Branching out

Currently I'm trying to warm up after a fairly chilly 7.5 mile run. Luckily the temps were double digits and much of the snow is melted here from yesterday's 50 degree weather, but the wind was biting and made for a frozen, fat-feeling mouth. Today's run was a bit different; instead of heading out solo, I met about 10 strangers at a lake here in town. A few weeks ago I joined Facebook again after a year hiatus so I could try and re-connect with some old friends and find some new running chums. Omaha has a great running community, so it was easy to connect with some runners through Facebook. After swapping a few private messages, I found a group to run with this morning.

The runners were varied in paces, distances, experience, but they were all encouraging. I fell into a group with two other women who definitely pushed me today. I'm used to my own running routine where I set the pace, I dictate when I stop (typically halfway through my intended mileage for the run, I stop for about a minute to re-gather myself), I dictate the mileage. At about mile 5.4 I found myself peeking at my Garmin, wishing for a break. The other runners didn't seem bothered, so I didn't say anything and just kept running. Soon a group of three ultra-marathoners caught up to us and we chatted about local trails, races, etc. They were running 20+ miles this morning, and I immediately felt inadequate. Eventually the ultras took a different route...I was a bit thankful because the feelings of inferiority were beginning to make my legs hurt!

By mile 7 I was chasing my new running partners who, it seemed, had kicked up the pace to finish the last half mile strong. I couldn't keep up. This is the first time I haven't been able to keep up with adult runners (I definitely couldn't keep up with some of our XC runners). Immediately the mental self-assault began. When did you get so slow? Why can't I maintain steady breathing? Are my legs frozen? You should not have had that beer this week! I let them sprint out the last quarter mile while I trudged towards my car. We walked a bit to cool down, made plans again to run another time, and parted ways.

After I climbed with stiff legs in my car to drive home, I looked through my Garmin to evaluate my distance, pace, etc. A smile crept across my face. I ran an 8:33 pace for nearly 7.5 miles, non-stop. I haven't pulled that kind of pace on a long run since June. Though I couldn't maintain the pace that my running partners kept, I managed to reach a new level of fitness, I didn't take my usual half way break, and I met a few new people who weren't bothered by the snot frozen to my face (because everyone had snot frozen to their face).

Our move has been tough, but today I felt like I had a small victory. When I arrived home, I celebrated a bit and treated myself to breakfast, coffee, and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, and some computer time. I keep reminding myself that small milestones are better than no milestones...


Kristin said...

So glad to hear about this run for you! I've been praying you'll find some runners.
And just an FYI, when you visit, I won't be keeping an 8:33 pace for any length of time.

Amy said...

Congrats on your milestone...both running and branching out!