I procrastinated - leisurely took the dog for a walk and rationalized to myself that I needed it to warm up to prevent icy roads. It took me nearly an hour to leave the house. I decided on a route that would take me west on the beachfront gravel trail along Spanish Banks, up UBC hill (where I could run on the grass if too icy) and then into the trails at Pacific Spirit. The first km was painfully slow, spent ice skating down Pt Grey Road and onto the trail. My feet were lead. My breath was labored.
At the intersection of the trail at Jericho, a young woman and her spouse jumped in front of me with their stroller so I pulled behind them watching their footfall to identify ice on the trail. After about 500m I realized that they were clipping along pretty good and drew back to my 5 minute per km pace, justifying that I would need to conserve my energy to last through 20-odd kilometers. I was not feeling well. And, I thought to myself, this couple was probably just out for a short run, hence the fast pace.
Alas, three km into my run I passed the same couple, who had pulled over to the side of the trail, feeling justified for not keeping up with their pace. Ha. About a kilometer and a half later I would eat those thoughts. Just as I was nearing the end of the Spanish Banks trail and about to head up UBC hill, the young woman - sans spouse but with stroller- clips past me as though I am standing still!! I looked down at my GPS and did a double take....I was moving along at a 4:55 per minute kilometer and she was making me look like I was out for a Sunday stroll!! I smiled as she passed me and commented "you are making me look bad!", and really I was only half kidding. She was pushing a baby, in a stroller, presumably a child she had recently given birth to and she was passing me going uphill. If that doesn't put one's fitness into question....I don't know what does!
The stroller did start to take its toll on the persistent grade of the UBC hill, along with icy conditions, and she slowed enough for me to run up beside her and start chatting. Her name was Jane, she was three-and-a-half months post delivery and was training for a March half marathon to attempt a NYC marathon qualifying time. We chatted going up the hill, all the while I was thinking, "holy crap, I am practically losing my lungs running up this hill and this woman is chatting happily while pushing a 20lb stroller and a baby. You are a wimp, Richele!"
From that point onwards, my whole mindset changed. I was going to rock this training run....flu be damned! It is amazing how much a little perspective can change your mindset completely. At 2k I was in total misery, trying hard to visualize getting through even half of my planned distance, and at 6k I was totally inspired by this incredible, strong woman.
The rest of the run was wonderful. The lead attached to my feet melted away and the self-doubt disappeared. I popped into the trails at Pacific Spirit just off 16th Avenue and enjoyed the peace and solitude of the forest - it was a gorgeous, brisk, sunny day and beams of sunshine were reaching out like shining arms through the breaks in the trees. I reached the southwest end of 41st Avenue and turned up Camosun....the 10 blocks of uphill didn't faze me. I felt great. It was one of those epic runs, where it just feels so great to be moving and to be alive, that you almost wish you never had to stop.
Exactly two hours after I had left dragging my butt out, I pulled up in front of my house. It is amazing that 23km later I felt charged, inspired and empowered. Jane Doe....wherever you are....thank you for the inspiration. I had forgotten how wonderful it was to run. Just run. Thanks for putting it all in perspective.