It has definitely been a bit warmer these days....although anything above single digits and minus zero wind chills will feel warmer.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the spring-like weather I encountered while completing a long run in Chicago.....with 20 inches of snow from the blizzard a week earlier piled up everywhere....and slowly melting causing major puddles, slush and mud patches.
Regardless, training for a marathon in Central Illinois in the winter is tough. Mother Nature apparently does not care that I am training to run in a Team LIVESTRONG event....raising over $3,000 to date. Or maybe she does care....and wants me to toughen up....and be more aware that the difficulties I am facing while running are nothing in comparison to those fighting cancer.
Since that unseasonable warm day a few weeks ago, I have since completed 2 additional long runs in my training for the Honda LA Marathon.
The first - an 18 miler in some much cooler weather (30's but with lots of wind) was broken into two separate legs. A rather fast 10 miler (well it felt fast considering I had an additional 8 miles to go after wards) with two of my running crew. We were in a pretty open area and it was difficult to escape the famous Midwest wind. My hip flexers were feeling it in the last 3 miles as we ran directly into the wind.
I moved locations for the remaining 8 - jumped into my car for a quick jaunt to our local running trail that runs between a wooded area so I was afforded a little protection from the wind.....along with bathroom and water accessibility at our Amtrak station. Another major drawback to marathon length long runs in the winter - all the porta potties are removed from the trail and the water fountains turned off. I definitely have to "plan" quite a bit more on these runs than I ever need to in the spring, summer and fall.
That last 8 miles went considerably well and I felt great all along the way. So good that I was on the treadmill the next day for an "easy" 3 miler that turned into speedwork.....and actually made it to a CrossFit class on Monday. Take that 18 miler!
This past weekend a 20 miler was on the schedule. I was feeling rather tired on Saturday morning and had absolutely no motivation. "So, I run on Sunday morning instead," I thought as I poured another cup of coffee and curled up under a blanket to watch the past weeks DVR selections. This was the first Saturday in months that there was no basketball game, practice, play, rehearsals, set-design, speech tournaments, etc, etc, etc. This is a rare occurrence and I was set on relaxing.
I woke up Sunday morning after having a full 12 hours of sleep (what????) and still feeling rather sluggish. A few in my running group were going out at noon so I thought I would join them....and enjoy another lazy morning (this could become addicting). A plan to meet others was perfect motivation because it was a rather dreary day....certainly a great one to again escape under a blanket with a book, movie or puzzle.
Soon it was noon. Off we went. It was overcast and chilly, but not too bad overall. After stopping in at the train station 4 miles in to our run, we were greeted with a torrential downpour. Certainly this would have been a welcome surprise it it was July but not today. 30 degrees is perfect for running.....but not when it is raining. One of the LIVESTRONG Chics was with me (the Swimmer Chic)....she and the other Chic are joining me for the Honda LA Marathon. Swimmer Chic had a 16 mile run to complete so, again, off we went. The others were doing a short 10 miles and turned back soon after the rain began.
This was not the same experience I had in Chicago or the week before (see A Much Needed Break from Winter....Has Spring Sprung?). I had only one gel with me and had forgotten to grab a Gatorade....so water pretty much hydrated the two of us along the way. (A mistake I will NEVER make again!). Oh, and lets not forget the driving rain and wind along with the chills we were both feeling as a result of that weather. Our muscles were just plain tight....there was no changing that....our clothes were soaked through and through. But onward we went.....pushed by each other and the goal of getting to LA.
Once I got to the 16 mile mark with Swimmer Chic, I could have easily stopped (my car was just a few steps away). But the thought of getting just 4 miles away from completing a 20 miler....and having to think about doing it next weekend instead....propelled me forward. I won't kid you, those last 4 miles were not fun. I strategically ran an out and back route with a bit of a hill on it so I could take advantage of the downhill and wind to my back on the return. 1.25 miles remaining.
I kept pushing myself....reminding myself that the last 6 miles of the marathon wouldn't be any easier (although I am hoping that it may be a bit warmer in LA??) and once again, the thoughts of the pain those I love endured in their battles against cancer reminded me that this feeling for the last 1.25 miles was just an inconvenience to me....it wasn't life or death. So get your butt moving Barb!
Just another reminder of why I am running this race....thanks Mother Nature!
And thanks to all my supporters.....we have hit the $3,000 mark.....can we get to $4,000 before the race? Please use the link below if you would like to make an on-line donation.