My plan was to run three laps of the four-mile loop down at the Trail. I started my first loop at 5:40 so that I'd be back at the start to meet the running chicks at 6:30. Halfway through the first loop, I knew I was in trouble. The cold front still hadn't hit, and the temps were in the mid-seventies and it was still fairly humid. The best way I can describe it is clammy. As I struggled along, all the voices of doubt cranked up, tell me I'd never make the distance.
I finished my first loop and headed out with the chicks for my middle one. And after half a mile of running with them, I came to a dead stop in the middle of the Trail with a side stitch. I stood there muttering, watching my friends disappear in the distance.
After a few seconds, I turned around and headed for my car, disgusted enough with myself and running that I was ready to throw my shoes in the lake and never run again. But after about 10 feet, I turned back around, determined to at least run the three-mile loop and do seven instead of 12. But then I turned around again with the idea of going to the gym and running eight miles on the treadmill. And then I turned around again, gave myself a little lecture about nutting up and just getting on with it, and started running.
Anyone watching would have thought I was insane - this sweaty, grubby, wheezing woman walking in circles and muttering under her breath.
I caught back up with one friend, who had stopped to wait for me, and staggered to the halfway point of the loop. As we were headed back on the second half, other friends, who had gone a bit longer, caught up with us. I managed to run with them for about a mile before the side stitch hit again, and I had to walk.
After I staggered to the end of the second loop, I went to my car and took a few swigs of Gatorade and headed back to the Trail. I said my farewells to my friends and trudged on my way.
Turns out the third loop was the best of the bunch. The front had come through and the humidity had dropped, if not the temperatures, and I felt a lot better. Plus I knew I had to finish, so all the doubts and worries that I had going through my head during my first two laps had disappeared.
The last mile was hard, but it was hard in an "I've just run 12 miles" way, not an "I hate running, I'm never doing this again" way.
I finished feeling much better about running and life and this whole crazy scheme of mine. I managed to keep going and finish the distance despite weather and despite the chorus of voices in my head telling me to stop because it was too hard, which counts as a huge victory in my book.
And the best part of the morning was when I got home to find that my husband had cooked up a mess of bacon, eggs and home fries. It was just what I needed after all those miles.
And now for a long, long nap.