Thanksgiving last year fell on my birthday. As with most birthdays, I asked for very little. I didn’t want a party or a lot of hoopla. No gifts were necessary and as little fanfare as possible was greatly appreciated. I’m not a fan the attention and having my birthday land on a day when I know I’ll see a lot of people makes me queasy. I just want to be left to celebrate quietly and with the ones I love.
The one thing I did ask for was a morning to myself. The Brea Runners were meeting up before all the feasting began to enjoy a quiet run along a trail in my city. I slipped into my running shoes, taped up my heel, and headed out for a run without knowing that it would lead to my return to racing.
I didn’t plan to run the whole way, just wanted to do a quick jaunt out 2 miles and back 2 miles using a walk/run interval. I remember it being chilly and a promise of coffee and hot chocolate at the finish pushed me through the way too early hour and the brisk air that Thanksgiving morning. I remember getting frustrated, reminiscing about the bygone days of being able to run full out without pain. I remember fear and worry that I would get injured again and that I was doing too much too soon.
I finished, happy to have made it back to my car in one piece, and promised to myself to start making it back to running with the group more regularly. Then I headed home for a shower.
That was six months ago. Six months ago I did 4.1 miles on that trail in 58:33. It was slow going with an average pace of 14 minutes but I finished it. And I knew that, with that run completed, I could continue to slowly rebuild my base and gain back my strength.
That was six months ago. And Tuesday night I got the chance to revisit that ol’ trail and set a new benchmark for myself.
The stats are pretty clear. I ran a mile further with an average pace that was 2 minutes faster and it only took me 4 more minutes even with that added mile. My speed has increased, my endurance has improved, and I have the stats to prove it!
To say I’m proud of my accomplishments and my progress would be an understatement. This was a huge moment. In this moment I realized that my hard work was paying off and that I was getting strong, faster, and better even if I couldn’t always see it. Even if a run felt bad or it seemed like my progress was stalling, I have proof that I’m better than I was six months ago. And in another six months, I’ll be even better as long as I keep pushing myself to always go further and get there faster.