Today's post is intended to act as my contribution to the Runners' Lounge Take It And Run Thursday: Middle Miles.
I am now squarely in the middle of my training schedule for the Detroit Marathon. 9 weeks have elapsed since I took my first steps towards becoming a marathoner and I have 8 weeks to go until I can finally say that with certainty. (I refuse to say "I am a marathon runner" until I've completed the race. Because until I cross that finish line...I am not.)
I'll be honest: it's starting to wear on me. I haven't reached a point where I slip on my running shoes with a grinding feeling of dread like I'm about to set out on the Bataan Death March, but there are days when I would much rather just not run.
I felt like that this morning when the alarm went off in the pitch blackness of 5:30 and I slid out of bed with a groan. Multiple days of late-night Olympics watching plus a post-Demolition Derby trip with friends to a local watering hole and two pints of Bell's Two-Hearted Ale does not for an easy rise make. By the time I left the house at 5:50 the first glow of sunrise was visible on the horizon. I peeled off a couple of miles and hit the cemetery driveway going east, facing a sky colored a startling red. Red sky at night, sailor's delight; red sky in the morning, sailor take warning, I thought. I wonder if it will rain later? The driveway, hemmed in by thick woods, is always darker than any surrounding road, and this morning was no exception. The faintest shimmer of silvery blue reflected off the drive, showing me the way, and the air creeping in from the swamp was exquisitely cool and moist. The stillness was palpable. I breathed deeply, savoring it. My fuzzy head cleared, my leaden legs awakened. Two more miles and I was at the head of a mile-long stretch of gravel road, the sunrise now well under way and the lurid red of 20 minutes earlier had yielded to a sweet, subdued yellow streaked with clouds. Rabbits grazed on the berm and blankets of mist lay low over the grasslands. Not another soul was stirring. I thought, clearly: Why do I complain about this? I love doing this. Look around. It's beautiful out here. I would never see these things otherwise. I never did see these things until I started running. And now look. I'm running eight miles before most people even get up. 2 years ago I couldn't even run a half mile without feeling like I was going to pass out. I've come so far. I'm going to run a marathon, for pete's sake...
I lifted my gaze from its customary spot about 15 feet in front of me and really looked into the distance. The next intersection was about a half mile away. I kept my eyes on the stop sign as it grew from a red dot into life-size.
My goal-- the marathon-- is in front of me, not yet full-sized, but I can at least see it. Each day, each mile brings me closer.
I reached the stop sign and turned left.
I would rather keep going.