|Finish line of Mercedes Marathon, 2011|
So for a few days I've been thinking on it. I wish I would have gotten a move on sooner and entered a post run picture in the current contest. Monday night's run would have been perfect for such a picture. It was one of those perfect afternoons and I'd been feeling the itch to get out and run in it all day. I wanted to run a little farther than I had been, just to see if I still could at almost 23 weeks pregnant. I wanted it to feel good, close to normal even. I started out with my usual 2 minute warm-up walk and then I started running. I got into a good groove around 2 miles, stopped for a quick bathroom break and then ran 3 more. That second 3 miles were heavenly. There was a nice cool breeze, a sunset, a favorite new song on my iPod, and my legs felt like they could go all day. When I finished, I wanted to keep going but I didn't want to overdo so I called it and stretched a little. I smiled as I did so, and maybe that was my "strong" face.
My finish time was 50:28 with my last 4 miles being slightly sub 10 minute pace. If I had cut out the 2 minute warm-up, I might have managed an overall average of under 10, but that warm-up helps me so much that I knew it needed to stay.
As I finished my run, I felt strong. I felt good. I felt proud that I could still run and feel like that in the middle of my first pregnancy and in that moment it didn't matter what other women were able to do. All that mattered was that I could run a good 5 miler at 23 weeks pregnant and enjoy it thoroughly.
These days when I run, I daydream of future events. I dream of sub 3:45 marathons and another 50 mile ultra. When I'm on mile 3, I pretend I'm on mile 30 and still feeling great. I dream of an amazing race where I finish and I am blown away by the experience. I dream of running and racing well. I dream of running strong for a new little one who resides in my heart, giving me strength simply by her existence. I dream strong.
Chances are, if you've been a runner for any amount of time, you've had similar dreams. A longer race, a faster race, a little bit more, a greater challenge... I think it is this activity that keeps us going, that keeps the adventure fun and endless.
So get out there and dream strong. Find your strong and get after it. Don't get caught up in comparing it to others and seeing it as small. Just find your strong and keep dreaming.