Most of you know that today is my birthday. And as birthdays go, the day was quietly appreciated. My hubby got up at 4:30 a.m. and kissed me goodbye as he headed to Ft. Lewis to do his annual rifle qualification (which HAD to be scheduled for my birthday). When he got home around 8:30 p.m., we ate spaghetti made for us by his sister and watched the riveting and tear-jerking special on The Flight that Fought Back. Which, although it was interesting, is not the fare I would suggest to stop one from remembering that her birthday is shared by a national tragedy of outrageous modern proportions.
But I gave myself a present. Once both the boys went down for their naps around 5 p.m., I gave the reins over to my brother-in-law and went for a run. I'd intended to run out a little over three miles, and just get as far back as I could stand. This was only my second long run of my post-pregnancy training; last Saturday we went not-quite-six miles, my longest run in years. It had felt good, but I'd only gone 45 minutes without stopping. Today, I thought, I could at least go for 50. And maybe 55?
I chose a route that was mostly uphill for the first 3.5 miles, and would be mostly downhill on the way home, winding through southeast Division, Hawthorne, and up to Mt. Tabor. My route took me through the streets where I'd run and biked all my young life, past coffee shops and the houses of my friends new and old. When I crossed 60th at Taylor and headed into the park, I calmed my breathing and relaxed my shoulders yet again, and headed up the hill. I hit it strong, and even, and slow, and at 35:15 I had made it all the way to the top of the third reservoir, a very respectable run at a respectable pace. And I started down, I reminded myself to pick up speed, I adjusted my arms and lengthened my stride.
And I ran. It felt so good, and I wasn't even getting tired. My toes were getting achy, and my legs were registering the repetitive trauma, but my lungs felt wonderful. I kept running, marking time on my watch. 40 minutes. 45 minutes. At almost 50, I suddenly started feeling the tiredness, but I just kept going. And going. I rounded the corner onto Division and headed past Stumptown, and knew I could keep going. 55 minutes. I could make it to 60. I did, and I was faced with my last hill. I had decided to keep running until just 1/4 mile from my home, and I told myself as the sun angled its rays over the families out for a Sunday evening stroll, I told myself, "I can do it, I can do it, I can do it!" and think-I-canned up the hill, and just kept running. I ended at 1:03:30, my longest run... since I was 26 years old. What a great way to celebrate my 32nd birthday. I was both euphoric and ridiculously proud of myself. Happy birthday, I thought to myself. It was happy, indeed.