Yesterday I went for my first solo long run, and it was amazing! As I started out, the snow was falling and our road hadn't been plowed, yet. The snow was ankle deep, and I was questioning whether or not this was a good idea. Luckily, the next road I came to had been plowed, and running got a lot easier.
My first challenge came at mile 1 in the form of a huge hill that rose steeply for about a mile and a half. I knew it was going to be tough, but I hadn't planned on the snow. My feet were slipping, and the snow was blowing in my face. I started to get frustrated, but I remember the first time I ran in snow and that my trainer had said that you couldn't focus on speed when running in snow. It was just about doing it. So, I stopped being frustrated and just went. I got to the top and felt great. One major challenge was past, and I was feeling strong and ready for more.
After another short, flat stretch I started up the second hill. It was steeper than the first one and comprised of several steep, short rises in a row. These made me nervous because oncoming cars couldn't see me, and I had already encountered a couple drivers going way too fast on the slick road. So, I ran faster up the hills. It was hard, but I felt better when I reached a place where I could see what was coming.
This whole time the snow was falling, and it was gorgeous. I've always loved watching fat, fluffy flakes falling first thing in the morning, and being a part of it, instead of watching through a window was amazing. I felt like I was in a snow globe. I felt peaceful and happy as I ran. I was so glad I had decided to run that morning.
Around mile 4, I reached the top of the gigantic hill and also crossed the line of snow. The snow was not falling up there, and the sun was shining on the snow-covered trees. It was a beautiful sight and added more spring to my step. It's a sight that is beyond description. The sun was golden, and tree branched covered with a fresh dusting of snow is one of my favorite parts of winter. I was still feeling great and amazed at the beauty around me.
I reached mile 5, which was the place I had decided I could turn around if I felt I needed to. It was colder at the top, but I still felt pretty strong. I didn't want to turn around, yet. I wanted to do my 12 miles. I climbed another short hill and started back down. The 6 mile mark was halfway down the hill, so I had to turn around and start going back up mid-hill. It was tough, but I felt re-energized when I got to the top. As I started back, I was excited to be on the second half of my run, but I was beginning to feel the familiar ache in my back and I was worried I would have to walk soon.
Miles 7 & 8 were tough, but I kept going. I didn't really think. I just put one foot in front of the other. Just after mile 8, I crossed back down into the snow. It was gorgeous and no longer blowing in my face. I was feeling better. My aches had disappeared, and I felt strong. I was surprised by my thoughts at this point. Normally, I would be thinking about the aches and pains, my slipping feet, and food and a hot shower. This time was different. I was thinking about how lucky I am. I'm lucky to live in such a beautiful place. I'm lucky to have a healthy, strong body that is capable of running so far. I am incredibly lucky to have a husband who supports my goals and children who gave me kisses when I left and would run to embrace me when I got home. I kept thinking of all the wonderful things in my life. It was meditation in a snow globe.
The next 3 miles passed quickly. It was almost all downhill, and I was really enjoying every minute. There was a small hill at mile 11, but I did it with no problem. I started back toward my house feeling slightly achy and excited to be home soon. This was my only struggle. I started thinking about being done and tried to run faster. It worked fine when I could run on the road, but every time a car passed I had to move into the deeper snow at the edge. It slowed me down, and I slipped a lot. I was beginning to get frustrated, though I tried not to.
My final challenge was a small, steep hill about half a mile from my house. I had told myself that I could walk it if I wanted to. I was pretty amazed that I had run the whole distance without stopping to walk, but I was getting really sore. Every time I had to run in the snow, my feet slipped and pulled on my aching hip flexors. Walking sounded great.
But, then I thought about how good it would feel to run the whole thing without stopping. There was hardly any distance left, and I knew I could do it. So, I did. I powered up that hill, slipped my way along the road, and was thrilled to find that our road had been plowed. I ran home, waved to my neighbor, and stumbled inside, where I was immediately greeted with hugs and kisses. I felt amazing and accomplished. I had survived my first solo run, and I had pushed myself and run the whole distance. I felt a lot better than I had before, and I was confident that with consistent training I would be able to do a marathon. It no longer seems as frightening or impossible.
And, I enjoyed every bite of my guilt-free sushi afterward