How to use a shovel…

As I got started on my last 20 mile run before the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n Roll Phoenix Marathon yesterday, I was appalled, irritated, and cursing all of the West Des Moines residents who apparently don’t know how to use a shovel.  Seriously people, scoop up the snow and toss off the sidewalk.  It may take some work, but it’ll save you a lawsuit when runners and walkers slip and break a bone in front of your house because of your laziness.  I formulated an angry letter to the editor in my head as I ran.  It did help pass the time, soon 2 miles turned into 5 miles.  I was jumping over ice chunks that somehow got pushed onto the sidewalk from the snow plows and had not been cleared by homeowners.  I was scaling large, icy snow banks built up on every corner in order to cross the street.  And in most cases, I was trying to follow a tiny, narrow path that barely fit both of my feet, which was the only spot cleared by homeowners.

After realizing that my ranting in my head wasn’t going to do anything, I quickly got over it as fast as I had gotten fired up about it.  The temperature was actually tolerable!  I had on 3 layers, but didn’t feel weighted down.  After 5 miles, I could tell Bisou was getting cold by how she was pulling back on the leash and gingerly making her way through the snow-covered sidewalks instead of happily frolicking like she started out.  I decided to take a detour past my parents house and drop her off to warm up.

I thought about how I would feel when I had 6 miles left of this 20 mile run, instead of being 6 miles in… and kept going, determined to get there.  The shocking part was, that despite the snow packed streets and sidewalks (and the extra effort it takes to run in those conditions), I felt good!  I felt like running 20 miles was going to be a cake walk!  I found a short 2 mile loop before I headed back to my house to meet Brian for the last 12 miles.  I made a quick pitstop at my house, getting water, taking a honey stinger gold gel, and grabbing a dry set of gloves.  Brian was in the best mood I’ve ever seen him in when he met up with me and we gingerly started making our way on the out and back down E.P. True Parkway.  We chatted about our training progress and complained about the streets and sidewalks and Brian encouraged me to keep going.  “Tough love” is how he described it.  And I was thankful to have it.  While I was still feeling (surprisingly) good, I was wanting to quit.  And soon the thought that 18 miles in snow-covered conditions should surely equal 20 and would it really be that bad if I turned around early??  The answer was yes.  And Brian assured me he wasn’t going to let me do that.  Around mile 12, my legs started to freeze up as the sun was going behind clouds and the temperatures seemed to start to drop.  I slowed my pace and trudged on.  This run, for me, was not about speed, but about completion.  And with the constant slowing to walk and ascend and descend the icy mounds on each corner, I didn’t even bother stopping my watch.  I didn’t care.  I was putting in the time.  And when I’m struggling in Phoenix in 3 weeks, I’ll remember this run, and hopefully it’ll pull me through my funk.

Finally, we hit our turn around point. 14 miles for me, 6 miles for Brian and we started on our way back to my house.  Just knowing that you’re headed home is enough to bring a smile to my face.  And here I was, only 6 miles left.  I remembered where I was 6 miles in and realized, I still felt good!  I hadn’t felt this good on a long run in a very long time!  It was definitely the boost I needed going into my taper weeks.

I know, with all that I’ve encountered this training season, that my body is physically capable of pushing the limits.  Battling GI issues, some type of virus, overworked IT Band (due to old shoes= my fault!), ice, snow, and freezing temperatures, this has been a training season to test my limits.  Admittedly, I ran more than I thought I would, given these conditions!  When I get to Phoenix, it’s clear to my that my physical state won’t be what holds me back.  Getting my head there, is what is going to take the effort.  I lack confidence.  I have in every race I’ve started.  The next 3 weeks are the weeks I need to start my positive self talk.  Maybe, I’ll channel Stuart Smalley 🙂


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