Today felt like the first true run of Spring. This happens every year, and it is something I eagerly anticipate: the day when the crusty shell of winter cracks and all things seem to be leaping into motion again. It is not only a matter of the weather but also the day when time and opportunity coincide to create the conditions for a perfect run. The air is cool, and piles of snow still lurk in the shadows, but the sun is warm, and the brisk wind carries no bite. The miles pass easily. I am doing 18--the first long run on my road to 26.2 in Burlington, VT. Hills and wind only seem to make me stronger. My plan is to run 16 then step up to 7:00 (race pace) for the last two--to get used to running that speed on tired legs. But it's one of those days when holding back is impossible. I am not looking at my watch. Only occasional glances over the middle 12 show my pace falling from 7:24, to 7:20, to 7:16. At last I hit mile 16 and accelerate, and now I do start to feel it. But it's a good feeling, the best possible kind of tired.
I didn't bring any water--something I won't be able to get away with much longer. When I get back home, I see the wind has baked on crusty streaks of salt across my forehead and all down my temples. It's 10am and already I know it's going to be a good day.