It was a great day to gather with friends for our biggest local winter race! It was in the low-30s and lightly flurrying. I had not been in a great frame of mind the night before and into the morning (from events unrelated to the run) but I had the choice to crumple or suck it up. I chose the latter. The day was tailor-made for the "Suck it Up Buttercup" shirt. Coach Jim's race instructions were to go out at 7:20-7:25 for the first two miles then settle into race pace (7:15ish). So I looked at this race as: a 2 mile warmup + a 10k race (no biggie, there was no swim or bike before!) + 2 final miles to attack and burn up what was left in the tank before re-entry I finished in 1:12:42, a PR for me by 29 seconds (7:16 pace). It was enough for the top master's spot. And YES I hit Coach Jim's designated paces for the first two miles and YES I will admit that was a good strategy! Here's the Garmin data. My time was a minute faster than last year. Previous times: 1:15:08 (2009); 1:13:11 (2011); 1:13:37 (2012). When I ran the 1:15 in '09 I thought that was the best I'd ever ever do. Then when I hit the 1:13:11 in 2011, I figured THAT was the best I'd ever do. That's the reminder to just run. You never know what you can do. Today's race was a physical and mental win. In the midst of the effort (avg heart rate - 168 IS some serious effort for me) I felt very relaxed. This sounds really silly but sometimes when I run, like today, my legs feel like they are ten feet long. I found comfort and happiness in the sensation of covering ground and the rhythm of my footfall and breathing. I let go of everything else. There is just nothing more therapeutic than running. Racing is like unwrapping a long-anticipated gift. Coach Jim fills the box and race day I get to discover what's in it. I like where I am right now, 57 days out from Boston. (Oh...and my "race recovery plan"? Nine boys ages 11-12 here for a sleepover b-day party!) With my peeps!