THIS is running!!!"
Have you seen that episode of Friends when Phoebe & Rachel decide to go running together? Rachel is a somewhat normal runner - though she breathes weird - and is horrified when Phoebe insists that the only way running can be fun is to go at top speed with arms flailing, like a little kid who KNOWS that she is the fastest person the universe. At the very end of the episode Rachel comes to realize that Phoebe is right and adopts this childish/joyful running style.
I'm not saying that I've been running like that, but I have had a bit of a Run-aissance in the last few weeks. (Did I just coin a phrase? Probably not, but I don't think I've ever heard it. I so amuse me!) I found a half marathon training plan that involves lots of track work. This is my first time doing real track work, like, EVER. (I ran track in jr. high and high school but we didn't actually HAVE a track so we ran around the elementary school, the baseball field, the town....) A couple of mornings a week I'm getting up at 4:30 to head to the (completely void of human life) track.
Most runners I know (or read about, really, because I don't have human contact with a ton of runners) dread these workouts. They have special pump-me-up playlists on their iPods. They have special speed workout running buddies to keep them showing up and honest. I am not saying I think I am a totally normal person, but I always thought with running, I was pretty typical of my peers.
I don't know why. Maybe it's the novelty of it. Maybe it's the promise of ZERO hills. Maybe it's the precision of my distances. I just LOVE running on the track.
Actually, I think I know what it is. It's the speed. I'm not a really fast runner. I have no idea how fast I could do a 100M or a 400M or even a 5K. All of my race distances since adulthood have been more than 5 miles. But these tracks workouts almost always call for a final push of 4 x 100M, or 2 x 200M.
I wasn't on the track today, but it is a good example of what I think I mean. I ran 4 miles at about 7:45 pace. The boys and Scott were playing on a playground and riding bikes around the basketball court. Right nearby is the only flat (non-track) place to run in, I think, 100 miles. It's a great former rail road track turned biking/walking/running route. So I ran 2 miles out and 2 miles back. Talked to Scott and the boys for a few minutes and then, as my training plan called for, did 4 x 100-ish (I had to go by feel since I wasn't on the track, naturally). There's something about those 100M "sprints" that I love. I call them "sprints"and not sprints because I'm sure I'm not going very fast. But I love the way I can totally cruise, ALMOST going as fast as I possibly can. I am in a pretty healthy place body-wise right now so I've got no weird pains. My form feels awesome. It's totally lame but I honestly feel like a model runner when I'm doing this. (Model, in this case, NOT meaning a gorgeous chick in insanely high heels, obviously).
I have no idea if I have good form. I have no idea if I am fast. I have no idea if these workouts are going to bring me to a half marathon PR.
I do know that I wear a teeny invisible badge of honor every day after I've done the 4:30 drive to the track. I do know that I feel like the fastest kid in my gym class on the track... (probably because I am alone and there's no one there showing me up!) I do know that this Phoebe agrees with Fictional Phoebe and think to myself every time I get my speed on....
"THIS IS RUNNING!!!"