Returning to the roads

After a 4 month hiatus from racing, I'm returning to the roads tomorrow at the Shamrock Shuffle 8k in Chicago. This is the USATF National Club Team 8k Championships and I'll be racing with my New Balance Silicon Valley teammates.
While my fellow competitors were tearing it up during the indoor season and posting fast times at Stanford Invite, I've been rebuilding my base on the roads of Cleveland. With the myriad life changes of the past few months, I've have some hiccups in training, but as of late have been logging miles, powering through long tempos, and enjoying cross-training sessions in the pool and on the yoga mat. 
Cleveland running trails - beautiful when it stops snowing and the sun comes out!
I'm not quite sure where my fitness is at, but tomorrow I'll lace up my racing flats to test the waters and find out! It's a little intimidating going into a race after such a long break from competition and with so many unknowns. But I'm trying to see this as an opportunity, rather than something to fear.
Tomorrow's race course - the streets of Chicago!
I'm not sure what I'm capable of tomorrow, so instead of dialing into the splits, I'll be listening to my body and running by feel. If I challenge myself, push my body, compete hard for 8 kilometers and am pooped when I cross the finish line, then it'll have been a successful race.

I spent much of the past year chasing a time (the Olympic Trials 10k A Standard - 32:45) or a place (a top finish to secure a spot on a USA team). Race after race, I came up heart-breakingly short - 2 seconds here, a second a lap there... Thankfully, a time doesn't dictate my success or failure tomorrow, and this realization is incredibly liberating. It releases me from the fear of failure and allows me to RUN FREE. Which is kind of like running joyfully... :) So that will be me tomorrow, racing joyfully through the streets of Chicago! 
So happy to be reunited with these fine folks!
A joyful runner is a powerful runner - so watch out, here I come!