I’m on my way up! This week I had to increase my long run to 10 miles. In last weekend’s hot and muggy weather, I ran 9 in Chicago. No, I did not enjoy it although I did enjoy having my friend Sally with me. It’s not often I get running partners these days. The hot, sweaty miles dripped off much faster with good conversation and a few laughs.
So Jessica challenged me with 10-miles this week. However …. I’m going backpacking this weekend. I do not want to run 10 miles on Saturday morning and then go hiking, so I decided I might try a long run before work. Nine miles took a little over 2 hours, so 10 would take even longer. The math told me I’d need to start no later than 4:30 AM to get it done and get ready for work.
I went to bed at 8:30 last night determined to get a good night’s sleep. But first I googled to see if any other idiots ever attempted a long run before work. Sure enough, several bloggers had written about it, so I fell asleep with the confidence that it was doable. I even gave myself permission to split it in two if I desired.
I woke up on my own at 3:30 AM and considered it a gift. I had time to drink a cup of coffee and leave at 4 AM, giving me a little more time to get ready for work. Ashok and I took off in complete darkness. I ran a 5.5 mile circle and dropped my girl off at home so I could finish the rest on my own. After a quick restroom break, I started out again, and my body was begging me to go back home. But I remembered from my past running career that this feeling would pass. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
The sun was just starting to come up, and I ran down to the beach. A great blue heron waded in the lake. As a little blessing it started sprinkling, and I was thinking how nice it was to feel cool raindrops on my skin. It wasn’t too hot, but it was hot enough with all the running. I rounded the corner by the fountain, and I noticed a faint rainbow over Lake Michigan. With only a hint of color, it was perfect and whole. It framed the path ahead of me. Wow…. I thought to myself. If I had not done this, I would have missed it.
The rainbow got a bit brighter as I felt a happy burst of energy. Two deer headed out on the beach at the park. I’d never seen deer on the beach although I assumed they probably drank there. They looked at me as I came closer, and they headed down toward the water. The sand sloped into the lake, and I could only see their faces and ears as they watched my every move. I stopped to take a picture, and a fellow runner said, “Are you taking a picture of the rainbow or the deer?”
“Both,” I answered back with a smile on my face. And just think, if I had turned back toward home, I would have missed this.
I almost ran over a bunny in my subdivision who waited too long to run away. We startled each other as it leaped out in front of me. Orange exploded into the sky as the sun began its ascent. Other runners began to pass me as it got later in the morning. Traffic picked up, and by the time I got home, my neighbor was out walking his dog.
Had I decided to run on the treadmill instead, I would have missed that lovely little rainbow. If I had only run 5 miles, I would have never seen the bunny or the deer. If I had decided to let backpacking derail my training, I would not have felt the sense of accomplishment of seeing 10 miles click off on my Runkeeper app… or at least not today.
Sometimes running is not so fun. At times it’s like checking the box. Other times it takes everything I have to get out and do it. And frequently it feels good physically but I’m distracted by other stuff. But this morning I was reminded of the gift of running that always inspires me to come back for more. For, if it wasn’t for running this morning, I would’ve missed this. And that would have been a huge loss.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to bed. I’m exhausted for some reason.