My medals, and the bibs from every single race I've ever done - I'm very proud of what all of this represents, especially as a former couch-potato who was overweight for two decades!
After restarting running in January of 2012, I've now completed my goals of running, running a 5K, and running a half marathon. So what have I learned from all of this, and what is next?
What I learned: Running is harder for me now than it was back when I started in 2009. My best year of running was 2010 - I ran lots of 5K's, I improved my pace time, and I ran my first half marathon. Of course, at the time I thought I was pretty slow - hah, little did I know how much slower I COULD be - but I was also comparing myself to other running bloggers who were A) naturally thin; B) much younger than me; and C) lifelong athletes, unlike this late-bloomer. I read those blogs to get tips on running, but in retrospect, I would have been better off without the comparisons I put myself against.
So yes, running is harder now - things hurt once I hit higher mileage, like my right ankle, the top of my left foot, and weirdly, the toe next to my big toe on my left foot. Alas and alack, I think this is just the way it will be for me - and it's something that I am willing to put up with, for now, in order to run. But, I don't hurt as much when I only (only!) run 3 or 4 or 5 miles, and that is something very appealing at the moment - to run a decent distance and not end up hurting so much afterward.
I like running. I like how I feel when I run, and I like the fact that I CAN run. But I'm not going to lie - training for the half marathon(s) was tough - our schedule was very challenging, and it was hard on me both physically and mentally. I am signed up for the BCS half marathon in December (Jeff and I signed up for the entire race series when they ran a special a few months ago), and I plan on running it - but I'll do the training for that race differently than last season. And at the moment, that is the only half marathon I plan on running, unless we manage to book a trip to Maui in January, in which case, Jeff and I will run the Maui half marathon, because, hello - how can we not???
What's next: Shorter distances. A bit of exhilarating speed work. Lots of 5K races. Running more often, but less mileage overall. Less pain, hopefully. No more slogging for hours through long runs. I'm really excited about all of this - while I may not ever get back to Runner Shelley of 2010, I feel good about getting back to the fun of running.
And speaking of fun, we ran 4 miles on Saturday. Four miles straight - no 2:1 intervals. I even made it all the way up a long hill, running into a strong headwind! Amazing how I can run, and keep running, when I know that all I have to run is 4 miles vs. 8 or 10 or 13. What a welcome change!