I expect we all have memorable runs - "one for the books," I call them - whether it's on account of the sights we witness, the camaraderie we experience over the miles, or simply the outstanding weather conditions on that day. Well, yesterday I had such an outing.
Yesterday marked the end of week-two of my 18-week Boston Marathon training program, and simultaneous with getting my plan underway, I've organized Sunday morning group runs. The past two Saturday nights have been tough sleeping nights for me due to anxiety about 1) getting up on time to meet the group, and 2) the weather for Sunday morning!
Two weeks ago I tossed around in bed listening to the wind blow with such force I just wanted to pull the covers over my head. The temperature had dropped that weekend as well, and I suspected there would be no way I'd be able to go out with a probable wind chill of well below zero. I finally crawled out of bed at around 5:00 to check the weather and planned to get an e-mail out to the group that I was canceling. Surprise - 18 degrees and reports of gusting wind but not sustained. I didn't cancel.
Nine runners showed up and while the wind was quite cold at times, we all did what we set out to do. Some ran seven miles, I ran my prescribed eight, and others did the ten-mile course loop. Great job by all. Yesterday, was a different story.
I woke up very early to pouring rain. Did I mention, it was pouring rain? Exasperated, I said out loud to my poor, now awake husband, "Do you think it could rain any harder?!" But I knew we were in for rain and I also knew the temperature was milder, well, at least it was over freezing. I got up and got ready to run, but I was not very excited about it.
I headed out under dark skies and rain and put out the two usual and customary water stops before arriving at the Cape Elizabeth high school parking lot. There were four vehicles already there, though I did not recognize any of them. I figured it was an earlier group of runners like Joel Croteau and his crew that come up from Kennebunk and other southerly places. I waited until 8:00 and then headed out for my solo ten-miler in the pouring rain. Dang, I thought, I sure could use some company today.
Instead, I called on the gifts I have received from my years of running. These are the gifts I try to share with others in the hope that they can know the same benefits from this sport that I have come to know.
The first and simplest lesson I have learned is to just do it. Period. End of statement. No questions asked. This simple Nike slogan has become much more than a tag-line for me. It is under my skin, it keeps things simple, it's a command, not something negotiable, and it works.
The next realization I embraced while I might have still had some dry skin some where, was my Commitment. It didn't hurt that I had told 84 people I'd be there and set out water stops, but beyond that, I felt my commitment to myself. I realized it is a character-trait that I possess and that it's something I can be proud about. My word is good, and if something about it has to change, I'll try to be clear and honest about it. I'll try.
I then called on my ability to find something positive in this memorable run. And I did. First, I had two gallons of water all to myself. Second, when I needed to make a pit stop I didn't hold anyone up. And third, I got to solve all the problems of my world inside my little brain without having to utter a word. Check. Done.
Some time during mile seven, I made a decision.
No matter how well prepared I am for the Boston Marathon on April 19, 2010, if the weather conditions for that day are comparable to what we had yesterday, I am not doing it. Nope, not going to play. I know, one could ask "Well what about perseverance and commitment and mental toughness?" Yes, I know, and I have those traits.
Here's the reason I would sit out: It's the marathon. It's not a 5K, or a 10K, or even a ten-miler like yesterday. It's a marathon and I respect it. I also respect myself enough to know that I will hurt myself if I tried to do it under such assaulting conditions. During this seventh mile I felt discomfort in ways and places I don't usually feel anything, like in my calves and my Achilles. I could tell toes were unhappy and fingers started getting numb. I'm not willing to hurt (damage) myself for a race, even Boston.
Heck the way my mind was working yesterday....since I was so fit and passed on Boston, perhaps I would run the Sugarloaf Marathon...there I am breaking the tape at the finish line, donning the crown of laurels, winning in a personal best time....
See the benefits of running? You can just do anything.