Next year is now

Christmas Classic, Bedford, Va. It always seems like "next year" is so far away, but then it never really is. When it comes to running, I've thought about this year's Peaks of Otter Christmas Classic nearly every time I've gone for a run in Bedford. It's nearly impossible to not run part of that course.

A year ago this weekend, I sat on the sidelines and watched many friends run the race; it was that day that really set the wheels into motion of coming back from my injury that I still have a hard time shaking from my head.

It was that day I felt like I was more determined than ever to get back to running; it was also the same day I had my initial visit with Wimmer Chiropractic and began developing a strategy with how to run more than a half mile at a time.

Today was a special day as I was able to get to the start line of the Christmas Classic healthy, and with a strong goal -- break my course record. I did that today with a Garmin time of 22:54, more than 1:30 better than two years ago.

It was such a great race, despite my nose being stopped up again. I actually ran with a Breathe Right strip to help battle that issue.

Today's cold air felt great -- it was in the upper 30s when it started.After last week's lesson, I finally got brave enough to not wear a long sleeve shirt under 40 degrees.

I hit the first mile, which was a gradual downhill, in just under 7 minutes. I was very happy to battle the infamous hospital hill in the second mile and hit about 7:45. I wish I had some juice left in the final mile, but with a gradual uphill finish and a course record in the bag, I stayed focused on finishing under 23 minutes.

While the focus of this race was about completing my comeback and ending my racing year strong, I also thought a lot about my grandfather who passed away earlier this year. The loop course was his favorite walking loop, and through the neighborhood my grandparents lived in until this year.

I thought a lot about him today, as I often have on runs by myself this year. With Christmas near, the memories of him wearing a "I told you the Schmidt house!" Santa sweatshirt every year are as clear as ever in my head.

Christmas Classic To add to today being a special day, my son also completed another race -- a simple quarter mile in which he was able to dust another little kid at the end who veered off course. This was after my son's shoe fell off and he was complaining of his legs hurting.

Seeing him doing this on his own terms is just awesome. I don't think he quite "gets it" yet when it comes to races, but I'm sure he will soon enough. And when he does, he'll quickly break all of my personal records.

For now, it's all about having fun. Something I'm doing a lot of, too.