I love reading blog entries from last year, when I was just beginning my training season for the marathon. I used to spend a lot of time planning out trail routes that would keep me interested and distract me from the distance I was running. The main reason for this : if the route wasn't interesting, I would have a really hard time actually completing the distance I planned. I would map out long loop routes, not only because I wanted to see as much different scenery as possible, but also because, on a loop trail, there's no going back, no shortcuts, no way to run any less distance than what's laid out.
Rockwood Park. Home of the nice little 1.5 mile loop trail packed with short, steep little climbs, nice terrain and pretty views. Its also about 3 minutes from my house. Score. Last year, there was a guy I'd always see at the park; he would be running easily when I arrived; and still calmly trekking around the loop when I'd head out. We'd always wave, that fellow-runner camaraderie alive and well. Mister runner-man was always there, going around and around and around that loop trail. I can do that, I thought. When Lu is in school, I like to be at least sort of close to my car, just in case something happens and I need to go pick her up early. I worry that I'll get a call from her school when I'm in the woods, 6 miles away from my car. Mom of the year, ya'll! I like the idea of short laps that keep me close to my adorable little VW and my kiddo. So, watching Mister Marathon man at Rockwood gave me an idea for my longer mid-week runs. I can do that.
I headed to Rockwood, aiming for 6 miles while Lu was in school. I couldn't do it. I couldn't sit still that long. It was a monumental task to quiet my mind and calm down enough to go around the same loop 4 times in a row. I tried again. And again. I was successful once or twice, and it was very uncomfortable. I almost always found some reason to stop early or start running sprints to keep my mind occupied, which always resulted in total exhaustion way before my 6-mile goal. So dumb.
After gaining the experience of one full marathon training season, culminating in the marathon and continuing to today, I feel more settled and calm than ever. Yesterday, I did the same 6-mile run at Rockwood: 4 times around the nice little 1.5-mile Orange trail. It was a beautiful day, I had my easy tunes to keep me company, and I actually enjoyed the laps. So weird.
My attitude towards training this time around is very different than it has been in the past. I'm more relaxed, less uptight and more confident in myself and my body. With the 50k in December and two 1/2 Marathons before that, I'll need all the positive energy, determination and confidence I can muster.
Time to hop back on the Merry-Go-Round, I've got another 6-miler to take care of.
One of my favorite not-so-obvious running songs. Zac Brown's Quiet Your Mind.
Enjoy the ride.