1.) Long distances are easier for me than short distances. I know some of you will think I'm crazy, but it's true. The worst part of any run for me is really the first 2 miles. During those first couple of miles my body is protesting, my brain is buzzing and I just want to quit. My head hurts, my knees hurt, my body feels heavy, I have to pee, my nose is running, my toes are cold, etc, etc, etc. But it seems like if I can tough it out for a couple of miles (or sometimes even a little less) then my brain shuts down and my body goes on autopilot and just does what it's supposed to. What this means is that in a short race like a 5K, I'm usually getting into my groove just about the time I cross the finish line. This race was no different, I fought myself for the first while, but then by the last little bit, felt amazing. After this discovery (which really isn't a discovery, I think I've known this about myself for a long time now) I had a second epiphany.
2.) There's no shame in choosing to run a half marathon, instead of a full marathon. After I did the marathon last August I had all of these lofty goals of all the dozens of marathons I was going to start running. And the truth is, I probably will run more marathons, but honestly I prefer the half marathon distance. Truth be told 13.1 miles is probably my perfect race distance. It's a challenge, but it doesn't leave me completely wiped out, like the marathon did. Any time I've run a half (except for Myrtle Beach last year when I jacked my knee), I've been able to go on with the rest of my day and feel great, if a little stiff and sore. After the marathon I was exhausted for days and so sore I could barely move. It took me literally weeks to recover. But yet, I felt that because I'd now completed one marathon, that there was somehow pressure or expectation that I should do more marathons. And I definitely want to do more, but I think I'll limit it to just a couple of marathons per year and stick with half marathons the rest of the time. That's still respectable.
Anyway, that said, here are the photos from the other night.
Yes, I look tired. This was about 11:15pm, getting ready for my start time.
They stagger the start times for this race, so I was the only person on the line at that particular time getting ready to begin. It was 2 degrees above 0, with very little wind so it was a good night for a race, once you got moving. (Of course I was wearing several layers of clothing, so I probably wouldn't have felt much of the cold anyway. Boy I can't wait until Florida next week when I don't have to wear half my wardrobe to go out for a run.) Even though we run in town, there are portions of the trail that seem quiet and very peaceful. And since it's not a huge race, there were sections when I felt totally alone on the trail. There was even one point when I took out my earphones and just ran alone in the dark, listening to the river running below me, my feet crunching through the snow and my own breathing. It was kind of cool to be honest.
I don't think I was quite as fast as last year, although I haven't checked my official time yet. I wasn't too worried about it, I was mostly just trying to maintain a comfortable pace. Bearing in mind that it was also about 25 degrees colder this year, so my lungs were pretty much burning the whole time, I don't think I did too badly. But at any rate it seems like such a good way to kick off the New Year to do something healthy and a little crazy all at the same time.