February on fire

… I just realized that post title could go for either a jewelry ad or, um, personal appliances and accessories. But I’m sticking with it because 1.) I like it and 2.) It’s an accurate way to describe how my month is coming to an end.

The beginning and middle of February weren’t the worst of times, but in all honesty, they weren’t that fun either. The stress of the exam lingered a bit even after I passed it, and in mid-February I got the notification I needed to take my state and federal background check in order to get my license. My previous background check had expired and I had 30 days from getting that email to get my check completed, or else I’d have to start from square one. They’re going to wear sweaters in Hell before I retake that life and health exam, so I made sure I got on it, scheduled my fingerprints as soon as possible and got the background check taken care of as soon as possible.

I haven’t committed any felonies since the last time I had to submit to a background check. Thankfully it took no time for the automated email to come back confirming I passed and now hold the two new lines of business to my license. Once that email came in, I could finally release the stress from the exam and feel victorious.

There was a week of exhaustion that threw off my race training, and while it didn’t come as a surprise, I still couldn’t help feeling disappointed in myself. I want to be this ass-kicking broad who has the stamina to run all of the miles all of the time. I’ve been her before. I know I can be her again. I want to be her again.

But yet, I physically wasn’t able to be her a few weeks back. A short three mile treadmill run left me with some gnarly side effects that I’m not going to specify on here, and it took several days of monitoring myself to determine if what I had was normal or if this was a sign I actually did something stupid. So I didn’t run or lift or cross-train. And whenever I’d look at my 2023 run journal and see how few miles I was putting in, I’d berate myself. Why the hell couldn’t I just pull myself together?

By the end of January I ran 44 miles, which I was okay with since I knew I was coming off the holidays and had no time for long run weekends in between studying and volunteering. But February was supposed to be my come-back-swingin’ time. Pass that exam, then get right back to business. But instead, it looks like I’ll be finishing out February with between 44 and 50 miles. It’s an increase, but …. Well, it’s not what I had in mind two months out from my spring half marathons.

Yet last week, when I decided I was going to get those miles, I felt the old determination rising up in me. I decided that two-a-days on Tuesdays and Thursdays of three miles each would be an effective way to build up my mileage and I figured if I ran 15 miles during the week and a long run that weekend, I could make some real gains. As a full disclosure: I hate two-a-day runs. Two-a-days of running in the morning and lifting in the afternoon are awesome, but running with sometimes several hours between two runs? That’s like high school gym class levels of awful.

But I made myself stick to the running schedule. And to my surprise, I had both the physical ability and the mental desire to run twice in the same day. The cold morning running around one of the retention ponds invigorated me, and the lunchtime three miles were both a perfect wake-me-up and helped me deal with cabin fever. Previous attempts at two-a-days would leave me spent for the afternoon run, but looking over the times in my running journal, I got a little faster in the afternoons. The biggest surprise of all was that I genuinely wanted to run all of the miles all of the time again.

Reader-friends, I got my fire back. The fire I thought I lost as far back as 2020 was within me again, and it was especially there with me this past Saturday morning, when I ran seven miles and felt like I could have kept going the entire time. I checked my Garmin app once I was home and discovered that I had maintained a 10:39 pace the entire run. It’s not an elite pace or really all that brag-worthy, but I haven’t seen a pace below 11 minutes in almost two years.

I can be her, Old Allison after all. My body does work with me and my mind isn’t being crushed anymore. Every part of me is in sync again, and all those parts are on fire. The Archer is pleased, and The Broad Running Broad is feeling worthy of her own name again.

A part of me thought the month of February – AKA hearts ‘n flowers month – would be a time of self-care and regeneration before jumping into March training madness. I suppose it was, although not quite as I imagined. But I can definitely say February is on fire, as it once was and the time I worried was passed is still very much here. Perhaps the victory wasn’t supposed to be in the mileage. Maybe it was the fire reigniting. Actually, I think it is just that.

And so Reader-friends, I’m going to leave you all on this note. I hope you all are well, healthy and content. I also hope there’s fire in your heart and mind. And if you’ve stayed with me through all my rambling (tonight feels rambling to me) – thank you.

Yours in writing, running and life,


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