Speed Play

Happy Post-Thanksgiving! It was a wonderful holiday, memorable 3rd Annual Downtown LA Turkey Trot for our family and all around amazing day of thanks. A few of my absolute favorite moments from the day:

  1. Listening to my 2-year-old son say repeatedly in his cute little voice, “I sanksul sor my Mama, I sanksul sor my Daddy, I sanksul sor my . . . ” and really feeling like they GOT the message, understood the holiday and truly felt thanks for this wonderful life.
  2. Listening to my 4-year-old daughter shout, “Go, Daddy, Go!” repeatedly during the final half mile of the Turkey Trot where I joined them after finishing the race myself. (Daddy was a bit slower than Mama again this year as he took on the role of pushing the triple stroller so I could go run my heart out.. another thing for which I am thankful).
  3. Watching neighborhood kids play hide-and-seek into the dark on Thanksgiving night post-dinner while adults sat huddled together sipping on delicious adult beverages and sharing stories, memories and laughs.

And now onto running talk…

2015 was a year of transformation of sorts for me as a runner. It was the first year of my running career (which has spanned over 16 years now) where I transitioned to a true long distance runner, a marathoner. I ran just one full marathon in 2015 – the Mountains2Beach Marathon in Ojai back in May, in 3:12. I never imagined I could run that fast for 26.2 miles. I dreamt it, I fought for it, I trained my butt off for it, but still I didn’t know I had it within me. Running so “fast” (for me, it’s all relative, I know), was very empowering and built a lot of confidence within.

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Over the next few months I went on to win some trail races, run PR’s and really just have a blast playing in the mountains with my kids, my dogs and my own two legs. Running continues to be the ultimate expression of play for me. I seek it for calm, peace and strength. In fact, I have been running consistently more (hence leading to higher mileage, averaging 60/week) for many months more. Running makes me happy.

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With all the long distance running, however, I have definitely noticed that over the past several months or year perhaps, my speed was dwindling. I have always had a strong finishing kick, until this past Fall. Running XC with my team, the New Basin Blues, I just didn’t feel any true speed or fast muscle twitching going on. It was as if all this running had sapped the kick, the freshness out of my legs. They say “Hills are speed work in disguise” and man do I run a lot of hills, but still all this mountain running has left me feeling sluggish when it comes to that final kick.

Overall, my fitness is near it’s peak. On Thanksgiving I ran 21:33 over a 3.6 mile course with some decent hills thrown in it, which means my average pace was 6:00 flat/mile and my 5K time was between 18:30-18:40. That’s actually quite fast for me, so I can’t really say I feel slow. But I did lack a finishing kick.

In the next month and then new year ahead, one of my goals is to really work on my speed again, while training for the L.A. Marathon. How can I possibly squeeze in even more running amidst this busy life of child-raising and puppy training and everything else that consumes me? That is always the question running through my brain. How can I squeeze in more?

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Yesterday I took the kids up to the grassy field, a short hike from our house with an old run down playground and some dumped/recycled play houses neighbors put up there when their kids had outgrown them. My kids love it up there. It’s wild, it’s free and they can behave just the same — wild and free. As I stood there watching them happily play in their own imaginary world as 6, 4, and 2 year olds, I realized there was absolutely nothing they needed from me. Heck, really they just wanted space, freedom and quiet to carry out pretend play.

It was beautiful. I watched and listened for some time, then I ran. It occurred to me that I could do some 100 m uphill sprints while they played. They would be in my plain sight all the while and I could get something done. C’mon, I’m a busy Mama, I always need to be “getting something done!” And so for the next 30 minutes or so, I engaged in my own sort of play: 20 x 100m sprints, all-out, with jog/walk recoveries on the way down.

It was awesome! The kids played while I tried to chase my dwindling speed, pulling it out of my fibers, from deep down within, remembering what it felt like to be fast, to be young. As we walked back home from play-time yesterday morning, our hearts were all smiling. Play will do that to you. Kids will do that to you. Running will do that to you. For all three, I am so thankful.

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