Today: Fun on the run.

Yesterday was our last race for the year, the Jingle Bell 5k in Somerville.  I had desperately low expectations for myself, considering I’ve hardly been running at all since the Tufts 10k.  That’s not to say I’ve been sitting around doing nothing… just almost.  By some Christmas miracle, I had one of the best races of my infantile running career and my fastest 5k (but not fastest race) by over a minute.  What the ho-ho-heck?

I think, if anything, this proves that running is (at least partly) a mental game.  There have been so many races that I’ve diligently trained for, only to wake up on race day a total looney tune.  I get so nervous that I convince myself I can’t go faster, or that maybe I should take a quick walk break, or that maybe I am having an asthma attack even though I don’t have asthma… and so on.

Not yesterday.  I woke up knowing the race would be fun (thousands of people show up every year, many decked in their holiday finest), I’d get to hang out with Nick and Jimmy and Colleen and Shaun, and that it’d be the last race of the year.  And that it wasn’t worth wondering if I’d do horribly, since I knew I’d do horribly.  I could recommit to running and be back on track in 2010.

By focusing on having a grand old time (and listening to Mariah Carey Christmas jams on my iPod), I had a grand old time.  And before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line.  When I saw the time on my watch (and let’s be serious, it’s all relative… I am not a speed demon by any means), I felt incredibly proud.  One of the best things about running is the fact that you can always improve, whether in speed or distance, and your strongest competition is always yourself.

A few things I’ve learned along the road:

  • No running music is embarrassing if it gets or keeps you going.  That includes my standbys: Purple Rain, Have a Holly Jolly Christmas and anything by Miley Cyrus.
  • Similarly, no running outfit is embarrassing if you’re comfortable… well… and appropriately covered.
  • Do not skip breakfast before a race.  I learned this the hard way a few races ago, when I found myself laying on the kitchen floor, convinced I had contracted a rare form of bubonic plague that only lasts and hour or two, but is terrifying nonetheless.
  • There’s a time and place for running with other people.  Figure out what those times and places are, and aren’t.  My sister and I started the Tufts 10k together, and I almost immediately knew I’d be holding her back, so I let that pretty little bird run free!  Muhaha.
  • Planning to have fun, is much more fun than planning to have an awful time.  Any dingbat knows that.

This year I’ve accomplished more than I imagined I could have.  From my first 7.5 mile race to my first 10k, to completing the full summer series and earning a coveted (well, maybe that’s a stretch) red jacket, I must say, I am quite pleased with myself.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you most proud of in 2009?

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