Just a slight height difference...
I don't normally run with Andi on Saturdays, simply because there is a foot difference in our height and her stride is so much longer than mine that I have to jog to keep up with her just when she's walking intently, much less running. However, both Diane and Cary were out of town last Saturday, and while I'm fine with running solo, I really wanted to run on our new road - but it's really dark and isolated, so I begged Andi to run with me. She agreed, and even said she would try and slow down, which I know is challenging...I've run with slower people and you really have to work at not running at your natural pace.
We set off doing my regular intervals, and even though she slowed down, I was having to push it a little to keep up. Of course, I was also trying to have a conversation with her while we ran, but soon had to give that up as it became apparent that I could either run faster, or talk, but I couldn't do both. The run was good - the weather was ideal, with a feels like temperature of 48 degrees - and it was fun to challenge myself in a different way; running 4 miles was the perfect distance for this.
We ended up finishing this run three minutes faster than the last time I ran 4 miles, which was two weeks ago. I've heard that it's good to occasionally run with someone who is faster than you, and I can see why - I pushed myself more than I have been in quite a while, and to paraphrase our Renegade Run Club motto, I didn't die (original motto was "but did you die?" and current motto is "not dying since 2015"). I didn't set out to do speedwork for this run, but that's what ended up happening. I think I'll have to do this again in another few weeks, just to mix things up. It's funny - I have avoided speedwork for a long time, but getting to do it, even unintentionally, ended up being a good thing.
After the run, you know the drill. Blue Baker, treats, coffee, chatter. We got our usual table once more so all was right with the world.
Over the next few months, I will be running several races but the farthest distance will be a 10K. Because of this, I don't feel like I have to, well, coddle myself when it comes to running. It sounds odd, but bear with me - after injuring my ankle and losing an entire year of running to that injury, plus having to start again from zero, I've always had a fear of overdoing it and having that same thing happen again. It didn't help when I hurt my hamstring a couple years later; that was just more proof to me that I needed to be gentle with my training.
But now, I'm good. My goal race, the Aramco Houston half marathon, is done; there's no training to be worried about, no "if I don't keep building on this, I'm going to be a hurting fool come race day" - I can run, I can push it, I can take a day off from running if I'm feeling sore. If a friend wants to run two days in a row, then I can do that. If a friend wants to run farther than we normally do, I can do that, too. I'm going with the flow, and it feels very liberating to just run.