Lo and Behold, a Chestnut at Mile-8 of a LONG training run…
My saga of *Mile-8 Adventures took an interesting “turn” of foot yesterday morning as I was on my L-O-N-G Monday Runner’s Challenge training run in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon (in just under 4 weeks. Yikes!).
The morning was as spectacular as only a New England October 1st can be… cool, windy, brilliant blue sky. (Turning the calendar to October always makes me particularly excited because my birthday is in October; and turning 60 is pretty gosh-danged exciting, especially celebrating in part by running a MARATHON! What?! Yes! A Marathon!)
My scheduled run was 14 miles, and even though I had managed 20 miles on last week’s training run, I still had butterflies in my stomach. Beginning any run gives me butterflies, seriously, but I put on my big girl running pants and
headed out the door called my daughter Jane to run at least the first 5 miles with me. Jane lives 5 minutes from me, she loves me… and was at my door in, well, 5 minutes. Love that girl!
We headed out to our local park with its rolling hills, shaded pathways and gorgeous bay views. Jane is a great pacer for me, keeping me from going out too fast and losing it by Mile-3. We had Endomondo along with us, of course, and the first 5 miles melted away…
Now I was on my own for the next 9 miles, but my pacing was nice ‘n easy by then, so I headed into my little town, around the harbor, whipping up with the October wind…
… and lost myself in the joy of running under the bluest of October skies.
At almost 60 and running only my second marathon, I’ve become a devotee of Bart Yasso, the wise, insightful, caring and humorous “Mayor of Running”, who just yesterday morning had posted to us Runner’s World Challenge runners, “Take some time to make a list of all the reasons why you run. How does each run impact the quality of your everyday life? What are the long-term benefits of living a running ‘lifestyle’? Take a look at your training log. Count up all the miles you have already logged en route to the starting line, and draw confidence and pride from that.”
I run for many, many reasons, but being outdoors is one of them. When I began running 4 years ago, I always headed outdoors because I felt like a kid again. I love the wind. The hot hot or the cold cold of the day. I love the sun rising. The sun setting. I love the sounds of people and bicycles and dogs and birds. I love the sounds of lawn mowers and dishes clinking inside the little cafes and restaurants I run by in my little New England town.
I may be turning 60 on Saturday, but I feel 6 years old when I run outdoors… free, happy, enthralled with life’s little adventures! The pure joy of life is always waiting.
Endo called out my miles and my splits as I ran along, circling back toward the park.
Suddenly, I felt a twist of my foot just moments after Endo had called out Mile-8. I looked down to discover a little chestnut that must have just plopped to the ground because it was several inches away from the little clusters that someone had swept to the side of the road. I stopped to rotate my ankle a turn or two, and noticed that the little offending chestnut was apologizing in the most lovely of ways – with a HEART…
I scooped up that little chestnut, tucked it into my little waist pack and knew that it represented that joy. Outdoors. Adventures. Nature’s little gifts. Life’s tiny, tiny miracles. Parts of the whole.
Each of us, just like that giant Chestnut Tree growing on the side of the road, seeing seasons upon seasons come and go, scattering its prolific fruit gifts, celebrating life and the great outdoors; that’s the message of the little heart-chestnut and the reason it fell at Mile-8. I’m sure of it…
Then I took off again, running the 6 remaining miles of my 14… even conquering the intimidating up-hill leading to our local university (knowing all along that running down was gonna feel really, really good)!
I don’t know why Mile-8 has become such a wonderful part of my Marine Corps Marathon training, but I’m not going to question it one single bit. No, siree.
Instead, I’m embracing it as the reason I do these L-O-N-G runs each Monday morning. And only 3 long runs to go before the big day, race day, October 28th. Hmmmmm. I wonder what Mile-8 adventure is waiting down there on the Marine Corps course?
In the meantime, I’ve got my little heart-chestnut sitting in a place of honor on my desk, inspiring me to keep on gettin’ out there and running. I may be approaching the “first frost” time of my life, but that chestnut and chestnut tree are outdoor reminders that we all keep growing, we’re all strong, we all have little gifts to give… and we’re all pretty darned resistant to decay, too! Ha!
(Now I’m going to take Bart’s advice and go count up all the miles I have already logged en route to the starting line, and draw confidence and pride from that.”) Sweet.