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Run With Swagger

I have a bit of a problem. The image of the runner I am in my head doesn’t exactly match up with reality.

when-i-runYeah, I know. It’s an old meme…but go with me here.

It wasn’t always like this. For many months, I had no trust in my body. No faith in what it was capable of…at least, athletically speaking. I felt weak and clunky and out of sorts when I ran.

And then I raced a 10K. My first ever, and the first real test of my speed since Amelia was born. I never wrote about it here (what’s the statute of limitations on race recaps?), but it was the first time in a long time that I felt strong, confident…competitive.

That morning I went out without my Garmin. It was hot and humid and the race start was pushed back so that by the time the gun went off, I was no longer warmed up and the watch wasn’t connected to satellites. I ran blind, without thinking. My only plan to make it hurt. The first woman took a commanding lead from the start, so I just told myself to keep her in my sight for as long as possible.

I held onto 2nd place for the first half of the race. Until the turnaround point, when a pack of 3 women who were running much stronger than I felt passed me. I tried to stay with them, but my lack of training and endurance were catching up to me. I told myself to just hold on for one more mile. And then another.

Somewhere deep inside I found that internal fire that used to burn so bright when I raced. I ended up passing one of those women in the final mile to finish in 43:10. Good enough for 4th (woman) overall and 1st in my age group. I was back.

Since then, I’ve no longer felt like weak, out of shape, postpartum Lauren. There’s a little swagger in my running stride, and in my head I’m pre-pregnancy Lauren. The Lauren who trains for hours and hours every week and is fit enough to run marathons.

Except I’m not. I have some speed back and am slowly gaining stamina, but I’m certainly not in the shape that I was. And definitely not putting the time into training that I once did.

And yet — part of me wonders if that matters. Not the training part, because obviously if you want to get faster and stronger you have to commit. You have to put in the time. The mental image of myself, I mean. You could argue that confidence in running is a good thing. You never improve if you don’t believe in yourself. Will never reach big goals if you don’t trust that you have what it takes to achieve them.

Then again, confidence can make you do some dumb things. Can make you forget rational thoughts for awhile and take on things that you might not be quite ready for.

In less than two weeks I am running the 100on100 relay for the very first time. This relay has been a dream of mine for a while now – 100 miles down the scenic Route 100 in Vermont. It’s going to be hilly, it’s going to be hard, but I am convinced that it’s going to be a blast. And in all my excitement, I kind of maybe volunteered myself for the hardest legs of the course. In the span of 12ish hours, I will be completing 18.9 miles, the last leg straight up Killington. Cumulatively, this will be much farther than I’ve run in…well, I can’t remember how long.

runner 2 descriptionNot going to lie – that runner profile makes me stupidly excited

But I’m not really worried. Maybe I should be. I’ve been fighting a nasty cold for the past week, which has made running difficult (read: almost nonexistent). My training for the race hasn’t been what I had hoped. And, as if the relay itself isn’t enough, I’m running a 5K the Thursday before with a team from work. It’s going to be an exhausting weekend for sure.

But, I have been running. I may not be putting in hours and hours a week, but my runs have been strong and consistent. I train on hills all the time. I’ve practiced running in the early morning humidity and the late afternoon heat. I think know I will be fine if I just pace myself. I guess we’ll find out for sure in 9 days.

The old LB is back. Maybe not physically, but in spirit. And that’s a start, right?

3 Responses to Run With Swagger

  1. You crushed that 10K! And I think it’s awesome you took on one of the most challenging legs for the relay, you might not have the same training as pre-baby, but you have a long history of training, you’ve obviously still got some speed, and this will motivate you and energize you. Have fun, it sounds awesome!
    Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen´s last post ..Life lately: July recap

  2. Lauren!!! I am SO proud of you!!!!!!!

  3. You did good for the 10K!

    And I totally feel it when I saw that meme – I thought of me! I used to jog a whole lot more too (and looked waaaaaaay better then too), and now, with so much work and life commitments, I can no longer jog as far or as often =(

    Let’s keep pressing on =D

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