By Nicole Cesare for Philadelphia Runner
Week 4, and my calendar tells me I'm supposed to do 7 miles for my long run. For some reason, this feels exponentially farther than 6 miles. In fact, it must have been causing me more anxiety than I realized, because the night before I dreamed I was running a marathon up and down a mountain, with my mom serving as pit crew.
This dream was ridiculous for a couple of reasons. 1) I have no plans to take part in a mountain marathon and 2) if I were to take part in a mountain marathon, it would be to serve as my mom's pit crew, not the other way around.
Let me tell you a little bit about my mom.
She turned 60 this year. She does trail runs in her down time, comes in near the top of her age bracket in road races, runs up stairs to the top of skyscrapers, and oh yeah, earlier this year she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. See, if anyone is going to do a mountain marathon, it's her.
About ten years go, when I did my first Broad Street Run, my mom and sister decided to fly out from Indiana to join me, which was awesome. But in the weeks approaching the race, my sister told me that my mom had been pretty busy, and that she hadn't been getting in as much training as she wanted. When they got to Philly, the truth came out: she had barely trained at all. I was concerned, hoping she wouldn't push too hard and injure herself the day of the race.
About that. My mom kept pace with me every step of the way. At one point, as I chugged along grimly, I glanced over and saw her walking next to me, cheering me on as I 'ran.’ She had a blast the entire time, waving and high five-ing the crowd. At one point I was convinced she was about to break into cartwheels. When the race was over, she popped some aspirin and bounced right back, while I collapsed on the couch and didn't move for hours.
Alas, my mom wasn't here to serve as my pit crew or my cheerleader this week, so I had to tackle these 7 miles on my own. I mapped out a route that took me up to Race Street Pier, where I marveled at the Ben Franklin Bridge until I realized snowflakes were falling. I also checked out Spruce Street Harbor Park, in the hopes of warming up with memories from summers past. I finally made it home and, yup, pretty much collapsed on the couch and didn't move for hours.
I almost always prefer long runs to short training runs, because even though they require more physical effort, the payoff is so much greater. But this week I had a minor breakthrough with one of my short runs. It was a frigid weekday, and I headed to the gym, grumbling the whole time. I was sluggish and cranky, and just plain didn't want to.
But I did. My head wasn't in it, but my body took over and shut me up. I did the run I set out to do, and it was fine. When it was over, I mostly felt grateful that, even under less than perfect conditions, this body can do this thing.
And that, friends, is the long and short of it.
(I'm sorry, that was so corny that I couldn't resist. )