It has been difficult to motivate myself to run alone lately, probably because 3 of my weekly runs during the winter have been with the Inwood Hill Runners and I've done very few solo since the fall. Over the last 2 months however, I've spent nearly every weekend with my family down in NJ because my grandparents were in the hospital which meant I had to run alone on the days I would normally run long with the group. Sadly, last week my grandmother passed away and I spent four days here in NJ and only managed a few miles here and there and one swim at the Y. It was so hard to get motivated to get up early and get outside alone. I did manage a quick run in the nice weather when we returned to NYC last weekend and I felt great afterwards and that made me a bit sad that I hadn't pushed myself to get out for more miles over the weekend. In times of stress and sadness, running is something I can turn to for solace.
This weekend I didn't make the same mistake of sleeping too late and only leaving myself time for 3 miles. The funeral was yesterday and I knew I needed a good run in the morning to clear my head and to try to stay relaxed. I headed out on a very familiar loop that starts and ends at my mom's house in sunny but cool weather at a moderate pace. When I hit a mile, I glanced at my Garmin and was disappointed to see 9:21 because I felt like I'd been moving at my "average speed" which is normally around 8:30, but I told myself that I needed to relax and loosen up. I quickly settled into a rhythm and hit a nice 8:35 2nd mile before beginning to pick things up a bit. I was progressing nicely and felt good, strong even. I reeled in an 8:14 at hardly any effort and was happy that the low 8's felt normal. I got thinking about the Coogan's 5K coming up in 3 weeks after my vacation and I worried myself thinking about whether or not the mid 6's were in reach for me for that race. I clocked an 8:04 for mile 4 and was content with the thought that for now, I was pushing a bit and could hit 8. I told myself then that the last mile and a half should be speedy with a really solid effort on the last 0.5mi. Mile 5 came in at 7:47 with only a 1 beat increase in my HR, cool. I pushed the last 0.5 mi in at a 7:16 pace and felt like I was moving fast but not sprinting. I was really happy with that run, I needed to know that I still had some longer distance speed in me after doing weekly speed sessions with shorter distance sprints. 5.56 miles in 46:01.
I thought a lot about my Nan on that run too, I ran past the funeral home we'd be going to later in the day, past my grandparent's development where much of my family was gathered, including my grandfather who is lost without her. Let's face it though, most of us are also lost without her. It was a really, really hard day yesterday and I'm extra grateful for running on days like that because it helps me sort things out and have some alone time inside my own head, even if my thoughts are sad and painful. Running is like a best friend when you need her most, always ready with open arms.
Rest in Peace Nan, I'll carry you with me on all of the roads that lie ahead.