I watched "Man on Fire" for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I now hear Denzel's voice in my ear, "There is no such thing as tough. There is trained and untrained. Now which are you?"
I aspire to be trained. I penned out a plan to be one of the trained. I set out to train for this upcoming half with a purpose. But I gotta tell you, this training thing is hard work some days.
I had a long run last Friday. The longest one yet. I intended to run on a trail skirting a lake. Out and back, since to run the entire trail, I'd run a half marathon, and if I was ready to do that, I wouldn't be training. But on my way to the lake, I stopped on a national forest road that I am familiar with. Two lanes. Few motorists. I have often seen bicyclist there, but never runners.
I'd clocked the perfect distance on my odometer. I knew where my turnaround point would be. And I knew running this two lane highway, out and back, would be a better simulator of race day next month than any run on a dirt trail could give me.
But oh, it was hard work.
The sun didn't know if wanted to shine or send rain pouring down on my head. I like trails and corners. I do not like running straight stretches. Never have. They seem endless somehow.
My legs felt heavy from the get-go. Like the weight of the clouds pressed down upon me, and I was feeling it all. The struggle to propel myself forward through the air around me.
Mile markers on the forest road were sporadic. I am a list maker, and when I run, I like to see those mile markers tick by, one by one, as I mentally calculate the distance I've run and how much farther I have to go.
One-third of the way done.
Over half-way there.
Only a 5k left.
That last mile, I huffed and puffed. So close. And yet, uphill. Any passerby at the end might have thought I'd gone insane.
You've seen children playing ball in the backyard, providing their own play-by-play as they hit a game winning home run, "It's going, it's going, it's out of the park!" Haven't you?
When it's hard to run, when I want to be the trained, but I don't know if I can keep going to the finish, even when I know it is so close, I become my own announcer and cheering section. Like a child playing ball alone in the backyard, out loud I tell myself through short, shallow breathes,
"You're almost there, Shelby."
"Keep it up!"
"You can make it."
"Go. Go. Go!"
I did finish that run and drove myself home. When I got there, it took me 15 minutes to convince myself to get out of the car and walk the 6 steps into my back door. Finally inside, I sat down on my recliner and fell asleep for a solid hour. Completely spent.