This past weekend, I ran my first race in 3 years. It was my 12th half-marathon and either the 4th or 5th time I ran the Run Through Redlands. It’s one of my favorite races, but I have sat out the past couple of years. After running it in 2014, I got all dramatic and proclaimed I was quitting running. I was incredibly burned out and my body was sending me messages to stop. I had knee, foot and back pain and the beginnings of a long battle with migraine headaches.

I think I am finally getting my health back on track and have been migraine free since last October. I started to run a little bit more and more through November and December, very slowly building my mileage and focusing much more on recovering strategically from my runs (i.e.-not using my running mileage as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted and focus on inflammation fighting foods, plus lots of sleep, stretching and massage). Around January, I realized it was going to actually be possible to build up my training miles for the half in March, so I eagerly signed up and joyfully approached each training run. It felt so therapeutic to be running again! Especially with a much healthier focus than I had previously. So many of my past races where run with a focus on a certain time goal or because I felt I “should” be doing it to beat one of my previous records. I truly feel that I trained and ran this race from my heart out of my pure love and enjoyment for running and not with any other goal than to do something I am passionate about.

Rain was in the forecast for race day, but luckily it waited till the afternoon. The weather was cloudy and cool, perfect running weather!

I spotted my friend Melissa at the start line. Melissa is about to run her first full marathon is two weeks! I am insanely proud of her!

Before I knew it, we were off. I was super psyched and kept checking my pace because I knew I was going faster than I should. I reminded myself a few times to slow down so I didn’t burn out on the second part of the race. The first couple of miles are fairly flat and it’s a course I have run many times, both in racing and training. It was easy to take in the familiar sites and faces and settle into my groove. Around mile 2, I stayed steady with my speed and took my planned walk breaks every 2 miles.

Pretty soon, the hills appeared. This course is known for it’s intense climbs that steadily increase with the mileage. I took the hills slower and stayed steadily on pace.

Around mile 8 I received a message. Feathers are messages I know are sent from guides and it was a nice reminder to keep doing things I love from heart and not attach certain outcomes or meanings to them, therefore taking the love out.

The “top” of the course is my favorite part. First of all, the hills are behind you but mostly, for the breathtaking views.

This course has amazing local love. There were plenty of neighbors outside handing out their own water, oranges and encouragement to us.

Soon enough, I was finally heading downhill towards the finish line. I was feeling good! I still felt strong and my endurance was solid. I kept steady in my pace and felt sound in my mind. I felt emotional as I approached the finish line. After thinking I would never run again, I was able to build up these miles and return to a race that I love.

As I approached the finish line, I heard my mom before I saw her (she comes to nearly all of my races to cheer me on), spotted my husband and some friends who were also kind enough to support me. It was a blissful moment.

I feel incredibly blessed to be running again and with a renewed approach. I do not have any new plan to improve my time or sign up for another race. I want to continue running because I absolutely love it and see where it takes me.

Half-marathon #12 is done!