By the time you read this, it will be a new year. I hope yours has been pleasant so far. Mine kicked off with a long, sleepy drive back home after a wonderful few days in the mountains. I’m not quite back on my game yet so bear with me.
I’m largely indifferent about New Year’s Eve and the celebration thereof. I don’t really drink anymore — the White Russian I quaffed on Christmas is the more booze than I’d had the previous six months — and I can’t stay awake much past 10 p.m. My first thought most New Year's Eves is “Thank the heavens I’m not in Times Square.”
You know you want to party with me. And by “party,” of course, I mean “sit around and drink fancy coffee and turn in at a reasonable hour.”
I’ve been running a bit during the weeks since we last “spoke” but nothing to really get excited about. Just end-of-the-year-no-real-goal maintenance runs to keep the grumpies at bay. With one exception, they’ve all been perfectly fine.
The one exception was a Thursday morning run two weeks ago that was awful in nearly every way a run can be awful. My body didn’t feel like mine. My clothes irritated me. My belly was unhappy. But I ran anyway. While I want to say I felt some kind of great satisfaction at having pushed through, I didn’t. I was really just glad I was back at my house (and my bathroom) where it was warm and there was no more running.
We’ve also fully transitioned into the time when outdoor runs are simply fraught with peril and I’m spending more time on my college’s indoor track. It’s not ideal but I can endure it if it means I don’t fall on my arse because some slackers don’t shovel their sidewalks.
Yes, I own and use Yaktraks. But those work best when everything is snowy. In our neighborhood, however, some patches of sidewalks never do get shoveled and simply become icy sheets. Running in the plowed road is a bad idea because the piled-up snow makes the streets extra narrow, which means the cars are even closer. Which is a long way around to tell you what I’ve already told you: the indoor track is the best of the unpleasant options most days.
Not only is this the time of treacherous footing, it’s also the time of year when a young (I know. Let me have this.) mother runner’s mind turns to goals for the next year.
I’ve already committed to two big races for 2015: the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May and the Wineglass Half in October. My standard running goal is to make it to the starting lines of each in good enough shape to make it to the finish line.
Something happened in November 2014 to make me rethink my standard running goal. My Philly Half experience of pacing Kelly for the first half of her full made me realize that it’s OK to set the challenge bar up another notch. I know. I’m not sure who I am anymore either.
No, I’m not running a marathon in 2015. It’s not lack of desire but a deficit of training time. There may be a year in the future when it will work out. This is not that year.
I would, however, like see how fast I can get this body to go before another year passes. My say-it-out-loud goal for Pittsburgh is to see how close to 2:15 I can get. I ran my last half in 2:30 so that seems within the realm of possibility.
Or I could be completely delusional. I’m good with that, too, if only because my delusions keep me entertained.
As helpful as the AMR Race It plan was for my 2:30 finish, my brain still had to process that training details, like how fast and when and where, that I’m not even a little bit qualified to figure out. A recent mother runner podcast made me realize how useful a coach could be. So I found one — and as it happens, said coach Sara (yes, another Sara) is about to become a new mother runner herself.
Sara, who will need a good nickname, has already loaded the first few workouts I need to do. My relief at not having to think about them is nearly a tangible thing. As is my fear of the first one, which is a standard heart rate test that “I should feel like I’m going to die” by the last couple of minutes of.
Remind me again how this is a good idea? Rest assured that I’ll be blogging this journey, too, if on an every-other-week schedule for the first few months of the year. Misery does indeed love company.
As for my other goals, I intend to rest on rest days like a mighty thing that rests. I’m also going to recharge at a certain retreat in April, which should fall just before my pre-Pittsburgh taper. I suspect I’ll be looking for some company on a long run or two, even if I have to go to Arkansas to find it.
This year, too, I want to find a way to give back — but I’m not sure yet what that will look like. I have a box o’ gear to send on to Heart Strides but can totally do more. So, mother runners, how do you give back to the running community?
Above all else, I will enter every race intending to earn my chicken, which has become my race mantra. What does it mean to earn your chicken? Pay for your post-race bagel, chocolate milk, soft pretzel, or, yes, chicken lunch by pouring all you have into each step.
Even if that’s all I manage in 2015, it will still be a fulfilling year.