Welcome to the Grind


The 20 mile run.

Saturday was the day! It was the day to find out if I trained enough, if I had it in me, if I wanted it badly enough. It was the day of the 20 mile run. This was going to be the only chance for our group to get this length of a run in before the marathon, and coach Loran says that anything longer takes too long to recover from.

So we set out to meet at Nollen Plaza downtown at 7am, with water carriers on bikes riding along with us. It was a small group, Stephanie, Kara, Laura, and myself running with Allison, Julie, and Paul on bikes. That way if we break off because of pace, a rider can go with a runner. So we met at the appropriate time, excited and ready to go, and then . . .

Rain. Lots of it. We stood in the rain for a few minutes hoping for a break in the weather, but it was not to be. Undaunted, we decided to reconvene at 3pm and try again. That gave us eight hours to keep the doubts and fears at bay.

The skies cleared around noon, and by 3pm it was beautiful! We went over the course once again, and with the riders full of bottled water and our GPS watches set, we took off. The first step was the hardest, knowing that after that first beginning step I would not stop until I crossed 20 miles or until I met with failure . . . whichever came first. Thing was, I didn’t plan on failure even getting a chance to step up.

The course map was beautiful! Stephanie did an awesome job of taking us through downtown, through some older neighborhoods, by the Art Center, and into the trails that led us to WaterWorks Park and Gray’s Lake. We then headed back to downtown, the Riverwalk and the Court Avenue district before making it back to the plaza.

I seemed to be doing ok until about mile 17, when the soreness in my hips and other areas tried to get the best of me. I was closing in on 18 miles, which was my max at the time, and my body was letting me know that. It wanted to stop, to rest, to go home. But then I heard that voice, the one in the Nike commercial that talks about why you’re doing this, and how to keep going. The voice said “Welcome to the grind” and with that I commanded my feet to keep moving, I told the aching muscles to shut up, that I was in charge and that we weren’t finished yet. I was having an internal fight with my body, and my determination was taking control. It was reminding my body that you trained hard for this, that it was now within your grasp, so don’t just let it slip away, to fall back into the well of hopeful dreams and wishes. It’s there, right in front of you, so keep moving toward it.

And I kept moving.

Before I knew it, I was circling the plaza, finishing up the 20 mile run. Sweaty, chilled in the night air, I had to run by an event going on at the Civic Center. Well dressed people stared as I ran by, and I imagine by the way I looked, they were probably worried that I would beg for money. Little did they know that I just received something that money can’t buy; something only earned by training, dedication, sweat, desire, motivation, and the loving support of others. As I passed the last lap, slowed down and stopped my GPS, I looked around and realized I could do anything I wanted to. I just had to be willing to put in the effort to get there.

And for that moment, I was there. What a great feeling.

Live healthy, be happy!