I'm hitting the road today for my first run since the marathon. I started to get antsy by the end of last week so I held off a few more days just to get myself that much more fired up. It's a strange thing to be headed out for a run with no particular training regimen behind it and with no race in the immediate future. Strange and fantastic! For a few weeks I can run any distance at any pace with any type of music with not a care in the world. Well, okay, I do have cares, I can just hold off on dealing with them until after the run. I can stop and smell the flowers. I can take my dog with me and she can stop and smell the flowers. I can have a 10 minute conversation with my neighbor mid-run and then keep going - guilt-free. I can get to a hill and turn right instead of going up because I don't have to do hills right now if I don't want to. I love racing and the training that goes along with it. I'm not an elite athlete, but when I am preparing for a specific event, I take it pretty seriously. My family knows that when I have a marathon on the horizon, I might have to miss some important things (ie. 40th birthday parties or soccer games) and they usually understand. As a runner who competes on a pretty regular basis, this stage is such a gift. It's when I am reminded of all the OTHER reasons that I love running and when I re-realize, so to speak, that there is more to it than just toeing the line. During this phase, I CAN say "I just can't make it work today" and it's all good. It's called balance, folks. Without it, I would drive myself insane. I guess I kind of do that anyway, so if I'm being honest here, I should say I would drive myself even more insane. And that would not be good for anyone. It's 9:00am and I don't have my running clothes on yet (gasp). I'm headed down to get myself a second cup of coffee (what?!?). Then, perhaps, I'll get out there. Perhaps.