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. 

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