Smiles, Fartleks, and Overdressing

Saturday is my long-run day.  I look forward to that 1.5 to 2 hours the way I used to look forward to happy hours.  Despite the fact the I have an intense dislike for cold, I bundled myself up in compression pants, under armour, and two pairs of gloves and set off for some ME time.  Twenty minutes later, I was desperately shedding layers on the side of a back road, struggling with sweat-drenched gear.  So…lesson learned.  Cold is not as cold when one is running…and not every strip show is sexy…
That little episode did not help my first thirty minutes – what I have come to consider my “vegetable” portion of the run.  As in, I know I have to do it to get past that wall and on to the “dessert.”  That first thirty minutes is a suck-it-up-stop-whining-clinging-to-a-mantra struggle EVERY SINGLE TIME.  I swear at 29 minutes, I picture myself as a dehydrated, sunburnt victim in the desert, barely crawling my way to rescue…but at 30 minutes, I am a running goddess.  That runner’s high kicks into high gear and nothing can stop me.  Not even the drivers passing and tossing me dirty looks because they have to slightly move over to share their road.
Which makes me sorry for them…first of all, they’re driving, not running.  Is this why they are so grumpy? Is it too much for their frail arms to turn that wheel just a teensy bit and navigate closer to the center? I choose to ignore them and focus on the FABULOSITY of the drivers who grin, wave, and give me the thumbs up as they zoom past, sometimes all the way on the opposite side of the road.  I imagine these people are runners, too, and understand that feel of the sun; the way the winter fields glow golden at the right time of day; how while running along the back roads, you notice the changes of the seasons a little more, appreciate the special lighting of winter vs. summer and fall vs. spring…and they are happy to see someone else share in that joy.  Or, it could be that they’re laughing at my mismatched clothing and crazy poof of hair bursting out of my sweatband…
My other favorite part of long-distance running? The running.  I am currently training with walk/run intervals, but I love a good Beastie Boys-induced fartlek! Running through that walking interval just because it feels right and good…There’s nothing quite like it, and as a nice side bonus, my timing is greatly improved.  I’ll always be the tortoise, but I’m a tortoise with a need for (a tiny bit of) speed.

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