This weekend fast approached me with the knowledge that I had a long run to do on Sunday. I was planning on going 12 miles. To some 12 miles sounds crazy far and to others it seems like a warm up. I was indifferent. I don’t know why but I just wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I just knew I was scheduled to do it. And, I was going to have to dig deep for some mental toughness.
I made all the right preperations. I made sure I was hydrated and well rested and went to bed early Saturday night. I had a peaceful nights sleep and I woke up at 5:00am. I felt great and ready to go. I should have just gotten up and did it then. However, my plan was to leave at 6:00am and I wanted to stick to my plan. An hour passed and I was on the road and on schedule with my running partner. She was going 8 miles today so I knew I would have to dig deep and find my strong all on my own. As we headed out it was peaceful. Just like I like it. Quiet, cloudy, cool and still dark. I love heading out before the rest of the runners while the world still sleeps. One of my favorite things is coming home they are just leaving. It makes me feel like they look at me and know my struggles and sacrifices when they see me on the way back. The first few miles went well with a light mist to keep us cool. I made my usually 3 mile stop at Whataburger and used the restroom (the joys of being an athlete with Crohn’s disease). I don’t think the manager there likes me much cause I never buy anything and I just use his restroom. But I guess he should be grateful I am not going in his bushes. By the time I walked out CIndy had caught up. She was waiting on me cause she didn’t know her whole route. Little did she know she was just minutes from her turn around point. We ran a little longer together and parted ways. It was an ideal place to split since I didn’t know the neighborhood well and I wasn’t bored easily since I had new scenery to look at. This is the point though where not many people realize the loneliness of the endurance athlete. Before I knew it I was back on familiar ground and running through the down town area. The streets were empty and the rain had been getting progressively stronger. I didn’t think I’d see anyone but I saw about 4 homeless people walking from the shelter. It made me feel guilty that I chose to be out in this weather and they were forced out into it. I wanted to run over to them and take them all to breakfast but I just don’t have the ability to do that these days. Maybe one day my dream of being a philanthropist will come true. Until then I guess I’ll just have to do my daily good deed. I eventually made my way back North (back home) and in my mind my run got easier. I knew I was finishing this up. I finally got into “the zone” at about mile 6 and I was just jogging up the road at a nice steady pace. Finally not thinking, I was just going. I didn’t even notice the rain anymore. I was where I wanted and needed to be until I was almost hit by a car. I am not mad about it at all. This was my fault instead of paying attention I was just zoned out and ran across the intersection. The driver of the car was happy to tell me I should have stopped (not very nicely I may add). I turned around and thanked him and told him he was right and said something to the effect of thanks for looking out for me or reminding me to pay attention. He was shocked. I think he was ready for a confrontation. I just kept on going hoping to get back in my easy stride. At 8 miles I stopped at a convenience store and bought a water and I realized I was totally soaked. I don’t know if it was the rain or sweat. I left the store and I knew I only had about 3 – 4 miles left. The run was going as planned but I was a few minutes behind pace. I didn’t let it bother me. Probably because I didn’t know my exact distance. Eventually I saw Cindy around mile 9ish and she had a Gatorade for me. It was great having a support wagon set up. She was stopped by a donut place and it smelled heavenly. As I left her to finish the run she asked if I wanted a donut. I said no and kept on going. The problem was I did want a donut! and now all I could think of was chocolate glazed donuts. For the next mile I turned into Homer Simpson. I may have even said mmmmm donuts a few times out loud. I made a few more turns and I was in the final stretch soaked and starving. I was glad to finish the run and I felt accomplished but it wasn’t the run I had hoped for.
So many times my runs relieve me of stress and I feel as though I had a cathartic moment out on the roads. Sunday’s run was physically demanding and mentally challenging for me. I had to dig deep and motivate myself through it but I hadn’t felt as though I had grown or changed any. This week I will begin my taper for my upcoming half marathon so I will stick to my training plan and do my best to succeed and remain positive. I really want this whole experience to be a positive one for me. I know in a couple weeks I will be running with a crowd but the herd will thin and it will be up to me to perform on my own. The fact is even when I run with someone I still run alone.