You have to push past the part that sucks to see the benefits.
Yesterday I ran the hilly 10+ mile trail that I (kind of) ran last week. This time it was 3 degrees with some wind and although it was still tough, it went markedly better than last week. I met three other people and their dogs at and shortly after we headed out onto the trail around the lake. I was trying to seem outwardly confident with the voice in my head working overtime saying “you really need to do better today”, “I can’t come away from this feeling like last time or I am in trouble”. I pushed them aside and focused on the trail. That is one benefit to running trails; if you do not stay focused they will remind you very quickly. If you are near me during a run you may hear me from time to time saying “pick up your feet” or “stay focused” and yes I have been made aware that I say it out loud. It was so cold that the water that we were carrying started to freeze and jell packs were almost solid. Other than that, the views were amazing with the fog rolling off the lake and seeing the hawks gliding through the air, not to mention the entertainment of the three dogs that were escorting us. One in particular would run ahead and every so often stop and go to the side and look back until he saw the last person coming and then he would run ahead again.
At the halfway point there is a big field you come out into, so it is a good spot to eat something and have a drink in anticipating all the hills coming up. As I cross the field watching one of the hawks on a hunt I realize I am glad that I have come out here twice before the race next weekend. This would be a rude awakening coming out here for the first time with 149 other people and no idea what to expect. Now the voices have become more positive saying “just keep moving forward” and that is what I do. With a couple of miles to go I notice my headband is freezing to my glasses and around my ears. I decide to take it off (thinking I was closer to the end that I was) and I had to hold it on my hand until it thawed out some so I could put it back on. A couple of times I had to take my gloves off and cover my ears to keep them from burning. I was able to put it back on and head up the last couple of hills. My quads burning from the hills made me forget about my cold ears, and I kept reminding myself that I was getting close to the end. Two and a half hours after we started we exited the trail and our vehicles came into view. I quickly peeled of my wind breaker and wet gloves and headband and replaced them with a dry pullover and a stocking cap and got the heater going in my Jeep. All in all I was frozen but felt a sense of achievement and counted it as a success.
This morning (Sunday) it was 13 degrees warmer (16) and sleeting and snowing and my wife and I went out to run. She had her route and I was going to play it by ear and see how I felt. I was pleasantly surprised once my muscles warmed up, I felt pretty good. Reminding myself that this was a recovery run and I did not have to push the pace and only needed to keep it comfortable. As I ran I focused only on good form and enjoying the crunching of the snow under my feet. There is something special about being the first tracks in the snow and how quiet and peaceful it makes everything. But most of all I realize how easy this run feels; only one foot in front of the other and not very hilly. Something I have told clients in the past comes to mind and that is “you have to get past the part that sucks to see the benefits.” So the work will continue and I will make the trips to challenge the beast this winter. As for predictions past that; I have no idea at this time other than I want to continue to enjoy what I am doing!