When I first got ‘serious’ about running last year (basically when I committed to running my first half marathon), I used to absolutely DREAD my weekly long run. There was nothing more torturous in my world than running for more than an hour by myself. Seriously. I think I would rather eat brussel sprouts! I remember the first time I ran an 8-mi distance. I got to 5-mi, and my husband met me to run the last 3-mi with me. I was absolutely shattered after that distance, not entirely certain how I would ever make it to 13.1!
And somehow I added another mile on the next week. And another one again the following week. Before I knew it, I had accomplished a 13.1 mi training run! I got heat exhaustion in the process, but that’s a story for another day.
Now 13. 1 mi is just another training run–and an ‘easy’ one at that.
So yesterday, as I laced up my shoes for my Sunday long run of 15-16 mi., I thought about how good it felt to be back after basically a month off of running a long run. I had the butterflies of anticipation going (as I usually do before I hit the pavement–what if I can’t do it, what if I don’t feel good, what if I hurt myself, etc), which made me feel almost ‘normal’ in the routine. I started off feeling good, but a bit sluggish overall–between the heat and 15mph headwinds, I was slowed down rather quickly from my starting pace. But who cared?? I wasn’t there to win anything. I just wanted to finish. And I can’t believe I am saying this, but I wanted to also ENJOY the time on the pavement, just me, by myself!
You see, somewhere along the way in the last few months, I have started to really look forward to my Sunday long runs. The quiet I have, the sense of not having to be anywhere or doing anything has given me a great feeling of relaxation and enjoyment for this sport. It is time to think, to contemplate, to plan, and even time for me to listen to an audiobook. This is my time, and I have no where to be except on the pavement, wherever my feet take me.
And when it gets tough and I want to stop or think about calling for a pick up? I start talking to myself and reminding myself that every step I take is a blessing and a step closer to my goal of a full marathon. By doing this, I have helped myself push through a difficult or uninspired moment. I think of my friend’s mom, who passed away from ALS and couldn’t walk for years from the disease. I think of members of the group IR4 and all they have to struggle through on a daily basis–with no end in sight for their challenges. They simply can’t stop. They don’t have that luxury. I think of my friend Kristi, who has arthritis and isn’t as able to move without pain in her body. All these people would love to have even an hour to run the way I do. And all I can think about is stopping? Not a chance! Every step truly is a blessing for me. And before I know it, I have gotten through that moment and I try to achieve an even bigger goal. Last night, I originally thought I would go 15 mi. I ended up at 16 mi.
Because as a runner, I have realized that I am stronger than I realize. And there is more in me than I may ever know. And what a powerful thing that is to have–untapped potential just waiting for the moment when it can be released.