Today’s run objective: run an easy 4.5 miles.
Definition of easy: 45 – 60 seconds slower than my half marathon goal race pace.
Number translation: 9:30-9:45 minute mile pace.
This run was going to be hard. My legs were feeling fresh from a rest day. I was ready to run. Go slow, go slow, go slow. I have harder runs to tackle this week. I didn’t want to waste my speed on an easy run.
Cole got home on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, New Year’s Eve, we began our family Christmas celebration. We celebrated with my family. We put out cookies for Santa. As the ball dropped signifying the start of a new year, we also waited for the arrival of Santa.
New Year’s Day brought a Christmas celebration to our living room. Cole and Chet opened new toys. They unwrapped packages and found new things to entertain them. Shortly after the wrapping paper dust settled, we headed to Christian’s mom’s house. It was time to celebrate the holidays with her.
Her sunroom was still decorated for Christmas. Presents filled up the space under the tree. I sat down to open my first package:
To Kristy. Love Ruth.
The tears started flowing. John was missing. Not only from the gift tag, not only from the celebration, but from life. I miss him. It never gets easier. The sadness is still the same almost a year later. I miss my Aunt too. I just miss them.
Chet fell asleep on the way home from the celebration. Cole and Christian had a video game to beat. I put on my running shoes and headed to my favorite place. The trails at first landing were calling my name. I needed to be surrounded by my trees and water. My heart needed a moment to reflect.
As I drove to the trails, I thought about my father-in-law and my aunt. John was a quiet man. Even in his silence, his heart was filled with compassion and love. His eyes twinkled giving away his secret. He was always really good at loving me. My aunt was the exact opposite. She lived on the opposite end of the spectrum. She was full of life. She tackled everything with everything she had. There wasn’t anything she could hide. Her actions showed the world just how much she loved life. Just like John, she never hid her love for me.
Run slow. Run slow. Run slow. I needed to see at most 9:30s on my garmin.
Mile 1 – 9:36. Perfect.
Mile 2 – 9:11. Uh oh.
Mile 3 – 9:39
Mile 4 – 9:50
.5 – 9:22
Final stats – 4.51 at a 9:33 pace
I got back to my car feeling like I had conquered the world. I was able to hold back and keep myself from running fast. My legs still felt fresh. My breathing was even. It was a hugely successful run.
A week ago, a run of this distance at this pace would have felt like a failure. I am capable of keeping all my runs in the 8s. I would have told myself I don’t need to see 9s anymore especially not slow 9s.
This week my approach is different. I’m focusing on proper recovery. I can hit all my key works, but it won’t matter if I’m not recovering properly.
Recovery is my focus. It’s where I have the real work to do.
2013 was full of high highs and low lows. I thought the highs would balance the lows. I thought if I just kept moving healing would happen with both my heart and my body. I was wrong. I forgot to take time to recover.
High highs and low lows don’t balance each other out. They aren’t opposites. They are both extremes. They are both on the same side of the spectrum. I’ve been attacking life with full force. I’ve felt deeply, loved deeply, and charged forward. My aunt would be proud.
While grieving deeply and living life fully, I’ve been missing all the wonderful qualities my father-in-law embraced. I have been missing the quiet, the soft gesture of love, and the small smiles.
I will always attack life with full force. I will always run down the high highs. The low lows are inevitable too. Life will always deliver sad news. The sadness never gets easier. It can’t be replaced by a high high. They do not balance each other out. The same goes for running. The faster long runs are not balanced out by faster short runs.
It’s up to me to find the balance in my life. It’s up to me make the time to recover and to go easy. I need this.
On the first day of 2014, a trail run at sunset gave me the wonderful gift of success. Success not in the form of a high or a fast run, but success in the shape of acknowledging exactly what my heart, head and body needs.
Tonight’s run was simple. It was easy. It was the slowdown I needed after a busy holiday season and a busy year. It was the compassion I needed after a holiday season with lingering sadness and a year of heartache.
2014 is full of promise. Shedding layers and focusing on simplicity is the exact balance that I need. Fill your life with high highs because life will deliver the lows. Just don’t neglect the moments that exist in between. It’s those moments that matter most.