When the ugly run understands its own beauty

The ugly run.

This was shaping up to be an ugly run. I can’t remember the last time I did hill repeats. My last block of marathon training was very much about mileage, getting to the start line healthy and finding a way to the finish line. So speed and strength work in my run workouts wasn’t a priority. In fact, I may have sidestepped that a bit too much.

Then my recovery turned into a month, thanks to my usual post-season illness. Getting back into a training groove was difficult. I had gotten out of the habit. And while I’d like to think of myself as a glorious spontaneous creature (I do have my moments) habit is where I normally live, so I take care to create ones that serve what I want in life.

So back to training.

To create my training habit, I needed a goal race to get me through the winter. This was a difficult proposition with my work schedule, but I found that Around the Bay 30K would fit. It would be snug, but it would fit. The race has been on my bucket list since I started running and once I had registered for it, but gave myself a concussion in the shower and had my first “Did Not Start” on my resume. (More on that at a later time.)

The 18-or-so-mile course is hilly and the race takes place March in Hamilton, Ontario which means it’s difficult with the strong likelihood of bad weather. Perfect. I picked up a marathon plan I had used with some success in the past and modified it to prepare me for Around the Bay.
Which is what brought me to Lewiston on a cold, blustery, January morning.

It was a day for hill work, and while I didn’t entirely understand how to execute the workout on my plan, I knew what the intention of it was – get in about 5 miles and run hills repeats. My route took me through Artpark over to Center Street where I ran up and down the Barton Hill three times. I was dragging. I was slow. I was struggling a bit with the cold and with the hill. I was thinking how ugly this run must look.

Crossing the street at the top of the hill for my lovely return to the bottom, I passed a shop window with an item on display that boldly proclaimed the phrase “Be Your Own Beautiful.”

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Ugly run? Says who? To me, this run was beautiful. It was hard and challenging and I was slow. There were plenty of reasons why it was hard and challenging (mostly because it was supposed to be) and why I was slow (see earlier in this entry) but did it really matter? I was out here. I was challenging myself. I was getting stronger. I was having fun. My clothes were total mismatched hodgepodge of running gear designed to keep me warm. Combine that with my awkward and sometimes laboring form and I was the furthest thing from a running magazine cover girl.

But you know what? It felt beautiful anyway.

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