I knew there was a reason I bought a Koala Clip with Shalane Flanagan’s iconic quote—my first response to Nick after today’s workout was “what the fuck!!!”
In the unreasonable heat, I told myself to just give it a go today. I ended up cruising in a 3 x 8 minutes workout: 7:35, 7:33, 7:24 with 3 minutes easy running between each. I did walk a bit of each recovery rep to bring my heart rate down in the heat, but still. A year ago I was only allowed to walk. Seeing how consistent, careful mileage building pays off has been a real joy.
I struggled to run these paces in good weather before the Cambridge half. I should say something about that half marathon, shouldn’t I? I raced a half marathon in May. About two months ago at this point. I PRed, unofficially by 3 minutes, officially by 2 minutes. The course was .15 miles long for everyone I talked to—unofficial or official, I ran a strong race at a 7:59 per mile pace. Consistent splits and positive self talk are two things I am so pleased I maintained during the race.
However, I do not recommend crying while racing. Around mile 8, I started thinking about where I was a year ago. Desperate for another surgery. Struggling to sleep because of all-encompassing pain. Bleeding through at least 40 tampons a menstrual cycle (I recently learned 8 tampons is “normal”). Always planning an escape plan for unplanned bleeding or pain. Yet here I was, flying through a half marathon. I hyperventilated for a bit, but there were still 40 minutes of running to go. Taylor Swift’s “22” started playing and I pulled it together. Show me someone that doesn’t smile when that bouncy chord opening starts.
More than the time, I am SO HAPPY to have experienced the social aspect of a race again. The chats before, commiserating during, the exhausted but thrilled recaps together after. Saying to each other things like “looking strong” or “we got this” or “I’ve been pacing you”. Overall, the race was a delight. I even threw myself into a group that was from Baltimore and chatted for a bit after the race. It took everything to not say “could we be best friends?” after the year without races.
As Jessica Pan wrote in her book, Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come, “Why can’t confidence and optimism come with a lifetime guarantee?” I would pay for that that. She recommends walking into a room like a tall American man. Are men ever rattled? I’d like every day to feel like this morning, or to feel like the thrill of new friendships budding. Those are moments I feel like I’ve discovered something about existence.
I took more of Pan’s energy into the Baltimore 10-Miler. Dare I say I enjoyed the 900 feet of elevation more than the flat race? What’s this? The scenery changed, no—the scenery rolled in Baltimore County country. Seeing the landscape helped me understand the area a bit more. The greens and blues crackled in the morning light. As the second race of the year, I also felt less emotionally overwhelmed. I’ll probably hop in a few more races throughout the summer while preparing for the Wineglass Half Marathon.
Books I’m thinking about/recently read:
- Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: An Introvert’s Year of Living Dangerously by Jessica Pan
- Chesapeake Requiem by Earl Swift
- Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.