Week five of my half-marathon training started out just fine. I had worried about the town fair forcing me to re-route all my runs, but in the end, I just ignored it. The park is the start and end point of all of my runs and it is also the location of a huge fair each year the first weekend in August. Tuesday morning, I walked down to the park and passed the Ferris wheel and the skeletons of several other rides.
Each day was the same, but the rides were built up, more and more. I finished my Thursday run not having seen a single worker in my three week-day runs. The carnival rides seemed to assemble themselves, growing day-by-day. I was still running slower than I’d have liked, but a look back showed me I was a bit faster than the week before.
The highlight of my week was Wednesday which started out with me seeing a doe ten feet away while I was still in my neighborhood…it trotted across the street and into the woods where I was headed. I also saw rabbits, a common site, and a black squirrel which are pretty uncommon. The most unusual sighting was actually a very domestic-looking cat hunting in the woods.
With each of my short, week-day runs, I tried not to think about my long, Saturday run. It scared me. On Saturday, I knew I should get out early, before the day’s festivities at the park. The rides started at 11, but there were other, earlier, events. In the end, it wasn’t until 8:50 a.m. that I got down to the park. As I left the house, my legs were shaking…I mentally shook the fear off and started walking.
Down at the park, there were already people getting ready for the day. The police were there at the entrances to preserve law and order. I walked, awkwardly, through the park to find my start-point. I started my watch and took off. I ran very self-consciously…thinking about my running at every step…wondering if I could even make it to the first mile marker that I held in my head. I made it. I pushed on to the second mile, then the third…I ran through sun and shade, the sun being a bit brutal even that early in the day. When I hit three miles, I knew I just had to get to the one-mile marker on the trail in the county park.
Out in the sun, the going was hard. I knew, now, how far it was to the half-mile marker, but this time I had to get to the 1-mile marker. The trail goes 17.5 miles through a county park, along the river. As far as I know, there is only one major intersection and it is in the beginning of the path. When I finally got to the one-mile marker, it was just before this intersection. Going forward, I will have to deal with a traffic light in the middle of my run. I got to the turning point and glanced at my watch…it was 45 and a half minutes…between 11 and 12 minutes per mile. But I knew that this last mile was exceedingly slow. The return mile was slow too.
I ran the mile back to my usual route where I only had three mile to go…I’d run 5 miles already. I struggled back to the six mile mark, but I actually ran a 10 minute mile. I’m not sure how I did this…maybe the milestones in my head are not exactly accurate, but I think running in the shade made the difference. I only had two more miles to run and I ran very consciously through my paces. The kitty cat at mile 6 and a half was no where to be found to amuse me. There were only a plethora of birds to amuse me in this last stretch…really a lot of small birds, not sure what that portends.
When I got back home, I was questioning my ability to make it in a half-marathon…chafed thighs, blistered feet, a stitch in my side…but I’ve researched it all and I am determined to make it through my training….but my focus is on getting through week six of training.
Find the Joy in the Journey…and the Joy in persevering against all odds!