So today I ran a long run as part of my training plan. It really wasn’t even all that long for a full marathon plan, but today those 12 miles felt like 20. I planned to do my run on the Sparta-Elroy bike trail once I got up that morning and realized how warm it was already. Staying up and watching a movie with Ryan until midnight was not the best choice for getting my long run done the next day.
I filled my water bottles in my fuel belt, packed two GU’s (chocolate and mandarin orange), and put my iPhone in my fuel belt. I had a new playlist to listen to and my Runkeeper ready when I arrived in Kendall to start my 12 mile run. I would be running six miles to Elroy and then turning back. The sun was shining bright, but there was a breeze. I hit play, start run, and was off. One mile in I was already soo hot. By mile two I was so sweaty it looked like someone had just hosed me off with water. The sunscreen on my face was melting off completely. I don’t know why sunscreen does this, but it does without fail each summer. I was noticing there wasn’t much shade.
I decided not to turn around in hope that shade would be up ahead. At mile three I was still hoping for shade. My music was just there. It was unbearable with it off, but not motivating with it on. I had already taken three walking breaks AND kept my runkeeper on. I never do that, always pausing and running all my miles. By mile 4 I wanted to quit so badly. I was hating this run. I never stopped thinking about how I was running and how the sun was melting me-literally. I cursed the sun.
I took a GU and felt my mood turn around a bit. I pushed forward. I repeated put one foot in front of the other. Then I thought about posting how hard this run had been for me. By coming up with my thoughts in a post format while running it distracted me from the discomfort I was in. It held me accountable to my training plan. At the end of the run, the only person who really cares if I finished it is me. No one else cares if I walk, cheat, or skip the last six miles (oh, I wanted to). I got to thinking that this run and I were an epic fail.
Then I realized the person I have to deal with in the end is inside me. I hate the feeling of cheating myself, of giving up on something I want when the going gets tough, of not fighting through my own battles-so I didn’t.
Around mile 5 clouds rolled in and blocked the sun. I instantly felt stronger, fell back on pace, and knew I could do this. I began to think about what keeps runners going. Why do we push ourselves? Why do people push through the rough parts of life? I tend to think it’s because of the journey to the end. The feeling of accomplishing a hard task. Of getting past a difficult obstacle. Running has taught me that most things that are hard work are worth it in the end. If something is too easy, then it won’t be that rewarding.
Today I also let myself off the hook. Not as in quit, but allowed myself some wiggle room to finish what I came to do however I needed to. Yes, I walked some which I normally don’t do. I ran really slow for my personal pace. I realized the important thing wasn’t how long it took me to finish, or how many walk breaks I took, or how hard it felt. The important thing was not only that I started, but that I fought past the urge to quit. I embraced the struggle when 91% of me wanted to quit and 9% of me thought I should keep going. I kept putting one foot in front of the other even when I felt like a comment from someone or the wind blowing the wrong way might cause laser beams to shoot out my eyes and melt the nearest person or object like the Wicked Witch of the West (Who as it turns out wasn’t so wicked after all. It’s just no one took the time to learn about her journey of struggles). I kept running when I wished a house would have dropped out of the sky on me. Like I would have been so lucky.
As it turns out I was, well not exactly! Almost as if my will to keep going moved mountains…err, clouds… there was shade! For miles 6 through 10 the sun was blocked by the most glorious clouds ever. I felt like I might actually not collapse. Then even stranger at mile 8 one of my former students, pedaled up next to me on the bike path and said “hi”. He then realized who I was and said he was going to bike next to me until we got to Kendall. Now this student wasn’t just any student; he was a student with a rough home life and who had some special needs. I couldn’t believe how much taller he was. He had come so far. We talked about his bike, how he had moved many times in the past years, his family, and why neither of us has rode a horse before. At each bridge (there were like 8) he stopped because he said “the bike hurts my butt” and then would tell me “don’t worry, I’ll catch up to you.” I wasn’t worried.
Talking with him was just the distraction I needed to keep going. When the sun came back out at mile 10 I know I would have walked if he hadn’t been pedaling next to me. His life has been full of way harder struggles than a 12 mile run partly in the sun. How could I stop running? When we got to Kendall he said it was nice riding with you, let me know where he would be riding tomorrow and what time, and we said our goodbye.
When I was done with my run I could have been mad about my pace, how I felt, the walk breaks I took, but instead I chose to be happy and proud that I kept going! I overcame the urge to quit. The point is, life and runs are full of struggles. The hard parts can get you down if you let them. If you keep pushing on and let people around you help, you can accomplish, overcome, and finish anything. These difficult runs are NOT epic failures, rather they are just what your mind and body need to help you the next time life (or a bike seat) comes along to bite you in the butt.
When I got home and didn’t look so well Ryan just said oh. I started telling him about my run. Then I said I ran to Elroy, and Ryan got this you-know-what eating grin on his face and just laughed. So, of course I stopped talking and asked him what he thought was so funny. He then stated, “You said you were running to Wilton. If you had said you were running to Elroy I would have told you there was NO shade the entire way.” I had accidentally said Wilton to him that morning, the entire reason for this uncomfortable run. Ryan thought it was so funny. Glad he got to laugh about it because I wasn’t laughing at all that morning.
In the end, I did get the last laugh as I got a reminder about some important life lessons out there on the bike path today.