The sun came out today for the first time in probably a week. For my own personal sanity I try not to count the sunless days, so I'm not sure exactly how long. Today also happens to be the day my daughter attends the oo-op preschool without me. This created the perfect equation:
Sunshine (and warmer temperatures, too!) + both children at school = TRAIL RUN!
With new shoes and a new long-sleeved running shirt on, I was ready to head out for my first trail run of the year promptly at 9:40AM. Apparently my mind, legs, lungs, and spirit all had a different start time in mind, because for the first 3.5 miles of my 4.4 mile run, they were all out of sync. Big time. And my self-pity whining kicked in, or "st-run-ggling" (a play on "struggling", ya know?) as I decided to call it.
"I haven't run the trail in a month. I'm slower than I run when I'm with the group on Saturday mornings. I had to stop and walk. My left hamstring is tight. I should have stayed home to fold the mountains of laundry waiting for me. If I can't run well today, what makes me think a half-marathon should be in my plan for the year?" . . . on and on the excuses and complaints went. And on and on my body and mind fought.
I nearly turned around at the 5K half-way mark, but my brain tricked my legs into staying the course.
At the 2 mile marker my brain was ready to give in, but my spirit took over and noticed that the sun was shining and I had the trail to myself. It would be a shame to give up and not make it the last stretch to the 2.2 mile turn around point (a major Roundabout that leads to "the city") when no rain was pelting my face and no children were whining.
At 2.2 miles I had no choice but to run another 2.2 miles back to my car, so after quick hamstring stretch and a deep breath, I got going again.
Somewhere between mile 3 and 3.5 I came to the realization that how I felt about this run was up to ME. So I began asking myself some important questions:
Why do I run? (It is time for myself, it makes me feel strong, I'm less stressed afterward, it is the only time that I feel beautiful while sweating)
Why did I choose the trail this morning? (The sun was shining, I wanted to test out my new shoes on the trail, my children were at school)
Why am I whining? (FOR NO GOOD REASON!!!)
And with that, everything fell into place. I found my stride, I lifted my chin, my steady breathing rhythm hit and off I went to finish the remaining 0.9 mile stretch.
When I reached the end of the trail and checked my watch, I realized the joke was on me. Despite the fact that I felt slower, stopped to watch some ducks duke it out in the river, took a stretch break and took several walk breaks . . . I still finished in under 40 minutes, which put me at under a 10:00 pace. Not bad considering all of the mental commotion.
So if someone asks me about my run today I can now say that it was a sunny, eye-opening run filled with self-reflection. Not my best run, but definitely not my worst. And now that I've faced my whining demons, I'm sure my next run WILL be a good one. It is all about perspective.
What do YOU do when your body-mind-spirit are out of whack on a run?