumes and birthday parties. I'm trying really hard not to think about my time at the 5k, turn it into a pace, figure out how far off it was previous years.
And so I go back into blog hibernation.