When the alarm clock sounded on Saturday morning, my feet sprung into action. There was plenty to do — get my running gear together, pack a change of clothes and all things needed to cover three high school boys soccer playoff games and start making my tried-and-true pre-long workout breakfast of oatmeal and coffee.
Because I was so preoccupied with busy work, the dread didn’t have time to linger over my body. Instead, it bolted to the front of my consciousness as I packed the car with gear for the day.
Saturday’s workout was a 14-mile run. I had uttered that sentence with a matter-of-fact attitude all week. It wasn’t until 30 minutes before the start of said run that it dawned on me :
Fourteen miles! This is a long run. This is the longest run I’ve done since the Ironman. This is, wait, how do I do this again?
And my mind continued:
Am I going to finish my run with enough time to shower and eat and get to work? And what about Sunday? I have a two-hour bike ride and a game to cover at St. Bonaventure. And, oh wow, brain pain.
I met up with running friends Sue and Nicole and shared my dread. Naw, you’ll be fine, they said. It’s an easy run.
Indeed, there was no pace work, just a long, slow run. But Sue picked a route with plenty of hill work in the first five miles and the negative thoughts came in waves as Sue and Nicole trotted ahead and I fell back, trying to get re-accustomed to running with my Nathan fuel belt carrying my water bottle and Clif shot blocks. (Of course I remembered to bring these only after Sue had mentioned that I might want to bring water with me. That’s how out of touch I was with the long run.)
At Mile 7 I started thinking I had to go to the bathroom. Luckily for me, we had passed Chestnut Ridge Park and I quickly ducked into the casino. Granted, this was after I had some internal debate over whether I really needed to go, if it would be good training for to try and wait or if could wait until I got up the road three miles further then finish off the last four miles. Since the bathroom debate was taking over my thought process and I was starting to feel slightly uncomfortable, the halfway-point potty break won out.
It was smooth sailing after that, in part because I took care of the bathroom issue, and quickly at that. But it also was because as my brain tried to engage, as the gremlins wanted to come out to play, I turned my attention elsewhere. I ran happier. I ran strong. I ran an easy pace — working yet not pushing myself. The distance was my challenge today. It wasn’t until the 13th mile when I started to really feel tired and that fact made me smile. I finished in a state of gratitude.
Oh my mind was at it again on Sunday as it tried to talk me out of doing my bike ride on the trainer upon returning from covering an afternoon men’s basketball at St. Bonaventure. I was tired from the weekend to be sure, but did my body really need the break? Or was it just mental fatigue. I hopped on the trainer with the theory that something is better than nothing, prepared to hop off if I felt bad at any point.
But funny thing: I stayed on for the two hours and felt pretty darn good afterward.
All weekend, my brain wanted to know the answer to how. How was I going to get through a 14 mile long run? How was I going to run the hills? How was I going to finish? How was I going to get my bike ride? How was I going to get everything I wanted?
What I discovered this weekend is that sometimes, the answer to “how” is simply, “yes.”