It’s Monday morning and the endorphins have worn off from another long weekend of training. My legs are tired and my shoulders are sore, but there is a joy even in the discomfort — a sense of accomplishment and the kind of peace that comes from doing things which make you happy.
Saturday, my scheduled long bike ride went on tour, going to Auburn, N.Y. where a baby shower was being held for my sister-in-law and brother. More mixed-gender party than girlie show, the location and style allowed me to do my four-hour bike ride on a new route. Thanks to my brother who helped me plot by 16-mile loop I was ready to pound out my ride before the festivities began.
The route began with a long, gradual climb then had a series of gentle rolling hills which were more down than up as the road circled around toward Cayuga Lake. The return portion of the loop then included rolling hills which had more climbing and few short, steep peaks.
I loved the route. It was challenging but not discouraging. It was a series of four right turns and no stopping in between to break up momentum. The road quality was great. Traffic was light. And while I didn’t get to talk to any horses, I did get to have some conversations with cows. I passed several historical markers on the route and returned to take pictures (mostly because really, how many times do you get to see an historical marker about a bar?) and smiled the majority of the time.
I wanted to ride hard for some reason, and I did, holding the same a steady, solid pace I had previously when riding a flat route. The unfortunate part came later, when I realized that I had gone hard and was trying to be social at the party. Interesting and coherent thoughts were having difficulty forming in my brain and when they did, it was just as difficult for them to travel from my brain to my mouth.
Saturday night, Mark asked me if I had my route picked out for my 20-mile run the next day.
I was going to think about that in the morning.
I didn’t know what to expect, so I just headed out with my sports drink and gels. I let go of any notion of pace. I let go of the need to run every hill. Just get the miles in. That was all that mattered.
Making the executive decision to not wear my rain jacket was the best move of the day as the 93 percent humidity was quickly leeching all water and nutrients from my body anyway. The first four miles felt great. The next mile was tough as I had to go to the bathroom. I probably could have waited, but once the thought was in my head, that was all I could think about. God bless the Tim Horton’s I passed on my route.
Life got a bit better, though the sun started to come out, the temperature got warmer and the humidity stayed high. So instead of stopping every four miles, I started stopping every two miles to grab a bit of drink. Once I hit Mile 13 the pain started and my focus shifted to the mile I was on with my reward being a 30 second walk break and a sip of Gatorade.
As Mile 18 approached, my smile started to appear again. Two more miles. Really?
The longest run of my life was the Buffalo Marathon in 2008.
This would be the second longest run of my life, and my longest training run ever.
And that I would celebrate in my head for a little bit. Sure there were places I could have done better, but that’s not to think about right after the run. Right after the run is the time to think about all the things which went right, to celebrate every little detail that was good.
If only I could hold on to that wisdom all the time.
Perhaps the wisdom will soak in after the aches in my body subside a bit. When I can walk downstairs a bit more gracefully and not dream of ice baths.