I'm in full training mode these days. I've got two marathons - one in the mountains and one in the city - and one 50-miler planned for the remainder of this year. That means a lot of lonely stretches on the road, feet pounding the pavement, energy chews fueling my belly and legs and large expanses of sky - both sunny and rainy - to move under.
For the past two weekends, I've undertaken "brick" workouts of runs. Two weekends ago, it was a 19-miler followed by an easy four with a friend the next day. This past weekend, I did a 10.5 followed by another 19-miler. I'm getting the miles in while I can.
Running is my meditation. I tune into my surroundings, breathe and think about the randomness of life going on about me. My brain peruses my marriage, work, racing, food, relationships with friends, the future and everything in between. I sometimes feel lonely, but more often than not, I feel content while on the road and trail...me, myself and I.
Two weekends ago, the running was wonderful. My 19-miler was motivated under thundering skies that drenched me with refreshing rain until the halfway point. Dave had an errand to tend to and along the way, he stopped by to check in and give me some motivation to keep going. I don't think I will ever say I run completely alone...I've got a pretty awesome support system of family and friends that keep my head in the right place and remind that I CAN do it, even when my legs are saying "quit."
The next day, I met up with a friend and we took some time running through a very muddy Wakamow Valley. It was awesome chatting and having company and the best way to recover after 19 miles the day before.
This past weekend was a different story. I decided to hit my 10.5 on Saturday. It was a breeze and I felt awesome. Strong legs, breathing was paced and my body felt like it could take on another 10 at the end. Just the way I like it. Sunday was a different story. I laced up for another 19 on the trails and roads and my legs would not fire. I felt as though quicksand had enveloped my body and mind. I couldn't focus and had a hard time getting into a groove. That groove finally came around mile 8. I was running in Wakamow and decided to avoid a muddy section of trail. In order to hop back onto the path, I needed to hop a chain.
That did not turn out as expected.
I hit the chain with my shin and got caught up and tossed up on the grass beside it. My shins immediately turned a nasty shade of red and swelled up. In tears, I called my support system at home and he came to retrieve me from the trail. Embarrassed, snotty and pretty upset with myself. My brain took over and said - not your day.
Dave was having none of it. After assessing that I was okay enough to walk, talk and breathe, he turned my head around. With a pep talk, a drive back to the site of the chain incident (side eye - Wakamow Valley), he sent me back on my way.
5 hours after I started, I completed the run. Sore, swollen, bruised and exhausted...I had done it. Along the way, I got encouraging notes from a good friend and another friend who was driving by stopped and we had a nice chat that kept my spirits up. Today, I was emailing my brother-in-law about the run...he is another piece of the arsenal that is my support system for the distance.
I never run alone.
I needed that run. I needed to know that not every run is awesome and that I will feel defeat. I needed to know that even when I feel as though I can't go on, I really can. I also needed to know that I have support and love from those that know and care that I run. From those that know how much running means to me.
In the end, it was the best run I've had to date...because it taught me so much.