Here in Bend, we love winter. Skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, even fat tire biking are popular snow sports in Bend. We haven’t had snow since December and last night, things changed.
We woke up to a fresh blanket of the fluffy white stuff. Just in time for my 17-mile run on Phil’s Trails.
It didn’t take long for us to realize how unfriendly the conditions were to runners. It wasn’t the temperature, which was biting but manageable. It wasn’t really the snow. I’ve run in worse. It wasn’t the elevation, and it wasn’t the climb. It certainly wasn’t my fitness level and it most definitely wasn’t my attitude or my mental preparedness.
It was, however, the combination of fresh snow over a rugged, hilly ascent on the Phil’s Trails, climbing to almost 5,000 feet in elevation. I was mentally prepared to tough it out till the end of the route, not willing to skip a single mile of the 17-mile loop. But I was struggling. Every step was uncertain. Every hill was a reminder that sometimes, the mountains win. I just put my head down (so to speak; it was actually gorgeous outside and I took it all in) and ran. One foot in front of the other.
I felt like I had been running for a lifetime when I first looked at my Strava app for some feedback. That’s why it was so shocking to learn I had only traveled less than 3 miles.
Head back down, one foot and then the other. Just keep going.
Never ever ever ever give up. ~ Winston Churchill
I just kept going.
Eventually I turned on Audible and listened to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and focused on her struggles and her ability to barrel through it all, and took the focus off my own.
I think that’s why, when I checked Strava again, I was shocked to learn that it had taken me 1 hour, 5 minutes to travel 4 miles. I was frustrated. I was alone. It would take me for. ev. er. to finish 17 miles at this pace. Frankly, I didn’t think I had enough food with me to sustain a workout of that duration. I couldn’t do the math then, but it would have taken me longer than my slowest marathon time to finish 17 miles. And that would be detrimental, not helpful, to my training plan.
I posted a frustrated message on Twitter and of course it was having issues connecting, so I just kept going. FYI, the photo was taken before the moment of realization that the conditions were not perfect for running long distance. Hence the smile.
My friends Lexi and Kari turned around early and stopped me in my ridiculously slow tracks. Kari spoke with wisdom and leadership and all but made me pinky promise to forgo the long loop and turn around at the next logging road to make it a 10-mile run. The conditions were not good and I didn’t have anyone with me and I wasn’t fully prepared.
She was right.
I did what she said and ran to the logging road and then turned around to head back.
The way back was somehow worse. It was not nearly as hilly (it was downhill) but in my mind, 5 miles had become so traversable that I couldn’t imagine 5 downhill miles ever being so slow. But they were.
I grew increasingly tired and hungry, and my sore calf started to morph into an actual sore calf. The pain in my left middle toe was back. And my calf felt worse.
I was doing everything I could to not let my mind travel down a path of negativity.
Eventually I caught up to Peggy and Tracy, who had been running behind me the whole way. I was in so much pain when I reached them that I couldn’t bear to stop, so I checked in verbally as I blasted past. Right. Blasted as in how an ant passes a snail.
My mind was set on a cheeseburger.
Eventually, I made it to the end. That’s what happens when you put one foot in front of the other. You finish.
The good news is that every inch of my skin was intact at the end. In case you missed it, read my review of Chafe X Skin Cream and pick up your very own FREE tube today by using the code “trikatykid”.
Never give up, but know that sometimes it’s ok to give in a little. I’m glad I didn’t give up and I am more glad that I did eventually give in to the message Mother Nature was trying to tell me.
Next week, I am cutting my mileage considerably. No more than 10 miles total for the week. It’s a rule. I need my calves to feel 100%. All these hills and fast runs are not giving my body a chance to recover. So I’m giving in before I’m pulled out forever. My running career means more to me than one week’s mileage.