This morning was supposed to be a 20-mile run. My last 20-miler before my marathon and ultra season begins. After a shorter, "easier" run next week, I then have a 26.2 or 30+ mile race to run on 3 out of the next 4 weekends. So, this 20 is relatively important.
Mother Nature had other plans. It started raining yesterday and still hasn’t stopped, and the front that brought in all this precip is just leading the way for what will be left of Hurricane Ike. He'll take over sometime tonight and then continue, unabated, into late Monday.
The whole of northeast Illinois is flooding. Lakes and rivers are overflowing, roads and side streets are swamped and impassable. Two sections of major interstates in the area had to be shut down because the standing water had grown so deep.
Even with all that, I still would have run this morning. Yes, still. I’ve run in the rain before. It’s not the greatest thing in the world, but it’s just water. At least the air temps were in the mid 70s, so it was a warm rain, and that’s no small blessing. It wasn’t the rain that stopped me. Noooooo…. It was the Tornado Watch. Somehow I couldn’t convince myself it was a good idea to be out in the forest preserve or on the lakefront for upwards of three hours during a wide-spread tornado watch.
I had plans to run the 20 with a friend of mine. She's also running Chicago this year, and we've already done a couple of long days together. We have a similar pace and similar goals. At 5:40 this morning we were on the phone trying to convince each other that it really was OK to put the run off a day. No, really, we can do it. It'll be fine. We can just do it tomorrow. Really.
Even on a day when you know you should skip it, there’s still that guilt – especially for a 20-miler, which would be easy to procrastinate even in perfect weather. So, when I’m staring at a long hard run, or even a long, hard week, why don't I skip? It’s not just the fear of failure, but the guilt of failure that eggs me on. Races? Races are easy. I mean, they’re hard too, but they also offer a ton of gratification. However, 20 miles at 6 a.m. in the rain – or, say, on a windy lakefront in 14 degree weather and snowfall – there’s not much gratification in that. But avoiding the guilt; knowing that I didn’t miss getting my miles in (which are SO hard to make up); knowing that I did my work even though no one was around to help me out the door or pat me on the back when it was over; that's why I do it. (It's all about the journey.)
My friend and I will try again tomorrow. It will still be raining, there’s no doubt about that, and it will be a little colder, though at least the tornado danger will have passed. But until it’s done, it’s just going to hang over my head.
The only way I’ll escape that guilt, is to run.