Yesterday I completed my final 20-mile run before beginning to taper for my next marathon. Let me tell you, I earned the rest and relaxation I’m milking today.
When I planned for this run earlier in the week, the weather was forecasted to be in the mid-50s, partly sunny, and no chance of rain. Surprise! I awakened to a cold, dreary, and wet fall day, and was immediately tempted to postpone my run until today. Instead, I got dressed and ate my oatmeal mixed with Chia seeds, milk, and sugar. Craig got dressed in much warmer-looking gear than I was wearing, and when we went outside, the slap in the face cold made me wonder if I would be warm enough. I reminded myself that I had worn the same gear in 30-below weather and was plenty warm. We loaded up Craig’s bike, jumped into the truck, and were on our way. As I gazed out the window, I pondered again whether I should make it a shorter run and save the long run for tomorrow, and Craig reminded me how great I always feel getting it done, and that we were already geared to go. I agreed, and we proceeded as planned. We went to a local trail, only this time, we parked at a different location because Craig wanted to go in further and see where we ended up.
When we arrived, it was just beginning to drizzle. We had checked the radar, and while it was a 30 percent chance of rain, there didn’t appear to be anything headed our way. I don’t mind running in the rain, but on a 20-miler, I’d prefer not to have the extra heaviness if I can help it. I did a quick warm-up, and we were off.
The trail was wet and muddy, but I was able to dodge the worst parts. I warmed up in no time, and set into a comfortable pace. The rain was off and on, just enough to leave a few wet spots on my clothing. The wind was at our backs, and the only part of me that was chilled was my face, which I love. It was a peaceful fall day, and I ran without my music, enjoying the conversation and sounds of nature.
Deeper and deeper we disappeared into the trail, passing through both wooded and open field areas. It was beautiful, with the colored trees glistening in the sun, rain drops falling from the leaves. My sweet husband carried my Gatorade in his backpack, and rode alongside me so loyally, just as he has on many of my past long runs.
We talked about life, our plans for the rest of the day, what was for dinner, took in the scenery, wondered where we were, and just enjoyed each other’s company. We pointed out our favorite views and took a few pictures, both to capture the moments and because I love candids.
The farther we went, I began to feel somewhat unnerved. I’ve been reading so many disturbing articles about the dangers runners encounter, both in the evil human form and wildlife encounters.
There were certain areas we passed through that made me feel that “hair standing on end,” uncomfortable feeling. One in particular was around mile nine,where there was an old, seemingly abandoned, rundown house surrounded by 30 or more old, beat-up cars and trucks. While I’m not a judgmental person with respects to people who enjoy collecting vehicles and other novelties in their yards, this place looked scary to me. It didn’t help that there was a large figure looking out the window at us as we passed by. It was something out of Wrong Turn, that horror film about cannibalistic, mutated hillbillies who prey on people who pass through an infrequently traveled road in the mountains of southern West Virginia. This prompted me to thank Craig for his grand idea to come into unchartered territory, and say that we may end up being dinner. He thought this was funny, and said he was going to take a break from the bike and wait for me here. I pressed on, checking to ensure my stun gun was still operating, and before I knew it, I was at mile 10 and my turnaround point. I made a U-turn and began my return to Craig, hoping I wouldn’t see anyone waiting with giant forks and knives. As I approached him, I saw the storm cloud up ahead just as the rain began to fall.
Hoping it would pass by just as the earlier drizzle spots had, I kept running, faster and faster. There’s something about making it to the 10-mile mark that makes me come alive, hungry for the finish. The rain kept coming, getting heavier with each step, almost to the point I could hardly see in front of me. The trail got muddier, and soon the puddles were unavoidable, causing me to slide. Mud flew up onto the backs of my legs, sticking to my shoes to make my feet feel dreadfully heavy. Needless, to say, I started to get frustrated.
I called upon every motivational thought I could find. Life throws you obstacles so you can overcome them and become stronger. This is another one. You can do this. Blinking through the water that pelted my face, and pushing through the winds that were now blowing towards me, nearly knocking me over, frustration turned to annoyance. I was drenched and freezing, and this was no short run where I wouldn’t mind getting caught in the rain. It was 20 miles! I looked over at Craig, who was blinking under his hood that now covered his head. I checked on my stun gun, which stops working when it gets wet. Sure enough, it only buzzed, which didn’t help my annoyance. WTH?! I know life is full of trials and tests, but I’m not in the mood for this.
The rain didn’t let up until well into mile 14, but at that point, it wasn’t helping to get angry. I turned my thoughts to positive images of relaxing at home, warm pajamas, blankets, and hot tea. Eventually, the sky began to clear up ahead, and there was almost some light making its way through the clouds. Around mile 18, thoughts that always accompany my tapering period filled my head. All the work you’ve put into your training has come to a head. Will it be enough? Will you reach your goal? In three weeks, you’ll find out. I’ll be happy just to PR.
We made it back to the truck just in time for the sun to come out and warm us. I saved my mapmyrun, then walked and stretched to cool down. I was so relieved to be done (and be back in one piece). We took a few pictures,
and then headed home to where the ibuprofen, dinner, hot shower, warm clothes, fluffy blankets, and Bella awaited us. We spent the rest of the day having a well-deserved relaxation party in front of the TV.
P.S. This is my second attempt at this post. My first somehow disappeared after an hour of writing. I’m proud to say I didn’t overreact as I did during my trail drowning yesterday. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. 😉