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My body complained as I got out of bed on Wednesday. I felt old—just old: there’s no better way to describe it. If this is an alien concept to you, give it some time.

Intellectually, I knew I had to run, but my body took some convincing. I had half a cup of coffee and an apple and contemplated the bright morning sky. The tractors were not yet barreling down the roads—it was a perfect time to run. I ate a bowl of rice.

I got dressed and stood at my window for a while. Then, I tied my shoes. While the kids were still yawning over their oatmeal, I re-tied my shoes in a more sporty manner. I set my watch to heart rate mode and began to play with the dog.

I suddenly realized this run could either be done the easy way or the hard way. I could talk myself into a great run, or I would run and be miserable (like my ‘Borg’ run from last week). Quitting was not an option. I made it out to the driveway; and with my face in the sunshine, I made the choice to be fake happy.

 Chapter Four of The Non-Runners’ Marathon Trainer deals with behavior and attitude. Basically, if you lie to yourself enough, your body will eventually believe it. This does not apply to thinking yourself thin by eating only ice cream. However, mindset is absolutely vital in marathoning.

The first mile was spent warming up my muscles and squelching negative thoughts. Whenever I thought I was too old, too tired, too fragile, I pretended to be a champion runner. I LOVED running. I could run all day! Old only applies to shoes with more than 400 miles on them! I WAS happy! Right? Right? Miraculously, somewhere between mile 1 and my first steep hill, the fake happy became authentic. And I saw deer on the ridgeline.

As I approached, they simultaneously turned their heads to admire my smooth gait. This may sound like the plot from Balto 2, but I felt somehow connected to these animals. We tread across the same patchwork quilt countryside. Plus, deer are strong and graceful–things I aspire to be. I felt validated in my choice to get out and run. 

Naturally, the deer sprinted off when I approached, but I kept the vision of them with me during the run. Whenever I wanted to stop and “just check my heart rate,” I would ask myself if there was a physical reason to stop: Was my metatarsal fractured? Was I going into cardiogenic shock? Was I syncopal? If the answer was “no,” I kept running.

I focused on the movement of my arms and legs, maintaining a smooth cadence, and rhythmic breathing. I know I didn’t look it, but I felt as swift and powerful as the deer gliding across the hills.

Stats:

Miles: 5 Wednesday

180 Thursday—in the car, 0 running.

Weather: Wednesday: Sunny in the low 50s. Perfect!

Wildlife: 13 deer, 2 jackrabbits, hundreds of birds, 1 tractor, and 1 old lady with her Nordic walking sticks (same lady as Tuesday—she smiled at me this time).

Overall feeling: empowered.

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