Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies who will dazzle you with insight on various topics. After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:
Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.
Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.
Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World
This week, it’s a free for all. We pick our own topics, which works really well for me…
It’s been three years since I’ve successfully trained for a marathon. The last one was my Des Moines run. After that, I’d signed up for Kansas City, only to cancel at the last-minute due to illness. Then I stopped running.
Three years. Has it really been that long? I always figured getting back into training would resemble riding a strenuous, grueling bike. Sure, it would be tough, but I’d get back on it with ease.
That hasn’t been the case.
I feel like a newbie. All the old tricks up my sleeve don’t seem to work for me anymore. My body has changed, my mentality has changed. I used to push through the pain, injury be damned, but I can’t do that anymore. The hiatus from running has taught me to listen to my body, to care about protecting it from harm.
I am running an Oregon marathon in a little over two weeks. I don’t feel ready. It’s hard to train in Nebraska so early in the year, what with the snow and the icy conditions. And just when I feel I’m turning a corner, the weather is better, it’s going to get easier, more obstacles are thrown at me.
I pull the water belt from the mirror on top of the dresser. I’ve had it hanging there for years, unused. My body feels tired and worn out. I’ll admit, I haven’t been good about rest days. Training has been kicked into high gear. I’ve crammed in a lot of miles, attempting to make up for lost time during the winter months. Filling the plastic bottles with water is an old routine of mine but also a foreign thing to me now. I haven’t hit double-digit miles yet. Today is a 10-miler day. It’s been ages.
I make sure the Garmin watch, the iPod, are charged. I make sure to pack my arm band, so I can carry a car key with me during the run. All of this is haphazardly thrown into the car, a regular routine when you’re planning a run. In goes the water belt. I’m not a big fan of the water belt. It shifts and water jostles with every step I take, but I’m used to it. Even with the years of distance between me and that damn water belt, I know it’s something I will have to deal with.
The weather is cold today. That’s not a big deal. With enough layering, a hat, and gloves, 30-degree weather is doable. After dropping the little guy off at preschool, I drive to the trail. A couple of other cars are parked there. Most likely cyclists. I turn on the Garmin watch, letting it do its thing while I wait and get a look around. It was sprinkling earlier in the morning, but nothing too bad. It’s a gray and cloudy morning. The jogging trail’s cement form is easily seen through short, patchy brown grass.
Once the Garmin is ready, I walk a bit, warming my body up. Then, I get into a brisk jog. My upper body is screaming at me. Yesterday’s arm workout. I make sure to keep my pace light and easy. I could go balls to the walls, but I’ve already decided that I need to ease into the double digits. I need to get a feel for how my body will handle everything I’m putting onto it.
The wind starts to pick up. Wind is beneficial when it’s pushing you from behind, but your worst enemy when it’s coming at you from the front. It’s an added resistance I don’t want but I press through, staying at a 10-minute or so pace. I’m listening to music, I’m zoning out and focusing on the pounding of my feet along the pavement. Cars are driving over me on bridges made of steel, but I don’t mind.There’s something tranquil, peaceful when I’m in this zone. My breathing is relaxed, my body moves at its own rhythm. It’s one of the many things I love about running.
I can see it in the distance. I have to squint my eyes to read the sign.
I notice closer in that the barricade doesn’t entirely block the path. There’s a little bit of room for me to squeeze by, and I do, checking my Garmin watch in the process. I’m nearing 2 miles. I’ve seen barricades like this one before on the trail. Sometimes I’ve had to turn back, but there are other times that hasn’t been the case. Maybe I’ll get lucky today.
Or maybe not. Up ahead, I see construction workers. I can’t really tell what they’re working on, but I know there’s no way they’ll let me pass. The path is totally blocked off now, with skid steers and a bucket loader.
I turn around. This won’t deter me. The trail extends miles and miles in a few different directions. I can choose another way to go and keep at it. The little guy won’t get out of preschool for at least a couple of hours yet. Time is on my side.
Then the rain comes. I don’t mind rain, ordinarily. In the summer months, a rain feels like heaven during an intense run. It doesn’t feel so good in the cold, though. And then there’s that godawful wind. It picks up intensity, spraying water into my face. Nothing torrential, but it isn’t a light rain, either. It’s just enough to make me stop for a minute, and I put my gloved hands onto my water belted hips, laughing.
Maybe it’s the universe, speaking to me. I haven’t had a rest day in days. Maybe even weeks. My body is tired. Very tired. The path is blocked off, and now it’s raining. I decide to take all of it as a sign, and I head back for the car, squeaking in a 4-miler in the process.
A few years ago, I would have cursed my bad fortune. I would have probably continued running, even with the rain and the pain. I took training so very, very seriously and wouldn’t allow for anything to get in the way or interrupt what I’d had planned out. I couldn’t be flexible. I didn’t want to be.
Maybe it’s the break from running that has put my life into perspective, enabling me to enjoy what running does for my life as a whole. I’m not as focused on a stringent schedule. I don’t lament nearly as much when my plans are foiled. I may not meet my goal miles in time for this full marathon and I won’t freak out about it. There’s always the half, and that will be more than all right by me. I’m glad I get to run, period. Even when it’s a 4-miler that should have been a 10.
I throw the running gear into the passenger seat, removing the water belt as gingerly as I can. I make the decision to stretch when I get home. I also make the decision to take a rest day (today).
And let’s face it; there’s always tomorrow….