Wednesday, February 5, 2014

In which Roseanne Cash speaks directly to me

When you are training to run 40 miles, there's really no getting around doing long training runs. And while the longest-of-the-long can obviously be accomplished on weekends there's no getting around doing some long-ish runs during the work week. For me, this means...

1. setting the alarm for 4AM
2. turning off said alarm and checking my email
3. checking the weather
4. checking Facebook
5. re-checking the weather
6. only THEN dragging my butt out of bed
7. proceeding to the pellet stove, which I hope-against-hope is still running so I can be toasty warm
8. layer up based on yet another weather-check since I cannot, at that hour, retain what the temperature and wind chill actually are
9. eating a Gu or half a  banana and downing some water
10. making sure I have a couple or 3 decent podcasts ready to talk me through the run
11. And then FINALLY heading out the door.... at about 4:30.

Once I'm out there it's very peaceful. Unless the moon happens to be full or almost-full, there's nothing to see except the tunnel of light from my headlamp. Yes, I'm still exhausted, but at this point in my training, feeling sleepy-tired is not really a factor in whether or not I can put one foot in front of the other. I have an autopilot setting, of sorts, that just kicks in. It's not very fast, but it's certainly respectable for an Old Bag like me.

Today as I pondered the 'light tunnel' ahead of me, a wonderful conversation was happening on the Slate Culture Gabfest between the hosts and Roseanne Cash. She was talking about writing lyrics and poetry and books and she referred to another author she admired (sorry, I can't remember which one!). She said (basically) that writing a novel is like driving in the dark. You can only see the short distance before you that the headlights illuminate, but you know you can get home.

If I knew how to make speech bubbles, she would totally be saying, "Hey, Phoebe. I get you."


That is SO my early morning runs.

Especially on overcast mornings like this. We had snow all day but when I hit the road it hadn't started yet. It seemed unlikely that we would get a snow day because, literally, there was not a flake. I was not able to see the sky and the snow clouds that were rolling in. All I could see was triangle of light in front of me. I could perceive the hills I was going up and down (and, boy, howdy, we've got plenty of them!) based on the effort my legs and lungs were putting in, but there was no gazing ahead in order to dread the next incline. There was no way-in-the-distance turn around point. There was just that stride. And then the next. And the next.

(Oh, and the little voice every 1/2 mile on the Strava phone app I am now using for GPS/workout tracking. I can't forget her. She is VITAL!)

As the snow started to fall - and my hopes of a snowday began to increase - the visibility became even more obscured. You know what it feels like to drive with your brights on in a snow or rain storm? That's what it feels like to run with a headlamp on in moderate or heavy precipitation. Only, thank goodness, you're not afraid of having an accident. (What a relief, since there's really no way to 'turn down your brights'!) The road quickly became snow covered. I stopped looking up in an attempt to identify landmarks because it was blinding. I kept my eyes on the dark line that seemed to indicate the shoulder of the road. The traffic, always limited to 5 or 8 cars, was literally non-existant on this wintry morning and my route was not one that required thought: run to the end of the road, take a left. Pretty straight forward. I am not one to meditate - though Lord knows I could use it - but this felt pretty close.

I don't know if these long miles I'm putting in are 'junk miles'. I don't know if they are really helping my physical fitness or just wearing me out. But I do know that every time I get back to the house, just about 6AM, I am still a little surprised at what I have just done. Most people are still in bed and I've just burned about 1,000 calories.

And even though my kids are not at all impressed with my feats and just want their breakfast and help finding their library books and homework folders....
and even though by 10AM I am ready to hide under my desk for a long nap...
and even though by 7:30PM I am literally in my pajamas and laying out my clothes by the pellet stove for the next day's run....
and even though by 9PM I am closing my book or turning off the screens so that I can go to sleep....

it's not a bad way to start your day.

Also? It's pretty badass.

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