Handing Over the Reins

I can't blame my awful sleep last night on a full moon, but the universe definitely asserted its pull on my run today. (Photo from Boston Globe photographer Jim Davis.)


Last night, I had a tough time falling asleep. Among the many things swirling around in my mind were two things: if--and where--I'd do my ten-mile run today and what I'd blog about tonight.

My husband was out of town this weekend, so I had hired a babysitter for two hours on Sunday morning so I could run. Problem was, my motivation level was pathetic. Not complaining about some time in the Sunshine State, but I had a vacation hangover, which stems from too much time in a cramped airplane seat, kids that are totally out of whack from a two-hour time change, way too much laundry, an empty fridge and the general malaise that sets in when something you've looked forward to for so long is over. Plus, lying wide awake at 11:30 last night in bed, I knew I was going to feel wiped before I even started.

But I had a new Fuel Belt to try and it was warm enough for a skirt. Nothing like some superficial motivation. I decided to do the easiest run, both mentally and physically, I could think of. Ten miles of out-and-back on the Highline Canal, a gravel path that is as flat as my chest was at age thirteen. I'd bring my wallet, just in case I, um, for whatever reason just couldn't finish ten miles; I could end the run early and head to the grocery store. (See above: cavernous fridge.)

Babysitter came, I drove over to the Canal. Crazy weather was coming in--it was in the 80's yesterday, and snow was coming this afternoon--and the winds were kicking up and dark clouds were moving in. I parked on a slight incline, put my key in the Fuel Belt pocket. Pushed the lock on the door. Stepped out to tie my shoes. Bent down, out of the way of the open door. Bad decision. The combination of the fierce wind and the slight incline blew the door shut. Sh*(.

So I run back to my house, which takes about 25 minutes one way. No gels, no water in my new belt, no music. Actually, not so bad, except that there's a freakin' 1-mile hill I have to climb to get there and the wind isn't playing nice. So much for my flat, chill run.

I arrive home, grab another key and have to will myself back out the front door, even though I know I have to get the van.  The whole way back to it, I pretty much have to talk myself out of just quitting at the car and heading to the store, where I could get a latte and shop, kid-free, at my leisure. At a minimum, we needed eggs, chocolate chips, butter, and some jelly beans. I've had chocolate chip cookies on my brain for days, and what's a trip to the store around Easter without some love from Brach's?

The only thing that countered my argument is that I had already run for almost 60 minutes, and had 35-40 more to get to 10 miles.  If I quit, I'd have to run those six again, plus four more. And when was I going to do that? I made up a really sophisticated training schedule for the Country Music Half-Marathon, which adds one mile to my long runs every weekend, so I am up for 11 this coming weekend. Was I going to get up way early Tuesday morning to get in 10 again? Not likely.

I took a longer route back to the car, getting me there around 65 minutes. Put the new keys between my teeth as I put on the new Fuel Belt and keyed up my tunes. Then I hit the trail I meant to be on all along and ran, through the rain, for about 95 minutes total, which puts me somewhere between 9-10 miles. (I forgot to charge my Garmin: another speed bump in today's run.)

As I pulled up to the car again, with two different keys to open it (so many options!), I was chilly, nauseous and had no runner's-high to speak of. Still, I was psyched that I had hung in there; I feel like I gained an important ounce of mental toughness today.

More importantly, I had an a-ha moment that will hopefully ease any future sleepless nights: when I don't have a plan, the universe usually does.

48 responses to “Handing Over the Reins

  1. this is why i follow this blog – because it’s so nice to get little bursts of inspiration when i am trying to talk myself out of a run – you posts always remind me that everyone has days where the idea of running sucks, but we always feel SO MUCH better when we do it.

  2. I am SO glad I am not the only one who goes to sleep stressing about my chosen route for my long runs. Every time I do it, I think, just go to sleep and figure it out in the a.m. But I toss and turn instead…so frustrating! It is good to get those runs that don’t go well out of the way so you know you are bound to have a great one next time!

  3. I had to come back to this today. I left my wallet at home and can’t get out of the parking ramp at work. My along-the-river run during the workday has now turned into a run-the-shortest-route-home for my checkbook — at least I was planning for a 5 miler!

  4. Way to tough it out… I hate it when I have days like that. So not fun. But you DID it anyway! Bravo, girl!

    BTW, my chest was pretty durned flat at 13, too (and hasn’t really grown all that much since)… but that’s probably a revelation best left for TMI Tuesday, huh?!

  5. I so look forward to your Monday posts because it’s always a great story and a dose of inspiration. Right on again.

  6. You didn’t answer one very important question though – what did you think of the new fuel belt?? I will be in the market for one soon and was thinking of the amphipod since I’d seen you guys recommend it before. Should I consider this brand instead?

    1. Hey Kelly: I liked it. Didn’t bug me, which is a huge compliment for something like that. Wish the pocket in it was big enough for a BB or iphone, but it’s not. My only real complaint is that I need more than two bottles, so I’d need to buy another one. Easy enough to do, but just one more thing on the to-do list. 🙂

      1. Thanks for responding Dimity! I really like the look of this fuel belt, but the pocket not being big enough for an iphone might be a deal breaker for me! I just got an iphone a few weeks ago, and just discovered Runkeeper thanks to some lovely ladies on the Facebook page. I’m not minding holding my iphone for now on my little 3K runs, but as I work my way back up to some loner runs that might get annoying.

  7. Love it!! I had a run like that a week ago. Last long run before my half and I was scheduled to get in 10. I’d already gotten in 12 the week before and couldn’t get my last long run in till Sunday. With the half on Saturday I didn’t feel too much pressure to get all the way to 10 so I set out with the thought that as long as I’d get close, I’d be happy. The run felt great. Saw the sunrise, had lots of peace and quiet. Then that feeling hit. The one that tells you that you aren’t gonna make it home and you have to get to a bathroom NOW. (pretty sure it was the chocolate mousse that I SO should NOT have eaten the night before) Had to make a stop at a truck stop. Funny thing is, when I got home I was not as upset as I should have been. Even when I stopped, my heart rate was level, my breathing was good. And when I checked my route online to see how far I’d run? 9.11 miles. I had to laugh at that. And did I mention that all of this was on my 31st birthday? Sometimes we don’t get what we want, but we get what we need. 🙂

  8. Good job mama!
    The universe is out of tilt here too. Also coming off vacation high with full knowledge that triathlon training started today. It also happens to be the week of my oldest’s confirmation – so there’s a party and out of town over night guests to prepare for. It’s going to take a lot of training schedule gerry-mandering to get it done. You will be my inspiration this week!

  9. This sounds like my luck when I am trying to tackle a long run that I am not really feeling. It’s so great that you hung in there and got it finished though. Great job!

  10. There’s a song out right now called “This Is the Stuff” and it so fits…sometimes things don’t go the way we plan, but it’s all used for good. Very fitting these days. Way to use what life handed you 🙂

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