There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting. ~Buddha
This journey I have been on to cross the finish line of a marathon really isn’t about the marathon. It is and it isn’t. The end goal is to run 26.2 miles, but the joy comes from the process. The learning comes from all the hours I’ve dedicated to running since I decided I wanted to conquer this distance. Today my run took me into new territory for the first time in this training cycle. Twenty miles were written on my training plan.
I’ve been babying a very angry hip since my 18 mile run. It’s ached. It’s been uncomfortable. It’s spread into my leg causing me to have a few private freak outs about stress fractures and injuries (again). I’ve been tiptoeing around my training. I ran an easy 10+ miles last weekend to test it out. It survived. I nursed it again all this week. Friday night I attending my yin yoga class. In a weird crazy bend your legs in opposite directions while seated, twist, and touch your head to the floor behind you pose, my left hip let out a scream. I modified and settled into the pose comfortable. For several minutes we sat in this pose, breathing, and sinking into it deeper. It touched the very spot that has been hurting for weeks. Post-yoga, my hip pain was gone. It only resurfaced slightly this morning as I set out to run.
My first 7 miles I ran solo. I hit the trails for a mental release. As I made my way towards the boat ramp, I came face to face with another runner. A small river separated us and blocked the trail. After a lot of search, neither one of us could find anything to create a temporary bridge. He took a leap of faith to a log and carefully walked to my side. I could do it too. He was much taller than me, and his legs were twice as long, but I could do it. I crossed the log and crossed my fingers. My leap of faith almost worked. I fell just short resulting in one very wet right shoe. At mile three of a 20 mile training run, I couldn’t worry about it too much. It had 17 miles to dry. At mile 5 on the trails, I came to another closed trail. High tide had washed it away. I decide to call it quits on the trails at this point since I was spending a lot of time thinking and coming up with alternative routes to mud puddles and missing trails.
At mile 7, my friend Rachael joined me for the rest of my run. We ran through a neighborhood I’ve never explored. I think I found the only hills in Virginia Beach. I think I also found my future training route when I’m preparing for my hilly half-marathon in Nashville. The next 10 miles flew by. She brought the most delicious orange with her that she shared. She saved me when I realized I was starving and forgot my fuel in my car. She held my extra stuff in the stroller she was pushing (Yes! She pushed her son the whole way! Super woman!). She kept me going (and talking and smiling) on this 20 mile run.
I’m at a cycle right now in my training where miles are becoming mentally tough. I’m having a hard time finding excitement leaving the house for 3+ hours of running. Once my feet are on the road, I’m okay. I’ve been training almost completely solo this time. I’ve experienced so many emotion filled runs in the past few months. I’ve carried the weight of loss and grief and sadness. This run was light. It was comforting. The miles started to get tough around mile 17, but I’ve shed everything that holds me back. There was no I can’t, what if I don’t, maybe I shouldn’t. Although I’ve hit a mental wall (for now), I’ve also transition to a place of just doing. I ran 20 miles because I can run 20 miles. Having my friend run with me gave me back the ability to enjoy every mile for what it was – easy and hard.
Today’s run, like every run so far, was exactly what I needed. I conquered 20 miles. I enjoyed the companionship of a good friend. I dismissed my worries about injury and not finishing this journey. I am doing it. One mile at a time. I am doing it. My marathon is right around the corner.
20.01 miles in 3:31:01 (10:33 pace) on trails, through a hilly neighborhood, and along the beach.
(Normally I don’t put much value on my moving pace versus average pace, but since today I spent a lot of time standing and thinking, I think it’s worth noting. Average Moving Pace: 10:19)