What an incredible week it's been. Between seeing athletes, grading papers, and working with my teams, I was still able to get a decent week in running-wise; including a long run on my birthday (how better way to start year number 31 than some time on the trails?). In between all of it the notion of creating some kind of race schedule kept coming up in my mind-like the fact that it's time to start thinking about future races again.
In addition to thinking about racing, also talking about it more too, as opposed to my overly "under the radar" approach; as I've been a very quiet trainer and any races I've remotely though of doing have been basically classified with the exception of a few. In between bites of sushi at my birthday dinner, I received a subtle push during a conversation at dinner the other night that a.) got me thinking and b.) made me feel a bit silly-it's good to have other runners to keep us accountable like that. While talking about our fall and spring plans, I mentioned that I had registered for a race but was hesitant to specify when and where. After a couple funny looks around the table, one spoke up and asked "why are you always so secretive about your races?". My response "Um...good question".
Innocent enough, but it got the ever-spinning wheels in my head spinning a few revolutions faster. What to do about it? Cue a "problem solving run". Yes, I designate some easy runs for the sheer purpose of figuring things out. Therapy for this therapist, I suppose!
The following morning, I had just a timed easy run scheduled and headed off in the dark by myself along the lake and tops of utility canals (probably not the safest option, but I digress). Somewhere in the middle of a nice aerobic 5-6 miles not only did I feel surprisingly good post long-run, but got off the fence and decided to start pursuing some races again, and being open again with a lot of things I'm doing. In reality, why not be open about your plans if people ask? Yes, things are different now, I have to train differently, I may not have my speed I used to have, but dang it-I love this sport!
What I decided was to deal my past injuries, being realistic, but starting to move past as much as possible-I think after reading a lot about the subconscious lately, it appear I may have some beliefs that need to be challenged-but most importantly, my ego. This will be an ongoing process, of course, but I still believe that I have some potential left in my legs, and I'm enjoying my new training regime and am gaining some trust back in my body. Do I have a ways to go? Of course. Am I a "has been"? Absolutely not. Besides, at the end of the day, it's just running. Who cares what others think? A time on a clock or a pace on a watch doesn't define me. Every day I get to lace up is a good day. Period. If I maintain a sense of gratitude, and lessen the "under-the-radarness", I should be able to get back to business at hand. I may even throw in some variety for good measure.
So, now that I've put all this down, what are some possibilities? First, I treated myself to a "back in the game" event, the Texas Trails Endurance 20k in December. It's on a trail near the university I teach at and I'm able to access the trails for some fun and challenging hill work. I haven't raced on a trail much, but have really enjoyed trail racing in the past. So much so, I'm also eyeballing some of the Xterra Trail Series in the Spring and Summer. Soft surface, challenging courses, and distances I am successful at (typically between 20 and 25K) sound like fun. There may be a road race here and there, but there's nothing final there yet. I am confident my trail work will help increase my strength and fitness while not being a total beating on the legs.
I guess the bottom-line idea for me is that for me right now, I'm not race-ready yet, but I'm willing to give myself a fair chance and just be the athlete I am. Whatever happens, happens. That's running, folks.
Stay the course.