I didn't immediately recognize the car as I drove to the meeting spot but as I pulled into a parking space, it registered. There in her Outback was a member of the running club. She's a tough, fast lady whom I met last year on the fun that was running in the polar vortex. It had been a while since I had ran with her, as many of the group run long on Saturdays.
But it was Sunday. Just shy of 9 a.m. And there she was.
Another car pulled in. A red one and out popped another club member. She's a spunky one, a girl I'm sure I'd be friends with if I had more time for a social life and to attend the regular runs during the week. I wasn't expecting her either.
Before we took off that morning, there were seven of us. Seven buddies on the trail for my swan song. The run would be my last attempt at double digits before this belly of mine puts limits on my running.
We ran two out-and-backs — 2.5 miles out toward the university and then back and 2.5 miles toward downtown and back. It allowed me the chance to fuel and hydrate without the cumbersome task of carrying Nuun, and it gave some of the others the chance to run part of the miles with me and keep other obligations.
I announced at the beginning of the run that I wanted to keep a 9:30 pace — no faster — and I needed help sticking to it. Partially because le Garmin has been moody and not always picking up satellites despite a software upgrade. The other reason is that my long run the previous week felt tough, and understandably as it was 8 miles at a 9:13 pace — on the faster side for me.
After mile 3, I got a check. J called off a split — 9:04. If I wanted to do 9:30, we needed to slow down. I needed to slow down.
But it felt OK. It wasn't terrible. The miles seemed like they were clicking.
And so it went, just as running thus far in pregnancy has. I expected it to be difficult and though not easy, the mileage goal was feasible, the pace sustainable and the reminders of pregnancy few. It was as if I was on just any other long run with some of my favorite people.
Except I knew that while they train for spring marathons, I'll likely be cutting back mileage and making fewer group runs. But it was OK. I was content. Satisfied. I was — and am — ready to accept whatever it is to come, whether it's 18 more weeks of happy running or something else.
I had my 10 miles under the fuel belt. I had ran them — and at a 9:21 pace.