Lately I have been running just to run. I am not training for an upcoming event. I am not trying to lose weight (okay, maybe I am always trying to maintain weight thanks to my baked goods addiction). I ran 8 miles today. I just thought it seemed like a good distance to run. It wasn’t a planned “long run” day. Actually, I am even surprised I made it that far because by the time I was done with work I didn’t appear to have any energy left. The thought of going home and crawling into bed sounded like a very good idea. Even though I woke up at 4:30 am and was tired of staring at the computer for 5 hours straight, I still made the decision to run. I could have very well opted for a coffee and bagel instead, but I figured that I needed to earn that. It seems to taste better when I earn it.
I managed to change into my running clothes and step outside. The weather was perfect. It was the ideal running temperature and there was not a cloud in the sky. I told myself that I could just start running and decide how far I would go even though I was planning on the 8 miles. The luxury of running by yourself is that you can always change your plans or your pace. There isn’t so much pressure to go hard.
The first mile seemed endless. I started to think that maybe I was too tired to run 8 miles. Those are the negative thoughts that should never enter the mind. I waved off the thought and kept running. I ran to the other side of the city along the creek, under bridges and past sketchy homeless folks pushing overflowing shopping carts. This trail has become one of my favorite runs because the greatest elevation change is about 50 feet. I can just do a nice and easy run without having to compete with the hills of my neighborhood.
Once I arrived at the 4-mile mark I knew there was no turning back. Well, actually, I did have to turn back. It was another 4 miles back. I would have to finish 8 miles no matter how I felt… and I did just that. Of course the run wouldn’t be complete without the coffee and bagel to top it off.
The lack of pressure is kind of nice. I can just run when I want to and however far I would like to go. But, it won’t last long. I need a new challenge to set my sights on. I was thinking about a Half Ironman next summer and I might as well throw in a marathon while I am at it. It won’t be easy, but isn’t that the point?