Three, two, run. . .

The week of April 28, 2013. It might not hold any particular significance for you, but it’s the beginning of the ‘long haul’ for me. This week marks my first official week of training for the Pikes Peak Marathon; and yesterday marked my first official day of training, which, according to my plan, included “6 miles hills.”

So, at about 5:30 p.m., I closed my office door and changed into my running gear. I always try to be discreet when I change at the office to head out for a run, kinda like Clark Kent. Huh huh.

Eh?! Whatta ya think?

Eh?! Whatta ya think?

My ‘Superman’ delusions and I headed out for the usual starting spot, the parking lot between the track and the field house on campus.

All superhero references aside, I was a bit nervous about the run to be honest, not because of the distance or the fact that I was supposed to include hills, but because it had been TWO WHOLE WEEKS since I had done any form of working out.

I know it’s only the beginning of training; so I shouldn’t be particularly worried about pace. Anyone who knows me, though, knows that doesn’t matter, that I want to be fast all of the time, and especially now since I had been running with Melissa and knew that I could run fast.

I tried to talk myself into very lax expectations for speed, tried to remind myself that I would, in fact, get faster as my training progressed. And the fact that I hadn’t run in about two weeks – that I knew I’d be rusty – only added to the amount of self-talk required.

The sky was overcast all day, and by the time I got to the parking lot, clouded up and looked as if it might sprinkle rain drops at some point. There was an occasional cool breeze, the kind that feels only very slightly chilly if standing outside without a jacket but brings a most welcome, unexpected gush of fresh air while out for a run. Conditions were perfect for a ‘welcome back’ run.

Without thinking twice, I jumped out of my car, tied my key into the knot of my left shoe like usual, and cued my watch to training mode. Wake up, old friend. Time to get to work! Once my Garmin was good to go, I took off.

To my surprise, I felt pretty loose and fluid from the start; and I was pleased with the digits on the screen when my watched beeped to mark the first mile. Huh. OK. Not bad to start, but I’ll slow down as I go.

To my even greater surprise, my second mile felt just as good and was about the same speed. All of that chillaxin’ must have done me some good, damn straight! I feel awesome!

To my greatest surprise, I felt strong the entire run, even up the few gradual inclines and steeper spots. In fact, I tacked on just a bit of extra distance at the end to get one last incline. And, once I got back to my car to grab my water bottle, one of those cool breezy whispers greeted me like a pat on the back for a most excellent first marathon training run.

That was probably one of the single most enjoyable solo runs I had run in North Carolina, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

I know my training runs won’t all be as pleasant as this one, but I am looking forward to the next four months. More than that, I am looking forward to seeing Dakin, JD, and any other peeps that wait for me at the finish line of my first ever marathon.

2013’s already been a pretty stellar year, but I can tell it’s only gonna get better from here.

Melissa Mincic, Ph.D., studies child development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a long-time road and trail runner. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @nerdinrunshoes.

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