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Back at the track after an absence of a week and a half, I was in for some surprises.

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8/26/02
Getting Back on Track

I never wanted to write these words, but I'm going to tell the truth: I've been slacking off. Between one thing and another, it had been a week and a half since I'd last put sole to pavement. I woke up yesterday, full of renewed resolve, but I thought I knew what to expect. I wasn't optimistic.

I didn't want to know how much progress I had lost in my time away. But with so many people pulling for me, I knew I had to get back on track and assess the damage.

Conscious of avoiding injury, I took extra time with my warm up. As I transitioned from a walk to a run, I was gentle, easy with myself--first gear. Slowly I rounded the track, checking in with each part of my body--everybody ok?

I remembered what coach Danny had told me in our last lesson: shorten your stride and increase the turnover rate. Each foot touches down for a fraction of a second; steps are light, rapid and comfortable.

As I completed the second lap, I felt solid, breathing easily. I leaned slightly more and my stride opened, heels floating up behind me--second gear. I held it there as long as I could, then dropped back to first.

I continued rounding the track, moving between first and second, and slowly it dawned on me: I was going to run farther than I ever had before. This was so unexpected. I was sure I would suffer from my lack of practice, yet here I was, stronger than ever.

When I slowed to a walk after two and a half miles, I was jubilant. I'd made it half-way to my five-mile goal. I was so glad I hadn't given up on myself. I'd stumbled, but caught myself in time. Now I'm experiencing this exhilaration, the sheer joy of moving beyond my previous limits.

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