Today was like many Saturday mornings I have had in the past 3 months. I awoke at 5:15am to the sound of my cell phone alarm clock, which is never pleasant. I took a deep breathe as I dismissed my alarm, and felt defeated before I placed my feet on the floor (this was not a good sign). I knew outside was calling my name, all 22 miles of it.
I navigated my way to the kitchen not turning on one light in fear of waking my husband and sleeping baby. I was in need of morning coffee. I wasn’t dreading the run but how I would feel two days from now. It takes my body 2 full days for all the aches and pains to surface. I run enough 20+ miles to know I will be worn out in the days to come. I never have negative thoughts like I was having today. I knew it was going to take everything in me to exit my house.
As I was getting dressed I noticed how dark it was outside. I forgot we sprung forward last week. Fear set in. My route was straight through the park which is not well lit. I contemplated re-routing and then I thought about why I was scared to run in the park in the dark. I wasn’t afraid during the day so why should 6am be any different? I realized as women we are conditioned to think the park + dark = rapist/muggers! It is much like children being afraid of the monsters under their beds. Not every woman who runs in the park while the moon is out is rapped and murdered. I know this may shock some of you but it is true. At that moment I understood I was okay to run in the park alone without the sun.
I laced my shoes up, strapped my watch on and text my old running friend. I let her know I was leaving my house because I was going to meet her along the way. I was running alone and picking her up at mile 8. She would run the remainder of the distance with me. I was thrilled she was joining me because we have not spent much time together as of late.
It was a cold morning compared to the last few days. The weather was awkward. There was a strong cold wind but without the wind it was relatively warm. I would go from freezing to feeling over dressed. My body acclimated about 4 miles in. I was shocked at how many people were out running. Normally there are a few groups out but this morning there was an abundance of solo runners. I did not feel alone in the park, which I embraced. I watched the sun rise, it was beautiful. The rays began to break through the clouds and the sky went from gray to stunning shades of blue and purple. It was becoming the idea morning.
As I hit mile 8 Ashley joined in, I was glad to see her. My body felt good but I was mentally impeded . Just seeing her lifted my spirits. As we ran time began to breeze by, we had a lot of catching up to do. She shared her life with me and I shared mine with her. We took in all the sights and sounds we had never noticed before. We ran through multiple terrains; grass, mud, city, urban, parks and so on. It was a nice little adventure. Ashley is one of the few people I do not mind running with. We can naturally keep the same pace and conversant without annoying one another (this is a challenge because fatigue can cause mood swings). Once the body hits exhaustion the smallest thing can cause irritation to the mood. While we exchanged words my body grew more and more tired. My hips were cramping, my calf formed a darting pain and my knee burned. I choose to ignore the pain. If I didn’t acknowledge it I was unaware of it. I focused closely on what Ashley was saying and the sights around me to keep myself distracted. Running is agonizing at times, I had to deal with it and keep pushing forward. I reminded myself this run was going to take roughly 3 hours, only 3 hours, 3 hours of my entire existence, 3 hours is a small amount of time. I replay this thought over and over again. It worked!
I planned the last mile of our run to descend and then immediately ascend, to prepare my legs for the constant down hill up hill battle in Boston. At mile 21 my legs were heavy and I knew this portion of the route was going to be tough. As we accelerated up the final hill my hamstrings immediately knotted up, but I plowed through it. There is no quitting there is only moving forward. We pushed to a 7:45 pace the last mile. My Garmin beeped, I knew we had reached 22 miles and our run was over. It was time to part ways. Ashley was going to deal with the issues in her life and I was going to be a playful mom.
We stretched outside for a few moments before my daughter spotted us through the window. She stood at the door pointing, she was so cute. Still in her pj’s with her hair going in every direction. I knew once I entered the house I would not be able to stretch because she would want to play. As we entered Shane headed out for a bike ride. No time to shower or relax. It was only fair, Shane and I both sacrifice personal hygiene to allow each of us to get our workouts in. Ashley smiled as she saw how attached my daughter was to me after a long run and how quick Shane was to get out of the house. She understood why I stretch and cool down outside. Inside it was time to focus on my little one.
We chugged down our protein shakes and liquid fish oil and said our good byes. Most women like to catch up over coffee, dinner, cocktails, a night out but we prefer to catch up over 22 miles of changing scenery when we are most vulnerable. You learn a lot about one another and yourself. Today was a good day, just another Saturday.