For most people, a new year means resolutions; for many runners, a new year involves reviewing their outlined running goals and races for the coming year. I’m going to run a half-marathon every month this year, or I’m going to get a personal record(PR) in my 10k time, or I’m going to qualify for Boston(BQ) this year. For me, being a relative running newbie, it seems that I was a little late in setting my goals for the year. In the last week of December, I browsed California 2015 marathons and half-marathons online. Any race from June to October was out for me. I’m a sweat-er. Maybe I’m already peri-menopausal at 41 years old, but I go out for a run in 55 degree weather and come back looking like I jumped in the pool. I don’t perspire, glisten, sparkle, or glow. I sweat. I get drenched. It isn’t pretty. Add to that training in the summer heat requiring me to carry a gallon-sized jug of water and I’m not up for it.
Back to my browsing; the Divas Half Marathon in Temecula on February 28th seemed relatively close. It’s mostly women and most are wearing tutus. My inner Sarah Jessica Parker really wants to run in a tutu, but it was already sold out. The Disney Tinkerbell Half in Anaheim on May 10th is another women-themed race that would not involve travel, but sold out long ago. Pixie dust and sweat probably makes a messy paste anyway; my play-dough covered days are over. The OC marathon in Newport Beach on May 3rd is close but on a weekend that I’m working. When you are a mother, working or not, it’s hard to just run any race that you want to. The New Year’s Race Night Half in my own city of Los Angeles on January 3rd would have been great had I planned in advance, but I hadn’t. I haven’t tried a night run yet.
On January 3rd, a Saturday, I got up early to go for my long run of the week. My plan was to run somewhere between 8 and 10 miles. Due to the holidays, it had been a couple of weeks since I’d managed to get in a run that was over 5 miles. I grabbed my water, my granola bars, my Garmin, my iPod, and I was off. The first mile always sucks! When will the first mile not suck? Somewhere between mile 2 and 3, I start feeling great, and then it becomes meditative. Me, my body, my thoughts. And before you know it I have run 8 miles and I’m feeling pretty good, so I think ok I can easily go for the 10 miles today. And then as I’m almost done with my 10 miles, I’m thinking I wish I’d planned in advance and signed up for that LA New Year’s night half, and then I decide I’m just going to run my own January 3rd half right now.
I’m going to add exactly 3.1 miles to this run. Why do I need an “official race” to add to the number of half-marathons I’ve done? Do I have to have a number pinned to my chest for this run to count? Do I need another medal around my neck to have run half a marathon today like all the people signed up for the race? Or can I just run my own race. The race that I am running now and is not interfering with the kids’ schedule, my work schedule, or making me miss dinner plans with my husband tonight? So I pick up my pace and I run exactly until my Garmin says 13.1. And my time is only 1.5 minutes slower than my personal record. If I had known at the outset that I was running my own half, I definitely would have beaten it.
No one gives me a medal at the end. No volunteers with bananas and chocolate milk and goodie bags. No one cheering me on and saying you did it. Just me. Running my own race because I can. I couldn’t run a mile a few years ago, and now I can. And I do. And although I have no goodie bag, no medal, no race photographer taking my picture crossing a finish line, and no one cheering for me but myself at the end of my race; that night, while thousands of runners are running the New Year’s LA night run, I put on my heels and my lipstick and have a glass of wine at dinner with my husband.