Have you ever had one of "those runs," the one where everything clicks and you feel amazing, like you could run forever at a blazing pace without a care in the world?
That's what my run this afternoon was like. I decided last night to grab an extra luxurious hour or so of sleep and instead of getting up at 5:30 to do my 8-mile run today I would hold off until the afternoon, when the temperature was predicted to rise all the way to a balmy 39 degrees. When I got up this morning it was 10 degrees and I knew I had made the right call.
5:15 pm rolled around and it was the forecast 40 degrees, a welcome change from my run Tuesday morning at 7 degrees. I put on my If You Look Good You Feel Good outfit, strapped Garmy to my wrist, jacked up Animal Collective in my ears and headed out the door.
I didn't think of this run as anything special until I was closing in on the one-mile mark, snuck a quick peek at Garmy, and saw to my surprise I was running at an 8:20 pace. OK, well, I thought, let's go with this as long as it lasts. Knee/IT band assessment: no problems whatsoever. Not even the slightest twinge.
Mile 1: 8:21.
I was heading west out of town on a road which offered several options for routes. I chose to follow the path of least resistance, a road which paralleled the railroad tracks, because it was very flat with only a couple of small inclines. I sensed I had a good thing going and I didn't want any hills to ruin my running mojo. Or I should say Mojo, with a capital "M," because this was a capital-letter kind of Run.
Mile 2: 8:15; Mile 3: 8:28; Mile 4: 8:22.
I reached my turnaround point (I was doing an out-and-back route) and let my legs fly freely down the gentle slope I had just ascended. I felt absolutely fantastic. I had not felt this good on a run in months, maybe since some time last summer. My legs reaching, my arms pistoning, my breath deep and steady, posture upright, hips solidly underneath me, shoulders back, chest lifted high, chin up, all elements working in perfect harmony, my body become machine. I let the feeling surge through me and just rode the wave.
Mile 5: 8:11; Mile 6: 8:05
I rejoined the paved road shortly after mile 6 and decided I was going to push myself, move out of my comfort zone, to see what I was capable of. I made the supreme sacrifice of not looking at Garmy; I wanted to run on pure feeling. I quickened my pace. My breathing accelerated with me but I did not break and start panting (my indication that I have reached my lactate threshold). I certainly felt like I was working hard, but I was not exhausting myself. I still felt strong and powerful. I swung through the 90-degree turn over the railroad tracks at the city limits, and, knowing I only had about 3/4 of a mile to go on a totally flat road, turned it up a notch. Now I was really pushing it. Yet, my stride remained steady, my posture firm, my breathing rapid but not uncontrolled. I heard Garmy beep; I had hit 8 miles. I did not stop. I had an extra incentive to get home as fast as possible: my GI issue was rearing its ugly head. I finally stopped Garmy at the foot of my driveway: 8.05 miles. 1 hour and 5 minutes. I knew that was the fastest I had ever run 8 miles.
Mile 7: 7:57; Mile 8: 7:42.
8.05 miles, 1:05:46, 8:10/mile average.
Wow. Just, wow. This was one of the best runs I have ever had, race or training. I can't believe the difference between today and a mere one or two weeks ago when I thought I was finished, done for, a total has-been.
My knee did not give me even the tiniest whisper of trouble. It was as if the past 3 weeks just vanished. Something happened yesterday which I found very intriguing. After work I met up with a co-worker to practice stairclimbing for the big event on Sunday. We quasi-jogged the 100 or so feet between my office building and the building next door where we climb stairs. Within the first few strides I had taken, my knee fired off a couple of warning shots, bursts so painful I almost stumbled and fell, thinking to myself, "Oh my god, is this it, is this the end?" Once we reached the lobby of the building, I sat down in one of the chairs, and as I bent my legs to put my butt in the chair there was an eruption of pain so intense I almost cried out. Then I felt something slide over the outer edge of my kneecap, like a band snapping back into place, and it was one of the oddest and most uncomfortable sensations I've ever experienced. And then it was gone. I pressed my fingers to my knee, probing, lifting it, swinging it gently back and forth. Nothing. We did our four ascents and descents of the stairwell and I felt nothing. I pounded on that knee for 8 miles today: nothing. What on earth happened? Did my IT band somehow miraculously and magically find its groove again? I may never know.
In other news, as of today I am officially a member of the NYC Running Chicks and a Few Dudes relay team for the Green Mountain Relay, which will be held in Vermont in June. My friend and fellow runblogger TK of Pigtails Flying did this race last year and had a great time; she put the screws to me to join her on the team this year and I confess it didn't take much arm-twisting on her part before I caved in and said I would do it. I love road trips, I love adventure, I love New England (that's where I went to college after all—Massachusetts) and best of all, I LOVE RUNNING. Put all four together and I know I will end up with stories to last a lifetime.
I've already decided I am going to "liveblog" the event using the iBlogger app for my iPhone. Hooray for geekdom!