The sky was grey and full of winter. The air was still and cold.
I decided to try an old route I haven’t seen since last Spring – a 17-mile quiet stretch of countryside with gentle rolling hills and a section of dirt road that is my little secret.
The first 6 miles kept me interested with a busy mind reviewing recent events and with a heart that remained open and full. The next third took me through tiny towns – past a church, a winery, and an abandoned overgrown nursery for sale. Then, a quick turn onto my favorite road to nowhere that led me to an historic landmark with through-access available only to pedestrians. The soft ground was magic for my legs and restored a bouncing energy that carried me all the way home.
While my legs grow stronger, the mental challenge of my 18-week marathon training schedule begins. Today, I believed I could have run 9.2 more miles. But how fast could I go? The lung-burning, groin-pulling hell of a marathon race can make a well-trained runner want to quit at mile 3 and bring her to tears at the halfway point. Doubt. Fear. They can’t win.
The mind begins to play games – counting miles and performing mathematical calculations and comparisons. One tenth of a mile – the distance between the end of the block and my house. One quarter of a mile – the distance from the entrance of my neighborhood to my driveway. One and a half miles – the distance from my house to the end of the paved bike path. Five miles – one short country loop that I’ve run probably 100 times. Eight miles – the Harker Road loop.
I can do those distances. I know them like the back of my hand. Everything gets broken down to into smaller chunks that I tell myself I can do. I know what every mile feels like and what landmarks mark them out.
I tell myself when I’m 1/4 of the way. One half. Two-thirds. And when I get to the last 5 miles, I know I’m just one short country loop from the finish line.
But mostly it’s Coach’s mantras that run incessantly through my head when I feel like I can’t go on. I’m a thoroughbred. Titanium. Go win.
I am… a badass.