After about four days of nearly constant and much-needed rain last week, the city of Des Moines has popped with color. Rich patches of deep green, blossoming trees, and daffodils seem to have appeared out of nowhere. The days are longer, the birds are chirping, and people have materialized on the streets, their hibernation period officially over. Spring has arrived and despite the unusually mild winter, I am glad to see it. Back are the days when I can open my windows, ride my bike to work, and feel beads of sweat drip into my eyes as I run. The arrival of spring means escaping from behind my desk for a walk in the sunshine during the work day and spending evenings sitting on my balcony, watching the world go by, listening to music, and wrapped in a blanket when the air is just cool enough to warrant it.
Spring also means that my race is drawing ever nearer and I am approaching my peak training weeks. Since discovering my “empty” a couple of weeks ago, I have felt my motivation waver. Fatigue has settled in, as has some of the negative self-talk that is inherent in trying to wrap my mind around running sixty-two miles in twelve hours. Draining days at work have resulted in wanting to come home and simply sit, when I really should get out for a second run of the day to increase my overall weekly mileage. Most of all, I have noticed a staggering increase in my appetite which does not wane on my easy running days. A salad for lunch just doesn’t cut it anymore, especially now that I have added some swimming and strength training to my running. Foods like avocados, cheese, and bread- oh my, so much bread- have sounded exponentially more appealing to me lately.
My love of the famed Dutch letter and growing obsession with trying to replicate this quintessential central Iowan pastry in my own kitchen has not helped the situation. I have eaten more almond paste than I care to admit in the last two weeks during my culinary experiments and, coupled with the feeling of not wanting to run as much as I should, I have felt heavy, lethargic and generally unfit as a result. In a recent conversation with one of my closest friends, I was describing exactly all of this- whining about it, really, and she said, “Those are called ugly days”. Yes… ugly days indeed. I have had several of those in the last two weeks. I haven’t felt like myself, even though I have been trying to keep up my workouts and mileage. Phases like these are inevitable during such a long training cycle, and as much as I’ve tried to go with the flow of it, I have felt frustrated and defeated.
I have gotten a bit of my running mojo back this weekend following a wonderful long run of nearly twenty miles yesterday and a shorter yet equally exhilarating run this morning. I ran about half of my long run in the company of good friends and the other half solo, with the sounds of spring to keep me company. Not having my iPod along allowed me to take in the scenery and enjoy the purity of my sport without distraction. I became acutely aware of the stiffness in my legs, the hotness in my feet, and general “when can I stop running?” feeling during the latter miles of my run. I spent the last mile trying to visualize running more than three times this distance in about four times the length of time. Not something I need to think about at this time, I told myself, and resolved to revel in my success for the day. I completed my run feeling strong, albeit stiff and sore.
After two successful runs this weekend, I am centered with a renewed balanced that I haven’t felt in two weeks. I feel back on track, fit and strong, and even lighter. I noticed as I looked in the mirror that my cheeks have been kissed by the sun. I’ve had pretty days this weekend rather than ugly ones. Everything in the world seems right again, only now brighter and greener.
Thank you for reading!