Know when to walk away, and know when to run.

It had to happen eventually. Winter, that is. It’s been such a mild season so far I got lulled into thinking I might make it through my first winter as a runner without ever really running in the cold. Sure it’s been in the 20s here and there and I’ve braved a few windy days, but I have to admit I’d never really, truly run in the bitter cold.

So Saturday. You’d have thought I was running the actual marathon that day I woke up so excited and nervous. It was a big day. 14 miles – a new long distance. After two half marathons in a row in December, I dropped back on my mileage a bit and built back up. I’m glad I did – I feel stronger than I did then and I’m much more confident in the 10-12 mile range. BUT that strategy meant I would have to wait several weeks before I was back in the routine of going a new long distance every weekend.

So this was it. I happily carbo-loaded the night before, drank water, and got plenty of sleep — I even had a new sports bra! (Sorry, but this is exciting stuff! Don’t you know you run faster in cute running clothes??) But I woke up Saturday to one of the coldest days yet this winter.

Actual winter. Crap.

But I wasn’t giving up so easily. I got dressed, ate my oatmeal, gathered up my cold weather gear.

Jennifer texted to ask if we were still on – the temperature was 12 degrees and the wind chill was 3 below. We agreed to give it a go.

So I showed up at the trail, completely nervous and (hopefully) ready for my big 14.

It was COLD. Jennifer had a full black hood that covered her head and face — and I teased her for looking like a ninja. It didn’t take long before I wished I had my own ninja gear.

We decided to give it a mile and if we hadn’t started to warm up, we’d turn back and try again later in the weekend. So we set out for 14 miles.

After a mile we couldn’t feel our fingers. Or toes. Or faces. I could barely talk — most of my face and jaw was numb. This was stupid. 14 miles of this wouldn’t be good, quality training for anything.

So we decided to turn back.

After a few minutes on the run back to the car we noticed we were no longer running into the wind and it felt a little more bearable. But it still wasn’t worth it. No 14 for me.

I texted Jeff to tell him I was on my way and I headed home. When I got there I sulked about how cold it was and how disappointed I was that my all-important run was ruined by the stupid weather. I had myself so incredibly worked up over this milestone of 14 miles that I almost let it ruin my morning. I’d thought about it all week. I was ready. And now I was sitting at home, NOT running 14 miles.

Colt and I ran some errands and got supplies to make valentines for his friends at school, and as we were heading home for lunch I noticed the sun was out.

It was still crazy cold, but the sun was making me antsy. And our short-lived morning run was just — bugging me. I was supposed to do 14 today, dammit I am going to do 14.

We got home and had some lunch. I texted Jennifer to let her know I just couldn’t wait. She was out of town for the night and told me to go for it.

So I headed back to the trail. Still cold, mind you, but at least the puddles of water along the path weren’t frozen solid and I could (mostly) feel my fingers. When I got out of my car at 1:30 my rearview mirror read 26 degrees. When I got back at 4:30 it still only read 29 degrees. COLD. Plus wind.

But I wasn’t going to rest until I saw that 14 on my watch.

It wasn’t my strongest run and it wasn’t the most fun, but I did it. I paced myself and listened to a new playlist, and I ran every miserable, stubborn step of my 14 miles. My knees were wrecked the next day so I didn’t make it out for a short recovery run when Jennifer got back to town, but I was still floating a little bit – proud of myself for having (sick, twisted) commitment to my training. I owed it to myself to run what was on the schedule – weather or no weather.

And, as it turns out, I got so obsessed over seeing a 14 that I didn’t factor in the short run we’d done that morning. Oops. 16.25 miles for the day. So THAT’S what my knees were all mad about…

72 days.

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