Moving to Vermont from NYC has been a culture shock in a lot of ways. Something that I always took for granted living in New York was the abundance of races on offer every weekend. There was always something to sign up for, always something to train for. Thanks to the NYRR policy of offering guaranteed NYC marathon entry to anyone who volunteered at one and ran nine NYRR races in a year, there was also always a reason in the back of my mind to race as often as possible.
A few weeks back I drove to Waterbury, VT, to see the ladies attending the Rise Run Retreat and cheer them on at the Leaf Peepers’ half marathon. Grabbing coffee before going to spectate, I ran into the husband of one of my friends. We chatted and he said to me, “So how come you’re not running today?” I replied, “That’s a good question…I don’t really know!” And it’s true, I don’t know why I haven’t been more proactive in searching out races in my general area. Maybe it’s that the debacle of the Vermont City Marathon kind of took the wind out of my sails about racing for a while. It could be that I don’t feel the same sense of a running community as I felt in New York. Back in Brooklyn, I would go for a run in Prospect Park and the running loop would be full of runners, even at odd times of day. Now I can go for a run and maybe two times out of three I won’t encounter another runner.
So what is it like being a former racer who’s now just out there running? In some ways it’s been strangely liberating. If I feel like lifting weights instead of running on a particular day, there’s no training plan or upcoming event to make me think twice. I’ve paid less attention to my pace and more attention to how I feel while I’m running. In fact over the weekend I went for a long run and totally forgot to even look at my pace or splits afterward. If I want to stop to say hi to someone’s dog, or explore a little side trail, or just pause and enjoy a view, I do, without thinking about how it affects my time.
When I did the RRCA running coach certification in September, there was a lot of discussion of adding more easy runs to your weekly mileage, of conversation pace being an ideal for runners. This concept was also something Laura brought up when I did the Runner’s Reset at the beginning of the year. And just through not having a time, distance, or event goal to train for, that has become something I am definitely mastering. It’s meant I’ve built a solid base of fitness that has carried me through post (almost) marathon in May.
But I’m getting the racing bug again. With the NYC marathon this coming weekend, I’m already excited just to track my racing friends online, as well as to watch the coverage of the elites. I know I’ll be inspired and excited all over again for pushing myself and seeing what I can achieve. I haven’t decided whether I will apply to run the Vermont City Marathon again in the spring. My gut feeling is no, maybe only because training for it was rough for me and the experience itself was brutal. I am actually considering picking a goal marathon somewhere I can travel – see a new part of the country and enjoy a trip as well as a challenge.
Who else has taken an extended break from racing, without being injured or out of commission? Did you come back strong, or never really get the bug again? And what’s your favorite race in the US? I need some ideas for my comeback! 😉