Kissing 12

I have been flirting with it for days… seven weeks into training for the New York City Marathon, after a long year of running injured and then months of rest and recovery… I had been flirting with 12.

My last few runs had been right there… with my first mile around 13:10 – so when I laced up my shoes this morning I thought “today is the day”. There were many reasons my it shouldn’t be. It was a big time jump I was looking for. The weather was off…. 79 degrees with 85% humidity and a decent head wind. I was home, after all, because this weather had kept me from my planned race. It was later than I normally run, and I had already had breakfast a few hours before.

But here is was, a break in the rain, so I strapped on my Garmin and marched out the front door… the warm wet air slapping me in the face when I took that first breath.

My route was fairly flat… and I knew that the hardest part would be the last half mile of this 5K, because I would be running north, into 15-20 mph winds kicked up by this storm.

As I closed in on the end of my first mile, I was feeling good… almost afraid to look. My Garmin 620 vibrated on my wrist and I saw it: 12:37… After weeks of flirting, I had kissed 12.

Mile two. Would I lose steam? I thought about my steps; my cadence and my gait. I thought about my breathing…. consciously held my head high and my shoulders back, my arms relaxed at my sides… my watch buzzed again –  12:43. I wasn’t just kissing 12, this was a full on embrace.

Mile three. I had already turned to the west, the wind on my side. A few times with the wind on my back I saw it…. 11… for a few steps some fleeting seconds but I knew, not yet. I can’t manage a relationship with you 11… I am not ready. The hardest part was coming…. turning north the wind was right in my face… and I fell for pockets of time back into the comfort of 13… but it felt strangely manageable. My watch buzzed again – 13:08.

Yesterday, that would have been my fastest mile in these 7 weeks of training.

I let myself have a little burst for that final .1 – and when I pressed pause I saw it- 12:46 average pace.

I looked at the lap times…. I had not been dreaming this – there is was in black and white.

I thought to myself… If this were the marathon, I would be over the Verrazano Bridge, a mile into Brooklyn – turning left onto Bay Ridge… I would be thrilled with a 12:46 pace 3 miles into the race… and I have 9 weeks left to train.

For the first time, in a long time, I am feeling like I am ready to race again.