Be One With the Forest

Repeat after me: See the forest. Be one with the forest.
(By the way, I will actually be running in this location in just 44.508 days.)

I didn’t sleep well at all last night.  It was hot.  I was sticky with sweat despite the air conditioner going full blast, no covers and wearing only my sports bra and that pair of super short compression shorts I reserve for such occasions.  The old man terrier was snorting and restless (he, like me, does not like the heat).  The boy was snoring.  Loudly.  The middle aged cattle dog sounded the wake up alarm an hour before the actual alarm was due to go off.  And despite how tired I really was, I just could not get more than a few minutes asleep at a time.

Despite this, I rolled out of bed, laced up my shoes and headed out for a run.  I am going to give myself a nice little pat on the back here for going out and getting it done when I desperately wanted to get a few more minutes of sleep.

I stepped out the front door delicately chewing Cliff Shot Blocks while willing my Garmin to take as long as humanly possible to locate satellites in hopes that I might have an extra moment or two of quiet walking.  I think there was even a brief moment where I thought to myself, “You know, I could just walk this morning.  It’s no big deal.”

Uh, no.  It is most certainly a VERY big deal.  And so I kicked myself into what felt like a nice easy trot, waving hello to the legions of dog walkers, cyclists and fellow runners also attempting to escape the heat at this ungodly hour.

Enter the fastest four miles I have run in quite some time.

Even faster than yesterday.  By a lot.

I think morning runs agree with me.

Here is how it went:  I flipped the screen on my Garmin over to anything but my pace and just ran, determined to run for 45 minutes without worrying about mileage.  The more I ran, the better I felt.  Yes, I was hot.  Yes, I was still half asleep when the first mile chime when off.  But I felt good, strong and very light on my feet.  Apparently I must have been smiling because oncoming sidewalk traffic smiled back as soon as we made eye contact.  Normally we all just sort of grunt and move on.  Not today.  Today we were all smiling.

I even stopped for a moment on my last mile to take a photo of some gorgeous sunflowers for you, but my phone apparently ate said photos.  You will just have to take my word for it:  They were spectacular, beautiful and surrounded by bright flowered vines.  It was like a painting.  It even inspired me!

I didn’t look at my pace or mileage until I arrived home.  I was pleasantly surprised to see this:

So surprised I jumped on the bed and woke up the entire household screaming incoherently about a sub 12 minute mile.

Okay, for those of you fast runners I am sure you are sitting there going, “Um…that isn’t very fast but if it makes you happy, okay.”  It does make me happy.  Tremendously happy.  Here’s why:

I know I am not a fast runner.  I was never particularly fast even when I was in excellent shape and running competitively in high school.  Now I am a 30 something fit but fat chick losing a crap-load of weight doing what I love:  run.  I had been cruising along very comfortably in the low 11 minute mile range for 10-13 miles but as I started training for this whole endurance and long distance thing, I slowed up…a lot.  Part of that was the result of taking a few weeks off to recover from the Black Death (aka the sinus infection that wouldn’t quit until I was literally forced to rest and take antibiotics that are used to treat things like Anthrax.  No joke).  Part of that was struggling to find the motivation in an exceptionally busy time.  A big part of  that was targeting a very specific and sustainable pace for first 39.3 miles in three days and later a 50K.

I have done a fair amount of bitching and whining of late over this pace, despite the fact that I know that over time I will speed up again once I get the mileage and hours under my feet.  But like Veruca Salt, I sometimes get locked into the “But I want it NOW!” mentality.  Sometimes it is hard to see the forest despite the trees.

This morning, I saw the forest.  I haven’t actually lost my speed as much as I am working to develop my existing strength and endurance into something entirely new and different.  I need to get the hours and mileage under my feet, worrying less about pace and more about getting it done well.

See the forest.  Be one with the forest.