Hello! It's been more than a minute. While I am clinging to the last bits of Summer with my super strong grip, it's really almost over. How does this happen every single year? This Summer has been fantastic - filled with adventures, fun, trips, laughter, memories, fun and love. I truly haven't had a moment to crack open the computer. I
think know that's the way it's supposed to be.
One of the things I wanted to do this Summer was to enjoy running (and swimming and biking [kinda]) for their own sakes and not really "train", but to do them because I love them and not because I am working toward a certain race or time goal. As a result, I've run a lot, I've swum a bit, and I've biked virtually not at all. And yet, there was still something tethering me to the whole "training" thing -- this guy:
|*note* this is a very old picture|
A month or so ago, I was swimming with Matt at an outdoor lap pool that we belong to. I felt great. My swim felt strong. And fast. And it felt so good to be in the water. I felt like Katie Ledecky. Or Michael Phelps. I did about 1000 yards, touched the side of the pool, hit the "stop" button on my watch and then ... boom.
In an instant, I went from this:
Sad kitten. I looked at my stats and said out loud "ugh. it is so demoralizing to see my pace." My face fell and the swim that I was just two seconds earlier thrilled with didn't seem so great anymore. Fast became slow; great became bad; happy became sad. Matt always tells me that he thinks I am a great athlete, so when he heard me say the word "demoralizing" and get down on myself, he had a little come to Jesus talk with me instantly -- and I came to realize, in talking with him, that I was comparing myself to an unrealistic version of myself. I was looking at my times now, and even though I knew, and know, that I am not in Ironman or BQ shape anymore, I was holding myself to that standard. Which is ridiculous. I didn't become the Ironman athlete that I was overnight: it took intensely hard work and dedication and time. But, yet, I still couldn't help but see the numbers and compare. My runs were slower too. Every run, I'd fire up my watch and when I finished, I'd be glad I did it, but never truly happy with the run. Matt had a suggestion that seemed almost impossible at first: ditch the watch. Stop using it. Run without it. Swim without it. Bike (hahaha if I get on the bike) without it. I wondered how I would track my runs ... but did it matter? How would I know how fast (or slow) I was going ... but did it matter? What about the data ... but did it matter? The answer, of course, is no -- it doesn't matter right now. So I decided to take the watch off and do all of my workouts without it. In a bout of serendipitous timing, my friend Heather was wanting to use a triathlon watch, so I happily loaned her mine. It made me happy to let my sweet friend use my watch: the same thing that was bringing me down made her so very happy.
I've decided to "re-moralize" myself and run completely untethered to any time or pace keeping device. To truly just run and swim and bike and not worry about how fast or slow. I am going to run the Philly Rock & Roll Half Marathon in September and will run without my watch. I'm kind of training for it (which is to say I am making sure to do a longish run each week ... and having run for so many years, I know all the different distances of routes around here, so I can be sure I am running long enough). At first, it was weird. It kind of still is. My hand instantly searches for my watch to hit that "start" button at the beginning of each run. But I've quickly developed a true love of being unplugged. Some of my runs are still struggles (summer-humidity-heat), but most of them I come away feeling happy and fulfilled. That's what it's all about for me right now.
Just yesterday I decided to run in one of my favorite places: Peace Valley Park in Chalfont. I've run there a handful of times, and I love it. It's around this beautiful lake. I was telling Matt all about it and I realized I don't have to just tell him -- I could share it with him. I didn't have to fret about my watch and my pace. I could just stop, take a picture, text it and start running again. Here are some of my favorite spots from this run.
This is where I start and end (it is a 6 mile loop). It's so lovely.
This is about 2 miles in. I love this little spot because you've been in a kind of wooded spot for awhile and then you turn a corner and see the lake again. And I know I'm almost at the bridge, which is the half way point.
The bridge! This is just shy of the half way point, but I love it because it's a fun little landmark. You know you're about halfway done the loop. In the second photo you can see the dam allllllll the way in the distance. That's the end of the loop.
Once you cross the bridge above, you have some really tough climbs. They are really steep and pretty long. But, what goes up must come down! Here I am at the point where you get to enjoy a lovely descent after some super hard inclines.
I normally love this spot in the run - it's just before a boat launch area and there's just about 1.5 miles left to go. I was hot here. I was not loving this spot in the run.
This is always a happy place: on the dam/bridge. My car is less than a half mile from this spot. It's fun to run over.
And done! I was stretching and took this last shot. I am also wearing a unicorn/rainbow headband.
The run was hot (and late in the day for me), but it was good. It was great, actually. I'm starting to settle into this remoralizing phase really nicely. It is making me a much happier runner in the present ... which is almost as beautiful a gift as running itself.