(Earlier this afternoon.)
We ran south through campus, on the path right along the lakefront. God, it was beautiful--Lake Michigan was in rare form, just stunning in sky and water and skyline ensconced in fog. The wind, though... it was brutal and unforgiving. We were right there, unprotected from the shoreline, almost yelling at one another because it was howling so loud. The kind of wind that flirts with the idea of knocking you over, powerful bursts of energy. Still we persisted through the elements, getting in 4 miles along the Evanston lakefront, the lovely Northwestern University campus. V. and I have been going on running adventures; I am so happy to have her as not only a running buddy but as a friend. This was our favorite location by far!
I ran 17.4 miles in January. The most mileage I've had since marathon training ended at the end of the summer. January was a pretty tough month for me--work was stressful, the weather was very cold at times, and I also battled the illnesses going around. Today was my first run in two weeks, since my last run with V. Though I only ran 17.4 miles last month, the runs I had were all incredibly important and incredibly meaningful. Every run, one foot in front of the other--breathe in, breathe out.
Every run is a blessing.
I know this is not a given. I ran so hard for so long, making progress in my own time, not even really considering the fact that I could lose that. And then it happened. So this winter, really, has been a period of transition for me... in continuing to heal and get stronger. Sure, I only ran 17.4 miles in January. In December? I ran 4. I would say this is definitely an improvement and I know that I will only get stronger--as long as I maintain the balance between pushing myself, challenging myself to run harder and faster, and also listening to my body... because I am still healing, I am still getting my fitness back. This is a process, and it's slow going, and I need to be patient.
(Scenes from a few of my runs over the last month.)
I was recently guided towards the conclusion that before I can focus on distances and getting faster, I really just need to start running again, period. I need to essentially start from the beginning. I need to run for the sake of running. So that's what February will be about... getting more mileage than January would be nice, of course, but more than anything I just want to run, I want to find myself in my feet on the pavement and the lakefront wind whipping up my braids, stinging my cheeks. I want to fall in love with it again. I've made peace with my fears and I know what to do if things go wrong again. I'm prepared for all outcomes, and I'm ready for whatever comes.