Take Sunday. Alarm shrills you from a warm bed at an hour when some people are drifting to sleep after a fun night out. You throw on your work clothes, bulky and heavy in winter, and chomp a carb-y breakfast of oatmeal and sweet caffeine. You pack gels, GPS, music player, gather hat and mitts, wish the kitty a good day and head out to meet your "colleagues" for a long morning of solo running followed by a coffee break.
Today was the same in a different way. In the important ways it looked like the above, but the feeling that ran through us as we gathered for china mugs of coffee and bottles of apple juice was that the run had gone well; it hadn't been hard. We felt okay, as though we could have gone further; as though we had expected more ice and snow and cold winds but we hadn't needed to call on our reserves because the expected hadn't happened. There had been sunshine and a blue sky, and lots of friendly unknown runners.
Once, at a cycle cafe, a skier told me a story about a long and gruelling ski race he'd completed. On the morning of the second day of the 2-day race, he'd crawled out of his tent chilled to the bone and tired from a sleepless night, waiting for breakfast. When he described the hot Tang, his eyes twinkled as he recalled the sweet, saccharine taste of that steaming hot drink. It had kept him going, that unexpected gift. That was my today. 26k.