Into The Great Wide Open

There wasn’t any way around it, at least not an option with any real appeal.

With 14 weeks until race day, the only way to prepare for running a marathon comes with the all-too-real knowledge that long runs are necessary. And if you live in a harsh northern clime, there’s two real choices: grind away on the soul-sucking treadmill or head outside, where nature’s whims can beat you down.

On Saturday, I chose the latter, heading north out of town and into the great wide open, vulnerable to the snow and wind. It was as an exercise in mental toughness and tricky footing as nearly every footfall hinted at the icy concrete and asphalt hidden beneath a fresh layer of white powder.

This route — along rural highways — provided two advantages: no obvious turn around points (who really wants to tread over ground they’ve already covered?) and the wind at my back on the return trip. An audio book kept my mind off the task at hand, and the misery of snow poking me in the face.

A few hours later, I found myself peeling off the wet, icy layers — satisfied with the conviction and sense of purpose that it took to get out the door just after sunrise.

More than one coach will say there are no fluke good performances.

Perhaps that comes with the knowledge that we lay the foundation for a good race in the weeks and months in advance — and building that foundation takes time, discipline and commitment.

The Lake Wobegon Trail marathon may be the next big race on my schedule, and it looms just more than 3 months from now. A month later I’ll find myself in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains and the starting line of the Utah Valley Marathon. There are no guarantees of good performances, but without efforts like the one this past Saturday, I’m much better prepared for success.