Friday, March 22, 2013

happy birthday to me!

I am a few days late, but have had a busy few days. Usually, I use my "birthday post" to write a letter to myself. Actually, I usually journal a letter to myself every year on my birthday (I have done that since I was sixteen). It is almost in lieu of new year resolutions. That day separated every year by a whole 365 days allows me a chance to think about my life a little broader than the day-to-day.

This year, however, I forgot to do that (on my actual birthday, that is). I will do it some time this week, but the day itself played out a little differently. Instead of waking up to cupcakes, I woke up to a high-protein breakfast that included eggs, bacon, and broccoli. Yes, broccoli for breakfast (I figured as the day progressed I'd find reasons to exclude eating anything green so I might as well fit it in). I then tied on my new pair of running shoes and deliberated where I should go. Did I want to drive to the battlefield (a twenty minute drive) where I knew I would run a longer distance or just stay in Cumberland City where I don't like the view as much (but it is closer). As I was mentally warming up what my route should look like, it dawned on me:

Crosses Creek National Wildlife Refuge opened last week!!! Woo hoo!!!

Oh, gravel trails that run along the Cumberland River, how I have missed you! What an excellent birthday present!

Even better than finding an awesome birthday present was finding my running "zone." About two miles into the run, I hit this bizarre zen-like mental state in which my body moved comfortably and my breathing felt perfect and I sensed my form was good and and I was in a zone. The temperature was my favorite (55 degrees) and the sun smiled down on the trail. A few times I had to leap over mini-streams and muddy spots that crossed the road. The day was perfect, the run was perfect.

It was probably the broccoli that empowered me. More broccoli for breakfast.

I talk about enjoying running a lot on here, but I definitely don't always love every minute of it. I often have to force myself out the door and convince myself "just a little bit more" when I get tired. It isn't always easy and the days aren't always sunny. But thirty difficult runs make up for the one "perfect run." And now that my favorite course has re-opened, I sense I will have more days of better running. Or at least a more positive outlook when I start my runs.

For one birthday reflection-slash-present-to-myself, I decided that I want to train for a full marathon. Not only that, but I want to run those 26.2 miles at a Boston marathon-qualifying pace (right now, this year for my age group that time is completion in 3 hours and 35 minutes... that's 8-minute miles). And I want to do that by the time I turn thirty. Good news! Over the past few months I have been thinking I already turned 28 and would be turning 29 this year (because something short-circuited in my brain, evidently). It turns out I actually just turned 28 and will have a solid two years to train and run and meet that goal so when I write my "happy birthday to me" letter on my 30th birthday, I will be able to include a pretty solid accomplishment in my letter.

And now you know. And can even help keep me accountable.

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