Swapping a personal record for a breath of fresh air.

I'm running my eighth marathon in 12 days. Ha!

Oh, me. In twelve days I have to run a marathon I'm entirely ill-prepared for. There was no speed work this time. No calendar marked with detailed workout plans. Well, there was, but I didn't follow it. I ran 18 miles. Once. It sucked. I've gotten real good at 10- and 11-milers. But my motivation went out the window with June's 3:58 finish in San Diego. Man, was that a glorious moment. Won't ever forget it. I just wonder if I'll ever get back there.

That's silly to say, because I know I will. I'll even one up it and do better than that. Just not in 12 days. No way, no how. I've struggled so much mentally as I've watched Oct. 3rd get closer and closer, and continued to let my running efforts dwindle. At first I was angry. Why did I let myself slack so much? What happened to me? Where'd the girl go who went to the gym at 10 p.m. because she couldn't let that speed workout escape her before the day ended?

But I'm OK now. I know exactly where she went. She lived. She let herself relax. She enjoyed the break, if even for a short time. She adjusted to a new job, a new schedule, a new beginning. She exhaled and reminded herself it's just fine to let go once in a while.

I had an amazing spring. So many running goals were met. But my body was done - for now.

So on Oct. 3 I'll run 26.2 miles and I'll be just fine. I'll take my time. I'll listen to my body. I'll walk, if I need to. I've debated not even wearing my Garmin, or a watch of any kind. No pressure. Just a finish line, and a friend by my side with the same goal. I'll smile, let others pass me, and remember why I'm running at all -- because I can.

I need this one, relaxing, stress-free race to decompress and give myself a clean slate. The season will end on Oct. 30 with a half marathon with one of my best friends, then it's an empty calendar until February -- another spring, another training plan, with fresh legs and a fresh mind. By then I'll be ready. And it will be awesome.