I'm not sure at what point in the last year I stopped hating running. I think it's been since August. Last year, I ran because it's free exercise, emphasis on "free." It's not my preferred way of getting physical activity, but there appear to be NO modern/jazz dance classes for adults in this town and I'm thusfar unwilling to join the gym at the University. Mostly because the gym is a hike from my office--and I mean hike. Uphill. A big hill. So I don't want to walk to the gym in the morning, work out, shower, and then have to sweat my way up the hill to my office. No way. And I prefer to work out in the mornings, so...yeah. I've just avoided joining the gym.
Sometime over the last few months, I've stopped hating it. I don't look forward to it, exactly, but I don't hate it. Podcasts are much to do with this. Running to music isn't fun for me, it makes me think about how I'm running, and that just makes me want to stop. But listening to podcasts makes the time go by quickly, because I'm listening to a story, and I want to find out what happens, so I just keep running.
As Doug noted a ways back, I ran a 10K this fall, only the second in my life. I did better on the first one (two years ago), but was close to my target time in less-than-ideal conditions (not used to running on gravel, ground was muddy from rain, temperature was in Indian-Summer-ville). While "training" for the 10K, slowly increasing my milage up from 3 miles to 4, then 5, I stopped hating running.
So, when the opportunity to run another short race came around, the "Down and Dirty" 5K, I decided to do it. This time I left Doug home, and woke up early on a Saturday morning to sub-freezing weather. I drove over to the race area (the same place I'd run the 10K!) with a hat and gloves and commenced to run the fastest 5K I've ever run. I think I clocked in at 26:45 or so (the above link should have the race results posted on the website along with pictures....but they aren't there yet). Considering my best 5K before this one was 27:50, this means I shaved over a minute off my best time....go me! And even better...I placed 3rd in my age group! Apparently of the 100 or so people who ran the race, this was by far the biggest age group, so obviously it's very very meaningful. Here's my medal:
After the 5K they held a one mile "fun run," populated mostly by families with small children. After Doug's experience and this one, I now understand that "fun run" means "mostly for kids." But having looked at the race results from previous years, the placers were all adults and I thought I might be able to "medal" in this event too. As it turns out, I came in second. Not second in my age group or second for women (though both of these were true too), but second overall. The top finisher was a marathon-running woman who ran the mile in just under 7 minutes, and I came in at 7:40 or so. I probably could have pushed myself to run faster, but it seemed plenty fast enough. The ridiculous plaque I received:
So where does this leave me? With some silly awards and the possibility of training for a half-marathon. I have zero interest in a full marathon, but I think I might train for a half. Maybe.
Also with the knowledge that I like running in the cold. I woke up on November 4th with an extra hour on my hands due to the time change, and I decided to use that hour for a run. Of my own free will, I ran 6.5 miles in just over an hour and came back invigorated.
I think Doug is worried I've been taken over by an alien.