Saturday was the worst and the best of everything. The weather was cold and foggy seamlessly melting into hot and sunny. My body said "Bring it on" and then recounted with "What did you DO to me??" What did I do? Twelve miles.
Let me start by saying it was another two runs in one day kind of weekend. Since signing up with Team Challenge a month ago I have tried to go to as many practices as I can. Although the mileage is shorter than what I had wanted to do on a Saturday, I was willing to break my runs up into two's in order to spend some time with the team.
Clearly fitting in is just not something I am good at. When I got to the park I was early and ended up walking up to the wrong group, looking around at all of them with out saying anything and then walked away. And of course I decided to wear the shortest shorts on the day that tuned out to be cold and cloudy and everyone else was wearing long pants. I laughed it all off and was still as upbeat as I could be considering the cold.
I pushed myself harder than I would on any part of a long run, especially one with hills. This was mostly due to the amazing mentors that show up to run with us including fellow blogger Denise From Running Journal. I listen to them talk about training for ultras, and qualifying for Boston and I thought of Larry. It was like running with four Larry's, older Larry's. It was like having my own running entourage surrounding me (literally I ran in the middle of all of them) telling me stories and I the naive little novice just soaked it all up and let it drive me. I let the idea of running more than 26.2 miles in a row float around in my brain with everything else. I listened to them talk about Chia seeds and other health foods and I remembered the times when I went on a health kick and loved it but it could never last because I can't deny my sometimes love of processed foods. I begin to wonder if I could be ready for a marathon by the end of the year. I know what the answer is. With out a doubt I could be ready. But I know there is a huge part of me that is scared to death to fail again. I know I can do the training. I can do the speed work and the long runs, but I am scared of that race. I am scared to fail again.
But I push that thought to the back of my mind as I approach the final hill of the loop. It stares me in the face, laughs at me and forces me to slow down. The confident feeling I had inside me for the rest of the run disappeared as I slowed behind the rest of the pack until we reached the top of the hill. Slowing to a jog and then walking never felt so good. My body cried out in joy, and I rewarded it with Shot Blocks and Gatorade, little did it know it was far from done!
An hour later I was back on my feet again, running along west river drive. My mind was so tired already that I had trouble remembering where I had started and spend a good quarter mile trying to figure out where my turn around point would be. I spend most of the time watching people. Couples out running together, women out plodding along with fuel belts strapped to their waists, one guy raced by me at a speed so fast I was in awe and I literally stared as he flew by. Forgetting where I stared made the turn around point come faster than I expected and as I headed back I ran passed two girls in shorts and tank tops walking ahead of me on the path. I had passed these same girls running in the opposite direction and instantly envied their skinny legs sticking out of their shorts. They ran along at a brisk pace and made it look so easy, and were easily at least four years younger than me. I made a mental note to tell my sisters to never let their legs get fat. Work out for as long as you can, do whatever you need to do, but never let your legs get fat because it is so hard to un-do.
But now I pass them as they have slowed to a walk and I think at last I can re-claim a little bit of pride as not just the slow girl. Until I hear feet speed up behind me and giggles and they have once again ran ahead. I remind myself my goals of the day, to run 12 miles, and not to compare myself to anyone else. There will always be strong runners, faster runners, and dozens of people to whom running comes naturally. I know myself well enough to come to terms with the fact that with my short legs I am not a natural runner. But I do the best I can and always put on 110% and as long as I do I am happy. So I keep going. I keep going across falls bridge and when I realize I have under a mile to go I find an extra little ounce of energy and pull it out for the last stretch. In that last half mile I once again pass the skinny legged girls now stretching out next to a tree. I don't let myself get cocky or gloat (although it does feel good) but I think to myself, I don't know anything about them, so I cannot judge. Just as people passing me do not know how many miles I have run today, or what my capabilities or goals are, and they cannot judge. And if they do I will never know.
Finishing that last stretch of my long run has never felt so good. I found a stride and an energy I never knew I had. I pushed and my legs didn't hurt and I finished and I have never felt better. I think if you looked at me at that very moment in time you would have asked me why I was glowing. I was radiating with the joy of having finished 12 miles and feeling fabulous. One mile less than my race in a few weeks meant I was one step closer to being back to my crazy running self. Although I physically felt tired, mentally I was on top of the world and I felt like everyone could see it.
I continued on my day like normal, getting my usual post run ice coffee with espresso added in for an extra kick. I told myself I would take a nap when I got home but like usual I cleaned instead until Boyfriend called and we hung out together all afternoon. It wasn't until dinner time that I started to feel the effects the morning's workout. It started innocently enough with some minor aches and pains but graduated into full fatigue until I passed out on the couch unable to keep my eyes open anymore. And even though I woke up the next morning with pain in my knee whenever I bent to sit down, I took some Advil followed by some ice and by noon (and a few glasses of wine later) I was feeling like myself again. I felt strong and accomplished and couldn't wait until I could get out there and run again.
Boyfriend and I ran three miles after work tonight. He PR'd. By over 3 minutes (because I pushed him the entire second half) and I deleted the time off my watch instead of saving it! I was so mad I wish I could have saved it so he could have seen it. I have never been so proud of him and all he has achieved. But I say that at the end of every workout.