Monday, April 9, 2012

Running lessons: Never forget where you started

It was a good week of running. I felt a bit discouraged after my long run two weeks ago but, with some rest and a couple of good runs under my belt, I'm feeling much more optimistic that I can finish the Wascally Wabbit 50k. Physically, I'm strong enough. The question is: Will I have the psychological and emotional fortitude to keep going when it starts to feel tough. Only time will tell. Over the next five weeks, I just have to keep training and visualizing and hope that by race day I have the "tricks" needed to carry me through.

This past weekend was a long one. I decided to do my 35k long slow run on Friday so I'd be free to enjoy a belated birthday lunch with my friend Janet on Saturday. And enjoy it, we did. While Janet opted for traditional fish and chips, I went for the gusto ordering deep friend clams, haddock and french fries accompanied by a huge vanilla milkshake. Delicious and just what the doctor ordered after a long run the day before.

I intended to tackle a 10k "recovery" run Easter Sunday morning but awoke to this view outside my window.

Since it wasn't very spring-like and I was still feeling quite tired, I postponed my run until today and did it on the trails in Shubie Park instead. I'm glad I did. It was early evening by the time I headed out but the sun was still bright and the park was serenely beautiful as I ran a 12.5k loop savouring the sweet smell of wet pine and the cheerful birdsong overhead.

A high point of the run was crossing paths with a "learn to run" group from Heart & Soul running club. What an inspiration!  Though some were clearly struggling to find their inner athletes, the members of the group were cheerful, determined and very proud of how far they'd come. And so they should be. 

I remember only too well how hard my first runs felt ten years ago. I'd joined a "learn to run" course at a friend's suggestion because I wanted to lose weight and feel good in my skin again. I was forty years old, 25-30 pounds overweight, with a bad back and no inkling I would consider myself a runner one day. At the time, I thought I'd be happy if I ever managed to run 5kms without stopping. I vividly recall being ecstatic when finally - finally - I ran all the way around Lake Banook (about 4.5kms) - something I do routinely now as part of my regular routes.  In fact, I took the photo at the top of this post as I ran home along the shores of the lake tonight.

Ten years later, I'm more grateful than I can say to be a runner, a marathoner and - soon, I hope - an ultramarathoner.  I just hope I never forget where I started, or stop being grateful to the younger version of myself who did all that hard work to get me here.

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