As I squinted at the glowing clock beside the bed, I was excited to see it was time to get up. My partner Candace and I were rising early to drive to Iowa for my Sunday morning long run. Then, we would follow that with a morning spent with our two nephews, Gregory and Sammy.
For the day, I was abandoning my regular route to run along Iowa’s beautiful Wabash Trace Nature Trail. The limestone-packed, tree-lined trail has quickly become a favourite of mine since making the transition from Saskatoon to Omaha a few months ago. With it’s soft surface, stunning scenery, and shade-providing cover, the trail is ideal for long runs.
Being only three-weeks out from running the half-marathon at the Nebraska Marathon, I had high expectations leading into this two-hour run. The conditions were ideal being that the temperature was much cooler. The stage was set for a great day, but on the way, we had to take a detour, cutting 15 minutes off my run. Ultimately though, that was just a small thing. With no time to fit in a warm-up, I took off.
It quickly turned into one of those runs where you never quite settle in. My legs felt heavy, my breathing felt off, a former injury started nagging again. I kept it at a medium effort (as was my intention) but it wasn’t as fast a pace as I had hoped for at this point in my training. As I came into my last mile, I couldn’t deny it: I was disappointed. When I finished, I lost all perspective and was upset with myself. With no time for a cool-down or a mental reality check, I jumped into the car and we sped back to Omaha.
I talked it through with Candace. She asked “What are some positives to take from it?” I responded with a childish “nothing.” She reminded me that the ebbs and flows are inherent to any training block. It helped. It was like I had forgotten that. I ate my protein bar, drank my water and started sorting through it more rationally. I checked my pacing again. It was decent. I reminded myself it was one training session, not my entire career. I also reminded myself that as far as injuries go, I’m doing everything possible to stay healthy and that I’ve had some solid sessions recently.
Then, I got out of my own head and thought about the day we had ahead of us with Gregory and Sammy. It was a beautiful fall day to spend with these little guys. Six-year-old Gregory, is a keen runner who I’ve taken on numerous runs and even raced with. By the time we arrived to pick them up, I had gain back a little perspective but was still a bit bothered by my run.
With Gregory and Sammy in the car, it was was obvious that they were excited for the morning ahead. We would play hockey in our basement, indoor basketball upstairs and then hit the farmer’s market where they would get to explore the children’s art festival. We were all looking forward to the day ahead.
When we got closer to our place, we approached the nearby park where I run almost daily. I turned around and asked Gregory if he felt like going for a run. He smiled and said “yes.” Candace pulled over and dropped us off. We had a nice little jog through the park, around the ponds, over the bridge and back up the hill to our house. Along the way we chatted and I thought to myself, “What a wonderful way to finish up the last 15 minutes of my run.”
Later that day when we said goodbye to the boys, Candace asked Gregory what his favorite part of the day was. I learned later that evening that his response was “Running with Tara.” His favourite part of the day wouldn’t have happened if I had stayed in a bad mood. I learned that sometimes, expectations can be fleeting. Ultimately, running is a way of life. What’s it worth if it isn’t shared?