Last week I had to run 20 entire miles in one shot. I was looking forward to it. I planned for it all week. I ate right; I got enough sleep; I had enough nutrition and water. Then God threw me a curve ball.
I had been keeping my eye on the weather all week. I knew Friday was going to be sunny and beautiful. Thursday morning I checked again and saw a change that made my heart skip (not in a good way). The wind speed had increased.
Let me give you a little history on wind. I grew up in the Red River Valley of North Dakota. This is probably one of the flattest areas in the world. As an example, the local school district built a new K-12 building in a spot where you can actually SEE all five towns that consolidated together. These towns are anywhere from 5-15 miles away. So yeah it’s flat. Because of this topography it is also very windy. No hills or trees to stop the wind so we dealt with wind every day. Some days we had a breeze other days we had typhoon grade winds. I do not remember a day from my childhood when there wasn’t wind.
I tell you that to tell you about my run. I treated my run exactly like Marathon Day. I got up early to eat breakfast. I was dressed and ready to run by 7 AM because that is the official race start time. I did this to get my body ready, but my mind kept telling me it was a bad idea. See, the weather forecast said that the winds were going to increase as the day went on. I felt like I should have started early, but I wanted to keep everything like it would be on race day. When I started my run at 7 AM the winds were in the high teens. 90 minutes later the winds were so strong I felt I was running in place. It took me 2:47:57 to finish 13 miles. I was mentally and physically drained. At one point I yelled out “ENOUGH!” only to have God throw stronger wind in my face. All I could do was laugh. I kept telling myself THIS is Fargo wind. This is what I am going to be running in on race day. But I let my brain take over and it told me”Yes, it will be like this on race day but today is NOT race day.” I did something I had been able to talk myself out of until that day; I finished my run inside.
I felt like a quitter. I felt like I let myself down, let my body down and let everyone rooting for me down. It took me a lot longer inside than outside but I DID finish. I had to flip between an elliptical machine and dreadmill but I completed 20 solid miles. I stopped worrying about my times and just focused on the end result; 20 miles.
After I logged my miles, I went home, showered, had lunch and took a nap. When I woke up I still felt defeated. I felt like I had cheated myself out of the full 20 mile accomplishment. I went to dinner with some friends and we had a wonderful time. As we left we ran into some friends from work. One offered to buy me a beer because “You ran 20 miles today!” I said that was kind but I didn’t really run 20 whole miles; I had to go inside and use the elliptical and dreadmill. She just looked at me and said that 20 miles is 20 miles. She had a point. 20 miles IS 20 miles.
I still feel like I cheated my body out of the full 20 mile run experience. But I also know that my body has been beaten like it has never been beaten in the last few weeks. I covered 20 full miles. Two weeks before I covered 18. And I am not looking for a world record; I am looking to FINISH. And I will finish because I haven’t given up yet and I won’t give up.
The next 3 weeks of training are my “burn down” weeks; my mileage starts to decrease so I can feel prepared for my run and not over worked. I didn’t run the full 40 miles last week; I ran 25. And I am ok with that. I know every run and every step gets me closer to finishing my goal. And that is the point- to finish.