As my Fall 5o journey nears the end of the road (pun intended), I took a moment this past weekend to look back at some of my blog posts from this summer. I have to say, some were hard to read. I guess I had forgotten how horrible some of my training runs were or how low I was mentally and emotionally at some points along the way. The negative emotions came flooding back and I remembered a lot of the difficulties that I’ve endured. And while it was hard to read some of the older posts because it reminded me of how hard this whole thing has been, it also made me a bit excited that I got through it! At some points, I wasn’t so sure I was going to make it through. And while there were so, so, so, so many difficult times, I feel it’s only fair to give props to some of the not so difficult times.
While it didn’t seem like it from my older/angry posts, I did try to find things that I enjoyed while training and I tried really hard to appreciate the simple things. So, as I’m within 11 days from the event, I think it is only fair to list some of the things I enjoyed about my training.
- Spotting deer while running. Brian’s trained me well, I’m really pretty good at being able to spot a deer, even from a distance. I would typically see the most deer at dawn or dusk, The sliver of sun, a wooded area and a peaceful deer staring at me from a distance… so serene!
- Random bird sightings. Turkeys are pretty plentiful around Green Bay, but sometimes you can approach them pretty close before they freak out and take off running. Turkeys crack me up, they are seriously such a stupid bird! While running in DC, I spotted a handful of Blue Jays, which I was very excited about because one lone Blue Jay has started coming to our bird feeder at home and I’ve never seen Blue Jays hanging around before so I’m a bit obsessed with them now. So I’m excited to see more of them. I also saw a woodpecker. Actually I heard him before I saw him. He was really big, bigger than I had expected. I had never actually a woodpecker in person, it took me by surprise.
- A lone fox. The only other wildlife of note that I spotted on my run was a fox. I’m 95% sure it was a fox. It was about a 1/2 mile ahead but by all accounts, it’s the only animal it could have been. It wasn’t a dog or cat, I’m pretty sure it was a fox.
- The random support from strangers. The woman who clapped for me when I ran past her, the walkers in Door County that wished me luck, the elderly gentlemen getting coffee at the gas station that were concerned but supportive, the older woman who was taking out her garbage as I ran past that said, “you get it, girl” or the tween boy who high-fived me as he rode past me on his bike…. unsolicited support from complete strangers – man, every single encounter meant the world to me. And none of them have any idea what impact it had on me!
- Tourist scenes from Door County. I have to say, this falls under the love and hate columns. As I was running past them, and running for hours and hours and hours, I hated what I was seeing and I wanted to secretly hurt all the tourists I was running past in Door County, but in truth, some of it was really beautiful. I could have filmed a tourist commercial for DC. The people doing yoga on paddleboards, the other yogis practicing on the beach, the speed boats and sail boats, the families biking through the State Park, the girlfriends window shopping, the young family playing on the beach, the elderly couples talking early morning strolls holding hands, and the college guys having their early morning coffee while shaking off a bit of a hangover… all memories I love and hate. I only hope to do most of those next year myself and while I’m doing it I hope to spot a runner run past in the midst of his/her training!
- Stunning sunrises and beautiful scenic views. The only good thing about getting up before dawn is seeing the sunrise. And there were a few pre-dawn Door County runs that allowed me to see the sun rise bounce off of the water. So beautiful. Besides beautiful sunrises, I’ve seen other beautiful snapshots from under the brim of my running hat: fresh cut hay, trees forming a canopy over the road, rocks dangling from the bluff over the edge of the road and wooded trails with foliage so pretty it reminded me of my childhood and playing in the country woods. It’s not too often you get to see so much beauty, over and over again.
- Laughs. I don’t think anyone is more shocked by this one, than I am. Brian and I have never spent so much time together doing something difficult then the time we’ve spent together during my training, yet we not only didn’t kill each other, we managed to have some laughs. I didn’t once stab him during some grueling training runs, instead I surprised myself and had a good laugh or two with him. Brian driving past me ringing the cowbell and clapping the clapper at 6am when all the Door County tourists were still sleeping and when I reminded him that people were trying to sleep, he did it even louder. For some reason, that just made my day. It was a wake up call for all of those sleeping tourists… literally! And let’s not forget about the time he had Curtis hanging out the window as he drove past, or when he was biking with a smiley faced helium balloon on his bike helmet. Yep, I managed to laugh even though most of the time I wanted to cry.
- Sense of accomplishment. I have to say the best thing about my Fall 5o training was the sense of accomplishment when the training run was done. There were many times I didn’t think I could go on and didn’t think I would finish my run, but when I did, the overwhelming sense of accomplishment and joy was huge. Once, when my run ended at the very edge of the park – where the Fall 50 finish line is located – I started to cry. At that point, it was one of my longest runs ever and it was within eyesight of where I’ll be finishing the Fall 50. I couldn’t help but cry. And my last long run, the 9 hour/38-miler, made me throw my hands up in the air as if I had won the Super Bowl. I couldn’t help it, it was completely spontaneous; when my watch hit 38.00 I threw both of my arms up in the air and let out a victory scream. I did this even though there were cars driving past and looking at me like I was a crazy woman. But I didn’t care. I had just ran 38 miles in 8 hours and 57 minutes and I was fricken ecstatic. I had never been so proud of myself and I felt so accomplished.
This sense of accomplishment is what’s going to help me keep going during the Fall 50. I’m sure there will be plenty of times throughout that day where I’m going to struggle but knowing how I felt when I didn’t stop during my training runs, and how good it felt when I was done, will motivate me to keep moving. I truly can’t imagine what finishing the Fall 50 will actually feel like and how much more of a sense of accomplishment I’ll have when the day is over. I crave this feeling. I need this feeling. This feeling will help get me to the finish line.
Until next time,