Ask any runner, new or not, the most difficult part about their love of running and most likely they will say, getting out the door.
I am no different. I absolutely hate leaving the comfort of my bed only to be greeted by the morning stiffness that comes with getting older. I loathe having to stretch and pull and twist and turn, just to get out of bed. I won’t even tell you the gymnastics I have to endure to be able to pull on both a sports bra and compression shorts. Seriously, its like trying to re stuff a sausage into its casing without benefit of one of those handy machines they show off on the cooking channel.
But there are some mornings that are different. Those are the mornings when you open your eyes and just feel like something good is going to happen.
Today was one of those days. Here it is Labor Day and for some odd reason I could feel a breeze through the open window. I dared to peel back an eyelid and discovered that the light in the room was different from the day prior. In fact, the day just sounded wrong.
I did my normal testing of joints, limbs, and various muscles to find that while I am no longer as limber as I would like, I didn’t feel too bad this morning. I grabbed my phone to check the weather and Facebook and was rewarded with fabulous news. It apparently was raining just to the south of my house, the current temperature was in the 60’s and the expected high was to be in the 80s. I live in an area where the we were expecting 95+ degree weather, so this was indeed a wonderful surprise.
Needless to say, I almost flew out the door.
I made my way to the levee as normal. Almost immediately, I could detect the scent of oncoming rain. Tierra mojada. Wet dirt. I could sense the excitement in myself and in the air around me.
Then the voice in my head started to intrude. “You should only go about 6 miles. You have been running a lot and you only need to be ready for a 10K. You can be ready for the half without killing yourself today. You just need to get warmed up …nothing to prove.”
I hate that voice. How does it start? Who gives that naysayer permission to be so bossy? On any other day I would have listened and resigned myself to finish as soon as possible and return home to feast on as my friend Lori would say, “one big ass cinnamon roll.”
There is a way to defeat the voice. Commitment. But you have to make it quickly and irrevocably.
I made it to the levee where I am faced with my first decision. Will I go left or right and how far in either direction? There were moms pushing strollers, men running with dogs, fishermen on the banks and in boats. There were even a few water skiers.
I run on this levee a lot. So much that I know the distance each landmark represents in each direction. The end of the paved road to the left is one mile. The bridge across the river marks mile 3. It’s about 6 miles to the mill. To the right its 2 miles to the boat ramp. Each loop around the parking lot and ramps is .25 of a mile. Two laps adds half a mile to my goal. Running to the next gate after the boat ramp is another mile. Then of course are the return trips from said destinations.
So depending on what I need to do I stand at the top of that levee and decide there and then, how far I will go. Today was no different, except I made a bargain with myself. I would for sure go out three miles and on return, if I felt bad I could go home. On the other hand, if I felt good, I would continue onward to round out 10 miles, perhaps 12 if I felt great. I would do two loops on the ramps no matter what, nonnegotiable.
Once I made that commitment to myself I no longer had to question what I was about to do. I shut that voice down quick and easy and allowed my mind to concentrate on my playlist and the feelings the run brought on as I went.
As I came around the bend I could hear thunder rolling around me. I felt the rain pelt me and then in a down pour, my new shoes slopped on the trail where the pavement ended. I felt my legs get slimy as the lotion I applied earlier was reactivated by the rain. The tracks where trains once traveled began to darken, then shine as the water covered them.
I could see boaters panicking about the rain and the sound of them heading full throttle back to their cars waiting at the park. Their wakes splashed against the banks.
I saw fishermen lining up across the river, pulling rain gear on to keep them a little dryer, but mostly for show, since the temperature was deliciously temperate. As I crossed the bridge, I felt my feet fail to grip the grates that allowed water to drain from the structure. I heard trucks slow as they made room for me on the two lane road.
I made it past the dead opossum to a friend’s winery and was greeted by the smell of breakfast burritos and the soft, furriness of the new barn cat, Felix.
On the way back I ran across three neon yellow-green shirts coming toward me. It was Lori and her two friends. The turned around to go back from where they came, palms upward to the heavens.
“Hey!!!” I yelled, “You can’t quit because of a little rain.” Together we walk/ran at minute intervals for about a mile and half. We talked and compared notes. We yelled at the ski boat pulling her niece along behind it. And we parted at the green belt.
Keeping to my commitment, I ran on to the boat ramp. I completed my loops and after assessing my leg condition, I decided that 10 miles would be enough for one day. I would forgo the last two miles after feeling fatigue setting in.
As I ran back to my house I thought, I’ll probably hit more than ten. As my phone tracking device confirmed my suspicions, I decided to run a few blocks more just to round out my miles up to 11.
Having made the decision to keep running until I hit 11 miles, I began to think that I could have completed 13, but I let that voice catch me unaware. I was so unaware that it sneaked into my decision-making completely undetected. Just a little while earlier I told my friends, when that voice talks ignore it and do what you set out to do. And here I was, completely fooled by it. But then, I left the door open when I said, “I’ll see how I feel.”
I should have said, barring pain, I will complete 13 today. Oh well, you live and learn.
I love running in the rain, it gives me something to think about other than how far I’ve yet to go; it helped me focus on what I was doing and not what I had yet to do. As it should be.
My run was filled with sights, sounds, smells and thoughts that left me feeling alive and happy. I’m planning now, for what to do next time I hear that voice creeping into my head. I hope I can remember to keep all the doors closed.
Thanks for being my friends.