When I lost my job in March, I knew above all else that I needed to start running again. Not only did I need to get my arms around my cardiovascular fitness after 8 straight years of being glued to a screen, I needed to get some time to reflect on my priorities now that I wasn’t staring into the gaping maw of the Internet.
But if you’re friends with me or have sporadically read this blog, you know my track record. I hadn’t successfully completed a training cycle since 2009! I have so many shirts and so few finishes to show for it. How could I break that pattern and not suffer another demoralizing injury?
Well, for the first time ever, I listened to my body. I stuck to the plan I outlined here. I let myself rest. I didn’t obsess over splits. I laughed at the idea of speed work. What I needed was time on my feet, which translated into the time to reflect and time to rebuild my spirit. And even though I broke a cardinal rule and signed up for a race, I never once thought about a hard and fast time as a goal. I set my sights on just finishing. And it worked!
After a challenging month of travel and temperatures in August that knocked me off my usual training regimen, I toed the line at Run Woodstock worried that maybe I’d somehow undertrained after months of 50+ mile weeks. That was silly.
The race was an amazing experience. I ran a solid first loop that started in the pre-dawn hours and ended with me discovering that I’d worn mismatched shoes! I met my pacer and she guided me through a challenging second loop on very tired legs and an increasingly fuzzy mind.
The finish felt triumphant as I sprinted to the line. I finished just out of the top five in my age group and in the top 25% overall. But after breaking my leg in 2016, just being able to compete and finish is all I needed.
None of this would have happened without the fantastic community of runners supporting me, both locally and online. The Grosse Pointe Runners group has been invaluable. My friends Britt and Jesse back in Philly have been great coaches, reassuring me that I’d put in the work. Lastly, the ultrarunning community online, ranging from elite athletes overcoming their own personal challenges to the runners documenting the scene, especially Ginger Runner.
After a decade of false starts it feels great to be back, but it feels even better to be in control, making decisions that are making my life better in ways I’d hardly imagined. Getting to the start healthy was one goal; getting to the finish healthy opens the door to adventure.