I love the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. It's easily one of my favorite races. Over the years, it's served as a gauge for my health. I last ran it in 2009, as I was in nearly year-long training for running the Goofy Challenge (or the Dopey Challenge) at Disney. In 2009, I ran it in about 86 minutes + change, or about an 8:40 pace. I went on to narrowly miss breaking a 4-hour marathon in Richmond, which I took comfort in, thinking, "Hey, I ran in the after-winds of a hurricane, and I just did Dopey. I'll be back!"
In 2010, I flirted with Tri training. I forgot, however, a few points:
1. I only owned a 15-year-old mountain bike
2. I wasn't much for biking fast, because I was sure I'd fall off a cliff (even if in the Sahara --- I had an Italian mother growing up)
3. I really wasn't the best swimmer.
Off to do tris!
So, while BARELY training in two new sports, I was losing tons of running mileage, and also experiencing nagging knee pain. I'd try to make up for lost running time by CRANKING when I ran, which aggravated the knee more.
Fast-forward to Halloween 2010, and I ran the MCM on one working knee, because I'd already signed up for the race, and the MCM Mock turtlenecks were black that year.
Yes, I'm an idiot.
Anyway, January 2011 comes along, and by this point, I can't walk without a limp.
Goodbye, 2011. Hello, nothing but physical therapy. Oh, and hello EATING EVERYTHING BECAUSE FEELINGS. And, as a public service, when you hit 40, your metabolism really does slow down. A lot. So recoving from (this is true) visits to "Steak and Shake's Happy Hour" (they really do have one) set me WAY back. You can't just run 40 miles one week and be back in shape again.
I've spent much of 2012 easing into running again, and doing some biking on a used tri-bike I bought. I promised myself I'd hold off on racing until the Cherry Blossom, when I would have almost a full year of gently-amped-up running under my belt. Things were going well. I'd lost almost all the weight I'd gained from 2011, and was almost liking myself again.
Returning from Maui, I found myself running faster. I was actually thinking I could finish Cherry Blossom faster than my 2009 PR, which was particularly important. Why?
The McMillan Pace Calculator suggested I should have run 2009 Richmond in about 4:01 or so. If I could put myself in a position to finish the 2012 Cherry Blossom just a TEENSY bit faster than my old PR, the calculator was predicting a sub-4 finish.
Now, I realize it's not an oracle. Not by any means. But, it tells me that, after losing the person I was for almost two years, I might be back.
Which brings me to now.
I have something -- I don't know what -- going on in my left ankle. Pain. Kinda behind the ankle, so almost classic Achilles tendonitis. Having learned from past mistakes, I've rested it this week. But I feel the weight creeping back. Still making better health choices, but also it's not healing fast at all. Which is making me plenty tense. I can FEEL my cardio-fitness level falling.
I'm so close. And now here's the classic runner's, "two steps forward, one step back" thing.
Pardon me while I wallow. And ice. But I will NOT eat my feelings. Because THAT kind of blossoming would NOT be good for me. Not anymore.
Nothing tastes as good as a PR feels . . .
. . . I just hope I get to find that out in three weeks.