For some reason today felt like the first run since The Rut. It wasn’t. I’ve been running most days since the race, but I don't remember feeling much when I ran after the Rut. Maybe circumstance, my mother-in-law dying, maybe fatigue, or likely both, but today was the first day I EXPERIENCED my run. I felt alive and aware again. And I felt a deep connection with nature. I don't know that you can experience it through my ramblings, but I wish you could feel it. ...It is heaven.
The run itself actually should’ve been a little hellish. Strength/Speedwork. It was 79 degrees with 75% humidity. It would be a midday run, typically not my best time to run....I'm a morning girl. The agenda: Warm up getting to HR zone 4 by 30 minutes, then 5 x 5 min "near max" effort intervals followed by a 20-30min recovery/cool down.
I took a water bottle figuring I would need it for the hour and a half to 2 hours I would be out.
I got ready to head out down the rolling gravel road just across the river bridge. Before long, this old steel river bridge will no longer exist. The road crew is working on a new concrete bridge. I received a few waves and nodding heads as I prepared to head out. As I took off, clear blue-green Illinois river rambled to my left. The river is low this time of year making the bottom easy to see. The trees still full of mostly green leaves, with few hints of gold and orange and providing much appreciated intermittent shade. I felt my HR rising as I went, increasing my effort gradually to get warmed up. Increasing effort, increasing effort then around 30minute in, bang! Off I went for the first of 5 speed intervals. Heart pounding, the minutes never seem longer than during these intervals. Gauging, "ok Lori, that next tree, that next tree is likely a minute”, “ok, that bend in the road ahead, that should be 2 minutes”, “the top of that hill”, and so on. No music to distract, staying right in the moment, feeling that effort, that fine line of sustainable/unsustainable and adjusting to keep it there, keep it there, keep it there, just 1 more minute...30 seconds...keep it there, duhuun! Hands on knees, walk a bit, jog a bit, get ready to go again. The water I brought to drink not palatable, only able to tolerate a little, the rest used to pour a little after each interval on top of my head, neck and face in attempt quell the sensation that my head was going to spontaneously combust right off of my shoulders. I needed more on me than in me. 3rd one came around, feeling the fatigue by 3-4 min, quick peek at watch, a little disappointed at more time left than i had anticipated, the wind picks up, the leaves rustle, I imagined their encouraging me, "go lori, finish strong". Soooo awesome to feel the wind and hear the trees. I instinctively picked it up as if being cheered on by a crowd. A crowd of trees. Last interval, "ok, Lori, this is the one that counts, let's do this", "focus, focus, focus"..the trees were quiet. Just my breathing, following my breath with my steps... in in ouuuut, in in ouuuut. Everything seemed silent, just steps and breath. Arms pumping, thinking, "this is the one that really counts, the one that defines how well you managed the other 4", "hold it, hold it". Aaaand done! Hands on knees, then walk, then shuffle, jog. The sun seemed brighter. The leaves more vibrant. The wind more audible. Connected. I felt like i could hear, feel, and really see today. I hope you can too.