I've dropped the long legging tights and running skirts that encouraged much laughter from other runners (read: my friend and neighbor who thought I looked frumpy) trading for running capris and tank tops. I was worried about my shins being exposed--the compression of the tights was soothing--but it doesn't seem to make much of a difference. The shins are gonna do what they're gonna do.
I'm doing the exercises, using the ultrasound massager, rubbing in the wolf's bane (which makes it sound like I saw a witch doctor, and I kinda dig that) and enduring the ice packs. Some days it works, other days I'm sore. That's probably just how it's going to be.
I've also got the new shoes. Elephant grey and orange dream bar--not exactly my color combo of choice for speed. But when the other neighbor and I hit the running store to get new shoes, these felt best. When I quietly confessed to my friend that, sadly, I was leaning towards the neon nightmares, she immediately turned to the sales guy and said, "hey, my friend thinks these are really ugly--do they come in another color?" I laughed and bought them anyway and they're working just fine. (As a bonus, I can find them in the dark when I wake up for early runs.)
But the real shift between last year's training and my current approach is the attitude. I know I can do it. And I can do it well. I'm cross training and hill training, rather then just trying to not die. I'm speeding up and recovering faster. I'm more diliberate in what I eat and paying attention to how it fuels me. And I'm enjoying the athletic process, as well as the good sleep and leveled moods it brings, even if the actual running isn't always easy or pleasant.
Then this last week, something changed. We headed up the canyon--my canyon--to try some of the downhill terrain we'll be facing in the half next month and I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was completely exhilirating. I found myself wishing that the run was longer. Tall trees, rushing water, cool breezes at my back--loved every minute of it. Two days of stiff legs from using the new muscles was only a steady reminder that my canyon and I were meant to be.
Come morning, I've got a ride to the canyon and ten miles to get back home. And a big part of me can't wait.