Happy Monday! I say this semi-seriously, because I know for a lot of you, Monday means getting up early, and going back to work. For me today, Monday has meant getting up at a reasonable hour, 8am, walking my precious pup Ricky in the snow, going to Lifetime Fitness for a 7 mile treadmill run with my awesome teammates Meghan Armstrong Peyton, Elizabeth Yetzer , Jamie Cheever, Megan Hogan, and Matt Llano, and participating in an awesome fitness pilates class afterwards. If you love your job as much as I do, getting "back to work" really isn't a struggle. :) Especially after running a successful first race of the year this past Saturday, getting back to work is like getting back on a ride I don't wanna quit.
Since I last wrote on here (which as always, is way too long ago...SORRY!), my workouts have been progressing well. The past couple weeks, I found myself sounding a bit like a broken record when I would come home from practice- "My workout went really well again today!" My poor husband, who is on a gradual incline back to running after having a small hernia repair surgery a few weeks ago, must be getting pretty annoyed with my running perkiness lately. I for one, am certainly not getting sick of genuinely walking away from a workout with a feeling of confidence, strength, and purpose.
I got to put all the good workouts to the test this past Saturday, racing an indoor mile at the University of Minnesota's Jack Johnson Classic. While the Jack Johnson Classic isn't exactly the deepest or most competitive indoor track meet in the nation, in my opinion, it is the most meaningful place for me to begin my 2012 racing season. Jack Johnson was an integral member of the Gopher family, serving as our equipment manager for 30 years before he passed away battling cancer. Jack was one of those guys who lived, breathed, and died wearing Maroon and Gold. He went above and beyond the call of duty to serve his athletes, who he considered his responsibility as if he were all of our fathers. Jack was the one who made sure we were prepared for ANYTHING. He passed away in February of 2006, but I will never forget the first Outdoor Big Ten Meet at Michican State without Jack. It was COLD, RAINING, WINDY, and miserable by any normal person's standards. Our coaches insisted that Jack was responsible for the nasty weather, to prove that it is indeed essential to pack a tent, hand-warmers, parkas, extra gloves, etc.. to every single meet we attend, and also to give us tough Gophers a leg up on the competition. We were told to go out there in the adverse conditions, and compete like it's a party. With that mentality, we all went out and actually had fun, competing like warriors. We won our first-ever Big Ten Team Title that spring, running our victory lap with our JACK flag raised high (you can see our JACK flag just to the right of young Ben and I post-meet in the picture below).
So, long story short, I can only imagine the pride Jack must have as he looks down on his very own meet, named in his honor. Whether there were people running my pace in that mile or not, I wanted to run well for Jack, as my way to give back to the guy who gave so much of himself to a program that I too, feel forever indebted to. I took it out pretty hard from the gun, intending to run at a pace that would give me a mile PR until I can't run that pace anymore. Some might say it isn't realistic or smart to go out at PR pace for your first race of the season, but I thought it would be a great way to set myself up for a great race, or at least have a solid indicator of my fitness level. I ended up losing a little bit of gusto around 1000m in, but still came away with a 4:41.58 winning mile time and new meet record. I think this is my fastest ever mile opener, so I am content with being just 3 short seconds away from a PR at this early on, feeling healthy and ready to move forward from here.
Beyond the significance of it being Jack's meet, and a good season opener, it was so much FUN! There was a DJ pumping out jams for every race, there were great people everywhere I looked (alums, current and former coaches, my family, friends, hubby, parents of current and former teammates, officials that have worked our indoor meets since forever, and great athletes competing from all over.) Walking into that field house was a little bit like what I expect it to be like entering through the gates of heaven someday: loud heavenly praises, and great people everywhere!! :)
Thanks to everybody there, and to everyone in "my corner," so to speak, as I continue my journey towards my running dreams. It means so much to me to have people in my life that understand this running thing isn't just a selfish pursuit, but something I believe to be a CALLING, something much greater than myself. A chance to display the gifts God has blessed me with. A chance to inspire others to use their gifts for the glory of God. A chance to experience His love, grace, and peace in an exhilaratingly REAL way. What a blessing, and what a blessed life I lead.