Again, in the dark.
Moving through the shadowed house, bare feet on hardwood, dressing in the layers I laid out by the door the night before.
Slowly down the stairs, feeling my age. It’s not just you, I think. It’s normal.
The coffee maker tucked into a corner, it’s solitary red light in our kitchen. Humming as it warms.
I sip my coffee as I tie my shoes. Set out in the predawn hours. Underdressed, hoping I’ll be comfortable as time passes.
The rhythm of my breathing and my footfalls set against the awakening of birds and other more hushed sounds. At least it’s finally spring, I think as I exhale against 30 degrees. April indeed.
I wonder where I started. Some 19 weeks ago. Staring at a plan.
Thinking about where it would lead me. Personal records and such. The price.
I think back on the coldest mornings. When my brakes and my tires froze, because I’m too stubborn to ride a trainer. Because I need to be outside, even if it’s dark and freezing and mist feels sharp against my cheeks. Even as my 3 children sleep warmly in their beds and I shiver at the coldest hour just at sunrise.
Mornings when I had to wake up at 4:15am to start my car, so that it would defrost before I drove to the pool for another swim. The absurdity of that. While the world sleeps and I think about triathlon.
I drift through the final miles of the plan thinking about the road. How it rises. How I never understand it. How I don’t have to try. How it never asks anything of me, but that I keep moving. How it’s taught me so much about progress.
One foot in front of the other. One foot. In front. Of the other. Power only measured in my ability to keep going.
The sun rises as I crest a hill a few miles into the last long run. The last long run before a two week slow taper begins.
I remember my first 20 week long course plan. How strange it felt just to complete the training.
Like I was losing an old friend.
But I was too excited to be sad. I’d made it – after all. The race was really going to happen. And then I did it again. And again, several more times.
The long road.
It’s just numbers, I told a training buddy.
Along the road.
The joy is suffering the journey, I remind myself. Again, in the dark. Rising before the sun. The final miles to be explored.
Before the end of the plan. Before the race.
In the dark. Before another plan. And more miles.
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