Last Friday as we set off for school I was decked out in my running gear, new hydration belt around my waist. Once the bell rang, I was going to be hitting the major milestone in marathon training and running 20 miles. 20 long miles. My longest to date had been 18 so I told myself, just two more, it's not that big of a stretch. But for anyone who has trained, its a big mental hurdle.
None of my BRF's (best running friends) were available to run with me, but as it happens, one of my BRF's husband, Joe, is also training for a marathon and he was due for 20 miles. We met at the school, chatted briefly about the route then ran off. We settled into a nice groove and the miles moved on.
Earlier that morning I posted a Facebook status that I would be running 20 miles and linking my Nike app so that friends could cheer me along as we went. Due to technical difficulties, the link didn't work and so I didn't receive any cheers. Every so often though I glanced at my phone and saw that comments were made on my Facebook status so I knew good thoughts were coming our way regardless.
We ran along and I appreciated Joe leading the conversation. Each mile that chimed on my Garmin, I told myself, only 17 more, only 12 more, only 10 more. I tried to stay in the present mile and not look ahead. Focus on the mile I am running, the next one will be there no matter what. It truly becomes a mental game. Enjoy each mile.
Walk breaks happened, pauses at the crosswalks were appreciated but we kept moving forward. Forward is a pace. We were close to the school a few miles shy of 20 so we ran out a mile then back again. My Garmin chimed, I let out a yahooo, we high-fived and took a deep breath. Done. 20 miles done. I felt good, tired but strong and happy. We stretched and chatted then I made the walk back up the ridge home. My husband was there and quickly got me a glass of water and prepared a snack for me. I sat and took another deep breath. I did it.
After an ice cold bath and beer, I read through my Facebook comments. Plenty of likes and many comments assuring me I could do it. There was one from George, who in addition to my Dad is one of the wisest, and finest men I know. I've known George forever and he always has the perfect thing to say. Enjoy the journey, he wrote. I got horizontal, feet up on pillows, compression socks on my legs and thought about just that, my journey of 20 miles, and I really did enjoy it.
I enjoyed the two bluebirds who flew across our path causing me to sing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah over and over in my head; I enjoyed running over Tilikum Crossing, Portland's new pedestrian/bicycle/public transportation only bridge; I enjoyed the rare glance north, up the river of my beautiful city; I enjoyed the sun's reflection on Big Pink, the towering building inside of which I knew my hubs was working away; I enjoyed the tree lined streets of my neighborhood, and the lone penny that caught my eye at mile 19. I enjoyed pushing my body farther than ever and discovering the strength that comes with it.
20 miles was just one small part of this journey that I sometimes shake my head in disbelief that I am on. I never set out to run a marathon. I never expected to push my body, or my mind to this point. But I truly am enjoying it. I'm enjoying the opportunity to learn about myself, to share something so extraordinary with my sister, to accept the setbacks with the accomplishments. I am in awe of friends who have stepped up to support me with encouraging words and financial donations to Every Mother Counts; who text me messages with simple statements or inspirational scripture. I am enjoying this journey. Each mile of it, as it brings me closer to the finish line.
That Friday morning as we walked to school I reminded AB that I would be going on my longest run ever, When you sit down for lunch, I will still be running, I told him to try to help him get a sense for the time and distance. His response caught me off guard Mom, give me your hand, I am going to squeeze something into you. I have 100 gallons of energy, what is half of that, 50? ok, then I am giving you half my energy, 50 gallons of my energy. I need to keep some because I like to run outside and I need it. You can do it with my energy.
Yes I can son, and yes I did, all while enjoying the 20 mile long journey, and the many miles still ahead.
Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A. My oh my what a wonderful day, plenty of sunshine heading my way. Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A Wonderful feeling, what a wonderful day.