Every Saturday morning begins the same way: alarm goes off at 6am, tea kettle heats up, eat something small, change into running clothes, lace up shoes, out the door by 7am. Its a routine I’ve become comfortable with. Most weekdays I find myself awake at 5am, so I’ve come to appreciate the extra hour of sleep. There is less dread of the early morning, and more of a sense of satisfaction for checking off the miles of that weekly long run.
But my one crutch is the motivation of meeting someone to get in those miles. A friend to help pass the miles, someone to set the course, to keep me motivated. The thought of having to run 10+ miles alone terrifies me. While I know that I am physically capable of the run, it is my mental state and bad attitude that I know can stop me in my tracks.
What I started to realize is those long, quiet miles are the one time when I am most in my head. When negativity can shine through, or worries about my job, or family, or future, when it feels like a struggle to take one more stride. I feared running with others for a long time because I wasn’t fast enough, wasn’t strong enough, couldn’t go that far, the excuses were endless. And now its something that I’ve become reliant upon to quite my racing mind. The mental challenge of running was something I didn’t feel prepared for. I didn’t expect to start crying four miles in one Saturday morning. I didn’t think that my mind could stop my legs from running up one more hill. I didn’t realize how honest running would make me. Those long, quiet, and sometimes lonely miles have forced me to accept where I am today.
On Sunday morning I will wake up at 5am one more time in 2012 to run 13.1. I’ve spent too much time this week worrying about being the very last person to cross the half-marathon finish line, about having to run by myself on a course that hasn’t always been friendly to my mental state, about having no one there to greet me at the finish line or cheer me one when my mind says stop. But I signed up for this race for myself. To push myself out of the 3 mile comfort zone, to challenge my body and my mind. And to realize that it doesn’t matter how fast or slow I am on that day, because it will be whats right for me.