Cornered by the first bits of daylight, Mt. Hood is a golden ghost on the horizon. The eastward pull of these roads, roomy in the vacancy of early morning, is reflex. Deep breaths try to soothe out pre-race jitters creeping into my stomach between bites of what has to pass for last-minute race morning breakfast (zucchini bread toast with peanut butter). I can feel air catch – like there’s something siphoning it off before it can reach the ends of the awkward triangle beneath my ribs.
On its best day, marathon training (for me at least) can be an exhausting, blistering endeavor. On a bad day, it results in fundamentally reconsidering my decisions. Initially I planned out every training run, intent on adhering to a schedule, convinced it was the only key to success. After injuries, and the resulting mockery they made of plans for marathon number 1, maybe the compulsion to exert my will on attempt number 2 rebounded.
One, two, three, four. Counting repetitively almost quells tremors in tired legs, almost frees me to fixate on the sun tracks through the trees and the quiet morning trail. Cool mountain air skims into my veins in winded intervals with the steepening trail. My feet periodically stagger to a walk while my eyes wander off the edge and down the misty fingers of the Columbia. (more…)