Last week at this time I was experiencing a severe case of the post-race blues. The excitement of Gansett was fading, my running was going horribly, my legs still felt achy and sore, I was incredibly unmotivated, and couldn't seem to shake any of it.
Then I ran a really fun 5K, discovered that my legs in fact had not forgotten how to run fast, remembered how much fun running is, and found myself finally shaking off the negativity.
And this week has been more of the same.
I was back in the pool again, and swam 2,000m in 50 minutes. I'm still a painfully slow swimmer, but that distance in that amount of time is actually pretty good for me, so it made me happy, and made me feel much better about my upcoming triathlon. (Still debating whether or not I want to look into getting some swim coaching this year. I think I could have a shot at an age-group award in the tri if I could improve my swim time, but I don't know if it means that much to me, or if I should just do my best with what I've got and enjoy the race. Will ponder that some more....)
And yesterday, I had one of the best runs (aside from the 5K) that I've had in weeks. I started at an 8:40 pace, and it felt too easy, so I went down to 8:30, and that still felt easy. I finally settled right around an 8-minute pace, and it felt nearly effortless. FINALLY!!!!
It's more than just the great workouts, though. I think one of the things that's helped my mood so tremendously this week is that it finally occurred to me that I have no HUGE races looming.
I have plenty of goals for the summer and early fall, and some of them are pretty lofty (e.g., sub-21-minute 5K - I get kind of nauseous just thinking about running that fast for 3.1 miles, but I know if I start back up with speedwork, I can get there), but none of my goals are going to require me to obsessively pore over training plans, or go on 3-hour training runs every weekend, or spend 4 months of my life thinking about THE RACE.
Because really, my journey to Gansett began just about a year ago, when I ran the Cox Rhode Races half marathon (which I'll be running again this weekend). I was using that race as a test last year, to see if I felt I was at a point where qualifying for Gansett and/or Boston was a realistic goal.
As it turns out, it was. So I immediately started the process of figuring out how I was going to actually accomplish that goal, then spent the next 4 months doing the work, and stressing about it the entire time.
Then when I knew I had qualified in Hartford and I was going to run Gansett, the process began all over again.
And I started out saying that I was not going to put too much pressure on myself to PR at Gansett, and that I just wanted to enjoy the experience, but before I knew it, I was consulting pace charts and track workouts and gearing up for another quarter of a year with a big event on the horizon.
Don't get me wrong - I really do enjoy the whole process of training for and preparing for a big race. I'm a planner by nature, and there's something very satisfying about seeing all those workouts laid out in black and white, and checking each one off as you complete it. And the anticipation can be really stressful, but it's also amazingly exciting, knowing you're working up to this huge goal, and knowing how awesome it's going to feel when you finally complete it.
But doing it two times in a row, with very little time off in between, proved to be a bit much. Spending nearly an entire year either thinking about or training for a hugely important race was really draining. I'm proud of getting through it, but I don't care to do it again any time soon.
Which is why I find myself feeling like an enormous weight has been lifted off my shoulders - because it has been! And as a result, my heart and my legs feel so much lighter : )
I'm looking forward to focusing on smaller goals this summer, and shorter races, and more fun running. And more biking. And more swimming. And more time spent with my family (although I know there will be mornings where I'm refereeing fights for hours on end, and wishing I had a 20-miler on my training schedule).
And by the time the summer ends, I predict that I'll be cracking open my running books again, peeking at marathon training plans, and getting ready to get my registration in for Boston.
This will be like my own little summer vacation, and I'm going to thoroughly enjoy it - and when it's over, I know I'll be ready to get back to work!