If running has taught me anything, it's that I should never expect a specific result to a specific event, because quite often I end up being wrong.
In yesterday's case, Valentines Day, it was a pleasant sort of wrong for once. I'd signed up a couple weeks ago to do the Fanconi Anemia run in downtown Portland, choosing the 8K option. As race day grew near, the weather reports promised lots of rain which I began to dread - running soaking wet just isn't my idea of a good time. In addition, I did a grand total of zero running last week. Zero, as in Big. Fat. 0.
I live in mortal fear of instantly losing my hard-earned conditioning if I go for very long without running. It might be due to the fact that every major running article I've ever read on the topic infers that you start to lose it even after just a few days of inactivity, but more practically, I think this way because in my personal experience, this does indeed happen. Or at least, it seems to. Naturally, I was quite concerned about this race and how well I would do with the last week's absolute lack of training.
While I decided quite firmly beforehand that this was not going to be a race, but merely "a training run with roughly 1,000 other people for which I had to pay but got a t-shirt," it's really hard to refrain from the racing mentality when you head out after the gun and everyone begins to pass you. Not that I would consider myself a serious racer, but even at my turtle-like pace, I do like to try and challenge my previous times at the events. I knew in this instance it would not end well if I did that, so the buzzword I dialed in on mentally for the entire race was "gently." I would do well for a while and then feel myself trying to pick up the pace a bit, but I kept going back to my mental dialogue- although at one point, it progressed briefly to "$!%$*!*# - I said gently!!"
It worked. Not only did I not burn out halfway through with nothing left in the tank, but I managed to run the entire distance of this race without walking, which is the first time I've been able to do so since my previous running stint 10 years ago. Aside from the usual initial twinges here and there as I got warmed up, there was practically no discomfort whatsoever. The muscles were there, the lungs were content and the mind blissfully present and good-natured. It was a most excellent combination. It could even be that having taken a bit of an extended break from all running was a good thing for my legs and brought them back to life, considering the horrible run at Champoeg Park the previous Sunday.
I finished gently in 1:05:52. Not stellar, but nothing to shake a stick at, all things considered. It was a really nice reminder of just why I do this.