I know that you have been regarding your upcoming 50-mile race with some healthy trepidation. In your preparation for the Heartland 50, you have had the opportunity to see a lot of beautiful things and experience the best and the worst of training. I just wanted to send you this note to ask you:
In the middle of your race, will you remember the time you found yourself at the planned turnaround point of a training run, but there was a steep, 0.25-mile-long hill in front of you … so instead of turning around, you kept going up?
Will you remember the time you walked in the front door from a four-hour run feeling guilty about missing out on a lazy Saturday morning with your five-year-old daughter … only to find her sitting on the dining room table, a big smile on her face, crafting your own personalized drop bag (“…for all your gels, Mom…”) out of a paper grocery sack, colored Sharpie markers, and Elmer’s glue?
Will you remember the day your legs were tired and you stayed up too late drinking margaritas with friends … but you still went out the door into a penetrating mist just to put another 13 miles on your legs?
When your legs feel like lead and your feet are blistered and it’s the middle of the night and the wind won’t stop blowing and all you want to do is find a warm place to curl yourself up into a stinky, defeated ball … will you remember the time the thunder rolled through the treetops and the trail turned to slop under your feet and you felt like you could fly?
I hope you can remember — and if you don’t, I hope someone who reads this blog will, and they might remind you when the time is right. Because the hours of training are not just about tearing down muscle or building cardiovascular strength. The training is also about stashing away these memories, the moments in time when you chose to make yourself stronger, to work toward this goal, and it’s about the spiritual experiences that make every bruised toenail, sour stomach, aching knee, and stinky load of laundry well worth your time.