I have two routes for my weekday lunch hour runs. The first is mine. It began as a walk through the neighborhood when I started at this company back in '08. I'd walk down to the end of the road during my lunch hour, and then turn back. For a while that's all there was, back and forth down this road, but eventually my curiosity (or boredom) got the better of me and I turned a corner... literally and figuratively. Over time the walk took me through and around the neighborhood, mostly on small residential streets, and I got to know the little quirks of the place. Once I started running - last October a bit, and then more consistently last January - my route got longer. Now it loop-d-loops around to a full five miles.
The other route is my running partner's. She works at a hospital 1.25 miles from my office. Our routes cross over each other, and a few times last Spring she and I passed each other while we were both out. One day, instead of just waving as I went by, I turned around and started to run with her. She was training for a marathon and had her daily 5 mile route mapped out - twice around on the main city blocks, cutting through right past my office. She's slower than me, but I loved her dedicated spirit, and think it's funny that she always runs in hospital scrubs - my coworkers have all asked about "the nurse" I run with. I started running with her just as my own dedication needed a kick in the pants. The first day we ran together she told me that I could definitely run a half marathon. She inspired me, and I signed up for one a few weeks later. We started running together every Monday through Friday.
My running partner only works at the hospital three times a week now, and currently she's still out of town on holiday, but I've been running her route anyway. Her route feels safer, and not because of outside forces. My route, the scenic one that organically developed over time and loop-d-loops around the neighborhood, gives me too many options for bailing. If I turn right instead of left, it's a three mile run instead of the five I intended. My route demands determination that I just don't have right now. I'm a little softer, a little less strong, both in body and spirit, than I was a few months ago. This is the first time since my November foot injury that I am working back up to training mileage, and my route has too many outs. So, I'm running hers.
Her route is not as pretty, and it doesn't wind around the neighborhood streets, but it keeps me on track. It's exactly 5 miles, and I only pass by my office once midway as I loop around again. I pass the same things twice. Once I'm on mile 3, there's no option but to keep going to the end. I like it this way, this week. It's these kinds of little mind games that help sometimes, and I know there's a good payoff later on if I bust through this first week or so of training.
Today I focused on numbers. On New Years Day I sketched out my schedule for the next 6 weeks of training. While I ran today, I considered the next bit. After February's, the next half marathon on my calendar is in April, but if I plan it well, there's a certain run that I've been wanting to do for months - my house to the beach. It's 18 miles, so I have to plan for it - 18 miles doesn't happen on a whim. I love the idea of running to the Pacific Ocean. It feels like a spirit journey. From my home in the "valley" it's not an easy jaunt - the Hollywood Hills fall right between us and the beach. Back in June this idea was impossible, but once I thought of it I couldn't get it off my mind. I trained the whole second half of the year for it, and did my first half marathon in October as a marker for my training. I originally figured I could do it the last week of December, but then my November injury interrupted the plan. During today's run I began considering the possibility of doing the beach run in March. Numbers, miles, days. The trick is staying injury-free.
Of course, first I have to get through this first week of training.
SECOND RUN OF 2013:
January 3, 2013.
Los Angeles, CA.
Temperature in the mid-60's, windy.
average pace: 8:43 per mile