"Hey, have you tried Tho's Barz?"We have our route all planned out. Our goal is 46 km. 23 km towards Terwilligar Park in the south end of Edmonton, and then the 23km back. There was quite a bit of trail on the route there, which makes it even more exciting.
"Tho's Barz! I love Tho'z Barz!"
All week long, we've had spring weather, so when I checked the weather report last night, and saw that Environment Canada predicts -7 with a winchill, and some other forecast is predicting -2, I have my fingers crossed that Environment Canada is wrong. Seriously, I'm very much TIRED of running in the cold. I've had it up to "here" (pointing to forehead). However, fortune is not on our side this morning. It is cold, with a bitter wind coming in from the north. The hardwood floor is cold in our home, and as we shuffle along it, trying to make our preparations, I've got a little anxiety about what we need to go out and do. There is always that question... What if? What if we don't make it? What if we get frustrated, angry, or injured and we are far from anywhere? What then? Of course those thoughts don't get you to the finish line, so for now, the only way to know is to get out there, and get it done.
It's 3:30 by the time we've arrived at the starting point. Our worries are true. The wind is cold, and with the windchill, it's between -12 and -15. A little while ago, I lost my favorite running face mask on a trip to visit my Parents. So, I've been living without it. This is a morning where I miss it the most.
The sky is overcast. I can see this because the lights of the city reflect softly on the bottoms of the clouds. They are threatening flurries this morning, but so far there is nothing "new" and white on the ground. I hope it stays that way, but I'm committed regardless of what the weather can throw at me. I'm thinking about what I'm going to be writing, though the experience has not yet unfolded, I mull over things in my mind about where we are going, and why we are going there. What should I write? What would be inspirational. I wonder if people come to our blog to learn about running, and they mostly get a series of blogs that describe our emotional struggles.
I'd be writing all day if I described all the little things that happened. Running for 6 hours just to train is pretty epic in itself. Our goal of 46 km will take us way down the river valley, hopefully past Terwilligar park, and then back again. 23 out, 23 back. Everything is going great too, until we run into a completely iced over portion of the trail, and it is not just a short section either. The ice follows the trail clear from the high level bridge, to the bridge on Groat Road, perhaps a 3km stretch. It takes it toll on the both of us. We tackle some sections on our hands and feet in a "crab walk" style. We tackle others by stepping gingerly in a section to find it provides no support or traction at all. In fact, I start to cool down because I'm not moving very fast. To complicate things, I can tell I'm getting frustrated, and so is Virginie. By the time we get to Hawrelak Park, we're looking for any signs of pavement. We find a fork in the trail. We've gone right before, so we start with that. What do we find? Ice... So we turn around and go right. Ice... It's okay though... we continue on. We eventually find a road through Hawrelak Park, and when we get to the other side, the trail looks clear. At least for a while. It ice's over eventually. Something has also gotten into Virginie. Perhaps it's me... by now, I'm ready to file a formal complaint with Mother Nature. I'm mean really! How fickle can you get??? I guess the one saving grace I can think of is that at least it's good training. If we can mentally and emotionally get over this, all the better shape we'll be in when race day comes. So, we continue on.
This is the general theme for the next hour. At one point, a low-lying area has collected all sorts of snow melt, and its iced over, and that ice has a fine layer of snow on it now. Virginie steps on one spot, and her shoe immediately goes through the ice, into the freezing water underneath. We end up scaling the side of the trail in the prickly wild rose bushes to try and get away from the ice water. It works! I start wondering if I can find an alternative trail back.
By the time we get to Terwilligar park, the effects of everything (the weather, the emotions, the distance) are becoming obvious. Virginie's pace has slowed, and my temper has unfortunately escallated. It's not a temper that is flaming hot... it's more of a smolder. I try to help out, but I don't think I'm helping anything. We've been running with headphones on for a while, to try and get some motivation. By the time we are heading out of Terwilligar though, after about 26 km, things are looking pretty bleak. I walk to let Virginie catch up, and wait for her to pass. It's always easier to have her in front, and match her pace. Once she passes though, she takes a wrong turn, and I decide not to say anything. It's still not that clear why I did not... but the reality is, by the time Virginie realized what happened, she was done. She grabbed a bus ticket from me, and ran across the street to take the bus home.
I realize this is not the end of our story. It's the beginning of the rest of it. We can always choose to get back up and try again. I love running for that reason. It's only over when I decide. My body can complain, and my mind can complain, but I don't have to listen to any of it. My heart is in two places. Be with my Wife? Finish the run? In the end, I feel it's better for Virginie to work this one out. I don't think I'll be able to help. So I continue on.
There is so much to tell about the remainder of the run. How I got lost, how some dear friends provided encouragement in my hour of need. How I thought of a great friend that lives down where it never snows, and has become quite an inspiration to me. How I decided I love Ginger in my smoothies because it soothes a sore tummy, and how if I just ever so slightly jut forth my hips while I'm extending for the next stride, I seem to find a little "free speed". Yup, I could write forever.
Why am I doing this? Well, it's not for me. We are going to be having dinner with a family in St. Albert in the next few weeks that have boys with Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy. I met them at a church activity a couple of weeks ago. I was really struck with their eyes. They are so full of life. They wheel around like there are no issues, with a trust that is simple and honest. I don't know if they realize that they won't be able to feed themselves eventually, or even roll over in bed. Apparently, a cure is close, and new treatments are coming out all the time. With a new treatment, these boys, and many others (especially in my own extended family) will have the opportunity to have a life that I often take for granted. Even getting angry at their Wife while trying to run. Virginie, if you are reading this, I apologize. Please, let's try again. I know it will be better next time.