The thing I love most about Spring is how everything comes back to life. Every year I anxiously look for the little buds poking their heads out of the ground and the flowers to appear from the fruit trees and for the color to come back to the grass. The wonders of nature never get old to me. Every year I think how amazing it is that the plants and flowers just come back to life after dying off just a few months ago.
This Spring, along with the flowers and foliage, something else is coming back to life: the runner in me. (I know, you could just vomit from the cheeziness, right?!)
For a long time now, the joys of running haven’t been there. Don’t get me wrong, I never lost love for the social aspects of running. Long runs with friends on the lakefront talking about everything from current events to work to politics is something I will always happily get out of bed for. Also the thrill of running in a new place I am visiting has never stopped being enjoyable to me. And the exhilaration of crossing a finish line will never ever get old. But the solo runs I had to do as part of my training to get me to those finish lines have felt more like a chore than anything else.
A couple of weeks ago when I started this current marathon training program, the realization of how out of shape I was took away from any joy I could have mustered up for each run. Even the short runs felt too challenging to be enjoyed.
But I really feel like I am getting stronger with every run and every workout. Each one has felt less challenging than the last. Then one night last week, the feeling hit me: I’m kind of enjoying this. The next night, I couldn’t wait to get home from work and lace up my shoes.
Yesterday Lisa and I headed out to “Badwater of the Midwest.” Lisa’s not training, so she planned to run with me for about five of my planned 11 miles. We decided I would do my solo six first.
As I have mentioned here many times before, any run for which I can wear my trail shoes is going to be a good run. The terrain is so much kinder of my knees and ankles. It had also stopped raining less than an hour before we started out, so trail shoes AND mud? Yes, please!
Unlike the past few runs I have done for which I felt like it took me two miles to warm up, I felt great from the start of the run. I was taking hills without slowing my pace and didn’t feel overexerted in the least. The forest preserves were the greenest green I have ever seen, the air smelled fresh and the temperatures were perfect. It was the best runner’s high I think I have ever experienced and I was running solo. Life felt great and at that moment I had a hard time believing how much fun I was having. Nine miles later I was dying … But let’s get back to unicorns and rainbows, shall we?
I know I haven’t trained properly for a race in several years. I’ve been working with a sort of gambling/training program – let’s see how little training I can safely get away with. This time around, I am enjoying the voyage. I like feeling stronger every week. I like the shape my body is starting to take both figuratively and literally. Maybe instead of euphoria at crossing the finish line, June 2 will feel more the end of a fun vacation and I’ll be sorry to see the journey end.
Totals for the week:
Total miles: 22
Number of runs: 4
Longest run: 11 miles
Cross-training: 2 sessions of strength training on the BowFlex
Number of black toenails: still 1, but it hasn’t fallen off yet (fingers crosses that it won’t)
Weight: -3 pounds