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 The final long run before the NYC Marathon has arrived.  A shorty (12 miles) by prior long run standards – but possibly one of the most important practice runs of all.   The run that imprints a positive state of mind.

The day began earlier than I would have preferred.   I had over-committed my day, and my running start time would be sacrificed.   My alarm goes off at 4:45, and I’m eating breakfast by 5:00AM.  I’m not the least bit hungry, but force down 1/2 wheat bagel, peanut butter and a banana.  It sits in me like a boulder.  Digestion is taking it’s sweet time, and by 7:30AM my gut is not feeling especially “well”.

Today’s run will be 12 miles along the BWI Trail, and along various nearby empty roadways – with Team Sherpa companion Jill on bicycle.   Jill is back to wearing her foot cast.   Apparently she was so excited when her doctor said the cast could come off – she attempted to make up for sport lost time in 1 day.  Nearly broke the foot again – so she is back to riding a mountain bike, with a cast on one leg.  Talk about a dedicated Sherpa!!

Despite feeling stuffed to the brim with an undigested bagel and a banana – it doesn’t take long to focus on today’s goal.   How can I make 26.2 miles — a week from today – easier?   By minimizing the effort of course!  Finding, and maintaining an ‘effortless’ state — one I can imprint on my mind.

Without referencing my Garmin – I know my pace.   It is consistent.  I listen to my breathing, I feel the weight in my legs.  My cadence becomes a drum beat.  I listen to the steady rhythm, and immediately sense when the beat is off – even for a few beats.  I restore the cadence.   I feel the pounding in my lower body, and sense the firmness of my core.   If my mind becomes busy – my body is more tense, and less fluid.     When my mind is quiet, light-hearted, absorbed in the nuances of ‘now’ – my body becomes effortless.   I set aside the busy-ness of my mind, and put the chaos to rest.  Time becomes elastic – I am not in a hurry, and there is nowhere that I need to “be”.  I focus on my focus.  The focus of minimizing the impact of the relentless pavement pounding to see how far my body can go having achieved a delicate balance of ‘effortless’.  In and out of “effort” and “effortless” – for the next 12 miles.

Before I knew it, my run was over.   My Team Sherpa gets a much needed break.   Maybe that broken foot can finally heal?  My last long training run before NYC – done.  A run where I achieved more “effortless” over “effort”.  A run that will be imprinted in my mind, to set the stage for the NYC Marathon.