Posted by: Sue D. Gelber | January 24, 2011

A Tale of Two Runs

It was the best of runs, it was the worst of runs. Well, actually, I guess it wasn’t the worst of runs. Truth be told, I’ve had far more miserable ones. Like the time last summer when I started crying by mile 1.5 and had to have my husband come pick me up. Or the time when I started crying as I turned around at the 10 mile mark and realized I had to go all the way back. Oh, and of course the run where I twisted my ankle and started crying and had to have my husband come get me. (Apparently I cry a lot on my runs.) But I am going to take a bit of literary license and say that last week I had the worst run and the best run on two consecutive days.

The first run was supposed to be 8-10 miles. I have that insane race (the F-ing Freezing Frozen Lake Half Marathon) looming over my shoulder, so “it’s cold out” did not cut it as an excuse. Unless I wanted to collapse into a lifeless heap come race day, I needed to get at least some modicum of training done. I looked at the weather for the week and picked my day: projected highs in the 20s, some fresh snow, and a clear schedule. I planned accordingly and fueled up. I lathered on Body Glide, donned what must have been a dozen layers, and strapped on my Garmin. I diligently did my dynamic warmups, and then I headed out.

It was snowing a little harder than I expected. It was a little colder than I expected. It was far windier than I expected. As I jogged down the street, I noticed that the snow was blowing straight into my eyes. I mentally rearranged my route and turned westward. The snow was still swirling into my face. It stung a bit. Hmm, west didn’t seem to be a good direction. I once again rearranged my route in my head, made a few turns and headed east. The snow was still blowing in my face. I did one more course revision and turned northward. The road was slippery. The snow was blinding. I had a headache. I continued on for three more blocks and said “Forget this.” I walked back home.

I stood in the shower feeling defeated. I’d put on Body Glide, for Pete’s sake, and I hadn’t even made it a mile. Talk about a quitter. Clearly, I had lost my running mojo. I started to come up with ways to drop out of the half marathon. Maybe I could book a last-minute trip somewhere so I’d have an excuse to miss it. Or heck, maybe I’d just no-show. It was a cheap registration fee. I had no problem walking away from it.

The next day, I decided to try again. After my previous experience, however, I had low expectations. I skipped the Body Glide. I’d had nothing but grapefruit and coffee for breakfast. I didn’t bother bringing any water. I figured I would be lucky to stretch out 4 miles. I must have looked like a sullen teenager as I layered up and headed out.

I slowly plodded down the street. Alone with my thoughts, I kept thinking about all the things in my life that were not going well, that very run included. Why did I do this? Why did I bother? Should I just give up, as I had the day before, or should I try to keep going? I ran along, unsure what to do.

It was half snowy, half sunny, as if Mother Nature herself was grappling with indecision and self-doubt. Fortunately, the driving, swirling wind from the day before had died. Instead, a light breeze lifted the snowflakes gently, making them appear weightless. Then the sun managed to wrestle custody of the sky from the clouds. The rays hit the floating snowflakes, causing them to glow. It was like running into a swarm of fireflies. For the first time in two days, I found myself smiling.

Although thin, the sun warmed my face and lifted my mood. The clouds retreated towards the south. I chased them along, heading further away from home, until I realized that I had gone over four miles. With a small twinge of regret, I turned and headed back. I hit 9.3 miles as I got to my street.

Two days, two runs, two very different experiences. So, what did I learn? Two things: 1) like a relationship, you never really know how a run is going to work out until you are already in it, and 2) you should always go with Body Glide, just in case (and I have the chafing to prove it).


  1. Love this post Sue! We can all relate! Way to fight back! Cold sucks!

  2. Sue, your determination is always so encouraging to me. I love reading your ups, downs, ins and outs with running what it means to you. Plus you are hilarious. You are quite the inspiration.

    • Thanks Cheryl! At least writing about it is fun, even if the running isn’t.

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