One of the funny things about running is that some days trying to squeak out a short distance will feel impossible, but then a long run will be what the doctor ordered.
I decided last week that I was going to run 16 miles. I figured 16 miles on September 18th, 18 on September 25th and a 20-miler on October 2nd would get me in good enough shape for Columbus. However, I have to work Saturday morning, and I don’t want to squeeze in 18 miles on Sunday the 26th when I’m planning to run 20 the following Saturday. I know some crazier runners can do that, but I’m not one of them.
So instead of 16 miles this past Saturday, I stretched my run out to 18.
And man, talk about a spiritual revival!
Around February of 2020, I was dealing with a professional blow up and my mental health was starting to decline. One of the symptoms of the decline was a state of fear about the trails downtown. Keep in mind, I’d been running the trails and streets for three years at that point. I knew the secluded parts of the Scioto and Olentangy trails to keep an eye on, and I knew that the majority of the trail is very safe. But I made the mistake of listening to my anxiety and my ex’s constant worrying/nagging about the trails and me running by myself being so dangerous because he watched an Epstein documentary and was convinced I’d get kidnapped and sold into trafficking.
He never even heard of these trails prior to dating me, by the way; I was the one who actually went on them. And as an adult white woman who isn’t addicted to drugs or working in an illegal profession, I wouldn’t even be on a trafficker’s radar. Lifetime Movie Network really did a disservice to actual trafficking victims, but I’m really digressing.
I knew the Scioto to Olentangy trail is one of longest out-and-back ways to get a long run in, so I decided to ignore my nervousness, get started an hour earlier, drink Gatorade and go. I parked in German Village, ran the first three miles from Schiller Park through the Brewery District to Columbus Commons until I could pick up the Scioto Mile along the river.
I forgot how peaceful Columbus is between 8 and 9 a.m. Some dog walkers were out with their pups, as were the runners and bicyclists. I made my way north towards the Arena District, running on the trail alongside Long Street and over the bridge to pick up the Olentangy trail.
I love water and find it relaxing to run alongside the river, and I felt strong as I ran past the new townhomes going up around Ohio State’s campus towards the stadium. Plenty of football fans were out tailgating before the game, and I saw the ReMax hot air balloon floating overhead. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those in the city before, so it was a pleasant surprise.
I ran up the trail until my phone let me know I had reached the 9 mile mark. Now the first half of the run felt great. But then around Mile 10.5 heading back, it got hot. And I started to feel a little fatigued.
This lasted until Mile 12.3, so I decided to take a walk break and walk-run the rest of my trek. Physically I bonked, but emotionally I was completely enjoying myself. Do you all remember a few weeks ago when I was asking myself if I could even do this, meaning run a full marathon like I used to? I got my answer – it may look a little rough, but I can.
And more importantly, I realized the lingering hang ups and fear were no longer with me. The unknown wasn’t unknown and I had no reason to let whatever leftover voices that were still there to spout off. I saw myself as the woman I used to be, and who I got back to.
So 18 miles are done. I’m on my way, and I have a mild sunburn around my chest and shoulders because I didn’t think to use sunscreen. But I’m going to consider it my runner badge of honor and not sweat it.
Until next time,
Yours in writing and running,