I'm officially smack dab in the middle of my marathon training schedule and as the miles pile up, so do the doubts. Along with that comes the inevitable hesitation to actually get my ass out the door. On the other side of those feelings are the highs that come from overcoming fears and satisfaction from knowing I didn't give in and stay in bed, but it's not easy to get there. This morning was like that.
I heard my alarm and, in the dark of early morning, found myself wishing I'd pressed the snooze button in a sleepy haze, not realizing my mistake until it was too late to go. I paused a moment or two, keeping my eyes closed a little longer than I normally do considering, for a moment, the fact that today's run could easily be skipped without any repercussions. Tuesdays are an "easy" day and on busy weeks I've been known to drop a Tuesday run. In the grand scheme of the training, skipping a workout here and there won't affect my end goal. I just want to cross that finish line and as long as I steadily amp up the mileage in the weeks leading up to October 13th, my grit and determination will most likely get me to the end. I know that's not good enough for me though, and that knowledge is what gets me to ignore the nagging voice telling me to sleep in.
I rolled out of bed and into the bathroom to put on the running clothes I'd set out last night. Zoe still comes into our room most nights to sleep on a sleeping bag on the floor between our bed and closet. I've learned from experience that if I don't get my running clothes out the night before, I have a really great excuse to listen to the nagging voice and go back to bed instead of go for a run. I don't want to wake the kids any earlier than they naturally do themselves, especially if it would mean I'd be leaving Nathan to get up before 6am with them so I can go for a run. So, I've learned from experience to set my clothes out the night before.
After suiting up, I headed out the door to our garden. Watering the garden before my morning run has become a ritual this summer and I know I'll miss it when the season passes. I love having a relaxing stop to make before setting out to pound the pavement. Sometimes I notice a few weeds and pull them before running off and once in a while I decide to skip my run completely in order to pull every single weed I can find. I haven't done that since before starting my training but not surprisingly, I found myself considering that option this morning. I compromised and pulled the biggest ones I saw without looking too hard and forced myself to move along.....
...and I'm so glad I did. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have been able to experience the rare feeling of speed and swiftness I felt during my run this morning. If I hadn't gone running I wouldn't have been able to see it's possible to feel light on my feet on a run only a few days after running the farthest I've ever run (15.23 miles!)...which led me to realize there have been many days I've been grateful to have forced myself out the door..many experiences that would have passed me by if I'd listened to the nagging voice...many moments of clarity would have stayed buried...many opportunities to set a positive example for my kids would have been missed...if I hadn't gone running.
If I hadn't gone running, I wouldn't have been able to run through "Prairie Dog Town" and witness the new babies with their families warming themselves in the rising sun. Standing on their hind legs in groups of 4 or 5, quietly facing the orange glow and allowing it to paint the fronts of their bodies, all but putting their front paws around each others shoulders, greeting the new day in quiet reverence.
If I hadn't gone running, I would have missed out on one of the most magical moments of my life. One day last summer, I was struggling in the late morning heat when I happened to glance to my right at Boulder Creek. Through a small opening in the trees, about 20 feet away from where I was, stood a Great Blue Heron taking a break from flying to catch a couple of fish from the ice cold water. I had never seen one in person and was struck by it's size and beauty. It's legs thin and delicate yet perfectly designed and I couldn't help but feel it was there for me. I watched, holding my breath until it decided to fly away and perhaps try another fishing spot further up the creek. I took the energy it had given me and got myself home.
If I hadn't gone running, I wouldn't know that rabbits tend to come out early in the morning before the rush of people. Almost every morning, I send 3 or 4 hopping away in a frenzy....I also wouldn't have witnessed the deer being escorted across the street a few weeks ago by a police car. Two bucks, ambling along quietly as the police car and I patiently waited our turn to go our separate ways.
If I hadn't gone running, I wouldn't be experiencing the satisfaction that comes from modeling a healthy lifestyle for my kids. I love that they know I'm a runner and understand it's hard and something to be proud of. Sometimes after a particularly challenging run, I'll come in our patio door and am treated to a little crowd of adoring fans cheering for me and my accomplishment.
If I hadn't gone running, I would have felt guilty for having that chocolate milkshake, that nice big breakfast bagel or that extra piece of chocolate cake. Sometimes all I need to get me through the end of a long run is the promise of an extra treat when I get home.
If I hadn't gone running, I wouldn't be able to face the still regularly occurring question: "Are you pregnant?" knowing these same clueless people would most likely have to pick their jaws up off the floor if I told them I can run for 3+ hours without stopping. It takes the sting out to imagine these same people admiring me for that, wishing they could be as healthy as I am.
If I hadn't gone running I'd miss out on the daily connection I feel to faraway friends and family who also challenge themselves through exercise. I am lucky that I have an endless supply of inspiration in my immediate circle of people and every time I'm out there huffing and puffing I draw upon their strength and spirit to help me feel supported, encouraged and strong.
Tomorrow is a new day. One that will most definitely include that nagging voice. It always does, but as I enter into this second half of my training I will work harder to remind myself of these things I listed above. I have a handful of runs that upon first glance seem at best intimidating and at worst impossible. I am going to do my best to look at those numbers on that sheet of paper I have hanging on my kitchen wall as opportunities. Opportunities to experience pockets of time and fleeting moments that I don't want to miss..that I can't miss...that are special because I got my ass out of bed and went running.