Training Into 26.2

Today was my worst training day in recent memory.

It’s important to document the bad days, because even the best have them, and I am not one of the best.  I am simply trying to complete 26.2.  While my month ago half-marathon length was an easy accomplishment of strength and recovery, today’s abbreviated trip was a six-mile wipe out.  I intended to do eight, but thankfully I listened to my body, and turned around at three miles.  Less than a half-a-mile later I was dizzy, near fainting. legs shaking, I think it was yesterday’s diet.

That’s my guess.  That and some other lurking reasons, strange sleep schedule, recent move, emotional up and downs, though I’m not certain.  But today was a stunning crash and burn, less than a month and a half to 26.2.  Even stranger, the hills here are gentle slopes, like the roadways that most people train on.  Unlike my home in New Hampshire, now two weeks gone, in which arduous inclines met me less than a quarter of a mile from doorstep.

I’m now in Maine — if there were any doubt, I am officially a “Maineiac” — and the remote landscape characterizing my last two years has become less remote, though still rural..  My primary training road is Route 25, a thoroughfare for logging trucks, gas and oil rigs, and commuters.   No remote backwoods, no arduous inclines, just roadways characterized by the occasional rise and fall.

This isn’t the land of epic hills, personal epiphanies, or deep communion with trees.  It’s poor and rural, and a little easier to navigate, in myriad ways.

Because this is a rural area, like suburbia, most folks commute.  Foot traffic isn’t common, let alone a female alone between villages spread five miles apart.

When I lived in New Hampshire, I’d run into neighbors on Route 25 after leaving the back roads, to loop back home.  “Aren’t you afraid of 25,” they’d ask, with true concern furrowed in their brows.  “No,” I’d say.  Sometimes I’d add that I have my Higher Power, and always say a protection prayer before going out.  Sometimes not.  Depended on the audience, depended on my mood.

I suppose if one wants to invoke “faith,” training and creativity and love are the primary grounds.  We can burn ourselves into old habits that keep us safe, or we can dare to push ourselves, and experience a depth of life that safety won’t ever offer us.

If one chooses life, there’s not time for fear.  Due diligence, yes.  Fear, no.

Is Route 25 safe?  Maybe, maybe not.  But it’s the road I’m taking, because I’d rather say a protection prayer and hit the road then worry about whether such naiveté really works, and decide that its best to stay at home, because there are big, bad logging trucks that go really fast, and have little regard for a woman on foot in the middle of nowhere.

Today a truck sped past me, and the smell of cut pine and the wind from its speed bathed me in wood and wind, a kind of brilliant respite in an otherwise hellacious training day, in which I nearly passed out more than half-a-dozen times, no exaggeration.

There’s always a different way of looking at things, and more than once a semi has cooled me down, put the wind in my sails, helped me go another quarter of a mile until a real breeze lifted me.

It’s not about circumstances, it’s about the Mind one brings to those circumstances, and what alternative stories one will cull when one chooses Life over fear.

Today was my worst training day in recent memory, yet I suspect it is a turning point in taking me into 26.2.  If for no other reason, today I saw in the strange looks given to me by cars and semis and men in red trucks waving at me as though I were their long-lost friend, that I’m quickly becoming ‘that woman,’ the one on Route 25 who knows little fear, and provokes in my small corner of the world both a disdain of disbelief and admiration.

Is Route 25 safe?  Yes.  I believe it is.

And on a day like today it is exhilarating.

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