Sunday morning dawned early with a soft knock at my front door. It was six a.m. and my good friend was there to go on my longest and last training run for the Hershey Half-Marathon. Ten miles stretched out before us in all manner of hills, paths, gravel roads and winding streets. The air had a slight chill to it, the stars still visible and our way was illuminated by only a street lamp or passing car.
My training for the Hershey Half has been different from my last half marathon. I haven’t logged the miles and hours to train like I initially did for my May race. I’ve felt more confident and relaxed this time around knowing that I’ve done it before. I’ve stuck to the Hal Higdon novice half-marathon training program as best I could and when I couldn’t I didn’t sweat it so much. My knee no longer hurts when I run and my legs and core are stronger after months of Metabolic Effect classes. Bonus- I’m down a size too!
I’m not used to running with a partner or in the dark but it is motivating in an entirely different way than when I’m going solo. Starting out at a good pace, warming up against the cool air and running all the freakin’ hills that seem to plague my ten-mile route. I tell myself each time I run this way that it is good practice for the Hershey Half with its Pennsylvania hills. Still it sucks something awful when you just do one hill after another and another and another. Up one, run straight for a while, up another peevishly long hill, lungs fighting for air, legs burning and barely able to gasp out your weekend plans to your partner. You hit another straight street only to encounter another hill. Did we move to San Francisco or something? Where in God’s name is the downhill portion of this run?! Oh right, there isn’t one. Just spider webs on wooded paths to run through and more …. hills. Eight miles in I was really feeling it and so was my friend. We were slowing down, our pace was off and we were walking a bit more than I would have liked in the past.
Yet, this time around, I don’t care. I changed my stride style on my last two long training runs and had better run times because of it. It didn’t matter that I walked more than usual on those runs either. I was still getting PR’s. While my pace and stride were a bit off and I walked less this time I didn’t care. I think we can all admit that there is a journey that is both physical and mental when you train for a run of any kind. It doesn’t matter if it is your first 5k race or your 14th marathon. Each training is different from your last. Your life has moved into different ventures and schedules and so have you. For me, the Hershey Half-Marathon training has been all about not getting so wound up and stressed out about my performance. It’s about the joy I get from a long run and how joy can be found in hills, scenery and even the sheer slog that happens somewhere in the middle of almost every run no matter the length.
*Featured image courtesy of jordanhanlon.com