|Snow from the train window somewhere between Utica (home of the Tomato Pie) and Rome (home of the Woodstock where people threw mud at Green Day and set things on fire because of overpriced water)|
We are on a train passing through the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys en route to upstate New York (the real upstate New York, not the Bronx) and everything is covered in snow. All I can think about is bundling up in layers and trudging through it in running shoes for hours on end. Running in the snow used to be common. In fact, I grew tired of it. In college, I owned one pair of green running tights that made me look like Santa's lanky helper. I wore them so often, they wore out. Now, it's a rare treat to be in anything other than shorts thanks to more than three years in North Carolina where a light dusting closes schools and empties grocery store shelves (see any Charlotte-area news website today) and two more in New York City where I can count the number of snowfalls I've seen on three fingers.
When I first put pen to paper and laid out my 18 week plan for the Boston Marathon, I was scared. I guess there is an element of fear anytime you commit to going "all in" on a marathon, but this was the first time doubt crept into my mind. For the first time, I was embarking on this challenge on my own without the aid of a coach and without someone else to hold me accountable. I had doubts about my mental toughness and abilility to grind out 90 miles a week again. Doubts that I could survive countless workouts that took my body to the well and then kept digging to some sort of exhaustion sub-basement. Doubt that I could clear the high bar I had set for myself this go round, all while walking the balance beam that is work and family (wife and dog...for now). In my head, the knowledge that the only person I'd be letting down would be myself if I chose not to put in the work, would make it easier to let off the gas. Could I resist that urge? It's freeing not to have another person invested in your goal, but it's dangerous and it requires a new kind of self-discipline.
Six weeks into the plan and the doubt has given way to a sense of stability and control. At a point in life where so many things are up in the air and my fate is determined by so many others and often on their schedule, I know exactly what is on my training plan for tomorrow and the day after that, and the day after that. No one can change it but me (and an injury, but I'm working harder than ever to prevent the preventable ones). I can't explain how or why, but knowing that there is something like that in my life makes me a better husband, a better employee and a better friend. That, as much as my goal of running 2:32 on April 15th is why I am getting up to run 20 miles tomorrow. Alone. In the snow and savoring every step.