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.