The shoes in the image above are mine. I’ve run more than 1800 miles in them over the last three years. I’ve learned much on the journey. My skill as a runner has increased significantly. But there is still room for improvement. My Ironman training regimen is designed to help me finish stronger than I start. The workouts tend to have tougher components toward the end. Such was the case Sunday afternoon. I was scheduled for a two hour run. The first hour was to be run as a warm up with low intensity just to get good and tired. The second hour was split into three, twenty minute intervals at race pace (or faster) intensity. I started at 1:30 PM in the afternoon on a mid-80’s degree day to simulate the race day run timing. The Texas humidity made sure I was warm right from the start.
I kept my pace measured and easy as I clicked through the first hour, marked off by my regular refueling every fifteen minutes. Then came the work. I laid out my run to have more hills in the second hour. That’s how the course is in Chattanooga in September. Just as I hit the first twenty minute interval, I was heading up one of the steeper hills of the day.
When you’ve been moving at a slow and steady pace for an hour, your body adjusts and kicking it up to a fast gear pushes everything out of whack for a bit until your body acclimatizes to the new pace. But I held it; I hit my pace goals during all three intervals. My software tells me my fastest kilometer of the day was my last one. I was speeding up as I finished! Yes! Real progress! But that second hour, that second lap was tough and demanding on my body and concentration.
Now that I look back on it, the first year after Kristi died was all about survival. I was thrilled just to get to this date last year. So much change. So much hurt. So much adjustment. I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I made it. We made it. Together and smiling! I knew we would be OK.
But as this second year without Kristi has drawn to a close, I realize that it has been much like the second lap of my run. This year wasn’t just about going through the motions just to make it to a certain date on calendar. This year was about making real progress toward thriving again. And we have. But it has been hard. The pace has picked up and life is churning onward. We’ve had to adjust to the new pace and the reality of the new normal has settled in. This isn’t a sprint. Its about endurance. However the path to thriving again is in moving forward, not back. I know it. Its exciting to have progress. But there’s a price to pay. I’m willing to pay it. My goal is not survival. My aim is to thrive!