In celebration of the slow and ugly

The run was ugly.

Then again, I knew it would be. I was prepared for it to be slow and clunky and just not all that pretty.

And in some ways, that’s what made it such a great run.

After battling through my last 70.3 on a sprained left foot, my training was shut down for two weeks partly for regular race recovery and partly to heel the injury. I could swim as much as I wanted. The first week that was, um, a grand total of zero yards while last week I accumulated 5,000 very ugly meters in the pool. Better than nothing, I thought.

Ah, but Sunday brought a test run and after 25 minutes of an easy run up and down a dead-end street my foot felt just fine. The swelling is gone. The bruising has faded. And now we begin again — another build, this time for the second 70.3 event of the year in the form of Musselman in Geneva, N.Y.

This morning, I returned to the run. Another 5:30 a.m. start with Sue. There was frost on the ground as the sun started to rise. Back to the basics and an easy 10K run, with the emphasis on easy. We ran one of our typical village routes, which included some small hills and inclines — just enough to work hard, be annoying and be totally worth it. Sue and I talked about running, her latest half marathon in Chicago, her upcoming race in Delaware and my upcoming trip to San Francisco for Bay to Breakers.

It had been a while since Sue and I shared an early morning run and I had almost forgotten what an amazing time of day it is. Granted, we both started whining when we hit the five mile mark, but overall, the time flew by. The company got us through the run, made us smile, pushed us each a little further. My run was slow and ugly by standard measurements but qualitatively it felt good. It felt good to be back out on the road, back out running, back chatting with a good friend.

As I expected, there is much work to do. A proper recovery does that. You gain weight. You lose some speed and perhaps a little bit of endurance. But it comes back a bit quicker each time. In two weeks I didn’t stray too far from base. Now, it’s just a matter of convincing my mind that slow and ugly and fat feeling will leave soon enough — actually they will leave whenever I chose to leave them stranded at the roadside. Such is the power of my own thoughts, if I choose to use it for good instead of inducing craziness. And let’s face it, I can ill afford much additional craziness, especially the self-induced kind.

So, three cheers for the slow, ugly run this morning. Because it’s a sign that I recovered properly. It’s a sign my body has healed.

It’s a sign I’m ready to go and see what I can do in my next great adventure.

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