Oddly enough, for a competitive person, I've never really had an annual racing calendar. But, looking back, this year I guess I did. Eugene Marathon in May, rowing regionals in June, Red Dress 5K in July, a 10K and Hood to Coast in August, the Merrell Oyster adventure race in September, and the banner month of October with two rowing races (both golds!) and the Nike Women's half marathon.
And now it's come to an end.
Usually, having no foreseeable race would put me into a tailspin of dejection and depression. (I'm talking relative terms here, as I'm a sunny person by nature.) Instead, I can't remember the last time I felt so happy and alive during my morning runs and bike rides. I literally sometimes burst into song on my outtings. I know part of it has to do with the time change--now the sky is pinking up as I head out the door. And part of it may be the tunes I'm playing: On my hour-long run on Wednesday, I listened exclusively to songs from my new favorite show, Glee. (Yes, that's me as Coach Sue Sylvester on Halloween with my burgeoning Cheerios!)
I feel liberated. Not in a racing-was-wearing-me-down way because it wasn't--I approached each race with excitement and exuberance. (Like I said: I'm an upbeat person.) But I do feel footloose and fancy free running without any agenda. I've extended most of my weekday runs, going for an hour instead of 45-50 minutes, yet I'm not watching the time. I'm running for a feeling. I decide on a route I maybe haven't done in a while, then do it. On my recent Glee-fueled run, I paused to watch the sun rise next to majestic Mount Hood.
My plan is to start adding in hill repeats next week, then head back to the track the following week as I'm racing the Cascade Half Marathon in mid-January. But, who knows, maybe I'll just cue up "Can't Fight This Feeling" for the hundredth time and go for a just-for-the-hell-of-it run along the river.