Disclaimer: Settle in, this is a long post.
Physically unable to run 20 miles this past weekend had been eating at me. I felt like I failed the marathon before even making it to the start. I had always thought of the 20 mile run as the pinnacle of training, a rite of passage for any potential marathon runner. I couldn't imagine NOT having that mammoth long run before my first marathon. It has been too long since my 18 mile run with three weeks remaining to race day. I felt I'd never make the marathon, or I'd set myself up for a horrible first marathon experience (I already know I'll do this again. Yes,I'm crazy) should I not have one more mammoth run before the taper weeks. For reference, I define a mammoth training run as anything greater than a half marathon. Marathon training has skewd my distance frame of reference in regards to a long run.
Monday, I called the physical therapist referenced by my run group. This dude can allegedly make you walk on water, eat bullets, and shit ice cream. Seriously! I can't wait to meet him. I have an appointment next week. I was disappointed not to be able to get in, right now yesterday, and I was feeling even more down about my run legs as the day progressed. Should I back out of the marathon? My pride wouldn't allow me to even say that out loud.
Monday evening, I went to my normal RIPPED class, and I was the only one to show. The instructor was my personal trainer and has known me since I first set foot in a gym and knew nothing about working out, except that's what you had to do to lose weight,and I had some elle bbbbs to shake. She knows how to push me and how to encourage me in such a positive way, I knew getting this one on one time would be awesome! We had an intense HIIT work out pushing closer to an hour and a half vs our normal hour. After the work out she spent a solid 30 minutes helping me stretch out my legs and showing me some resistance stretch techniques that have worked for her in the past. I will share this with you, don't stress!
Tuesday morning I got up and said to my husband, I feel so good today! I could go for a long long run. I think I might do that! We had agreed to keep things simple and low key this New Year's Eve, so I knew I could do a long run in the afternoon. I had to work a half day so my run would have to wait. All morning long I continued stretching my foot under my desk and I couldn't stop thinking I could tear up the pavement today. That would be an awesome wrap on 2013!
At noon I left the office, came home and ate a quest bar and some pistachios, I'd had a egg white delight for breakfast. I changed into my run gear and mentally went over the route I wanted to run. In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to get 20 miles. I wanted that 20 miler under my belt bad bad, but would my body allow it? I packed for a long run bringing chap stick, two packs of shot blocks, Spark, and five dollars in case I had to buy a bottle of water at a gas station, 20 miles is a long run route on the real.
I decided to break the run up into four five mile runs, that's the only way I can mentally manage these mammoth runs. Thinking of them as short runs strung together. I promised myself if I started to hurt, then I would stop. For the first time ever, I turned off the pace monitor on my Nike ap, and had it tell me my distance every ten minutes. No pace. (I usually keep it set to pace and distance every five minutes). I was apprehensive about neglecting my pace, but at the same time I felt I had to let it go if I was going to enjoy this run. Honestly, I had big concerns over how far I was actually going to get to run. No worries about time. No worries about pacing. Just run.
I spent more time than usual warming up, doing some stretching and lunging. I think the majority of my injury issues are coming from a lack of warm up, cool down, and most importantly time spent stretching. I took a deep breath and pressed start run. Here we go.
The first mile I was paranoid about my foot and left leg. Is it hurting? Do I need to stop? Should I be doing this? Is this smart or stupid? Should I be resting? Nick called just as I was hitting a mile and a half and we had a short conversation "Whatcha doing?" Me: "Running!" Him: "How far you going?" Me: "Til I can't anymore" Him: " Need me to run water?" Me: "Maybe..watch my dot but don't plan your afternoon around me" References to my dot are associated with the Find Friends Ap he uses to track me when I run.
The first five miles were easy. I had zero pains, no bathroom issues, no water issues, and I felt flat out a-mazing! 1/4 of the way done!
Mile One: 9:50
Mile Two: 10:01
Mile Three: 9:52
Shot Block and Water
Mile Four 9:59
Mile Five: 10:07
The first five felt great. I forced myself to run a route down to the river so I would have to run uphill on the way out (Hill work is hard to get in down round here). I felt great rolling into the second five mile run. I knew I was averaging just at or under a 10 by my distance every ten minutes and I was pleased with my pace. I felt really good to feel good know what I'm sayin?
Mile Six: 10:00
Nick meets me for more water & a Shot block
Mile Seven: 10:13
Mile Eight: 9:58
Mile Nine: 9:57
Shot Block & Water
Mile Ten: 10:31
Stopped to mix Spark with water at a public fountain Genius
The second five miler felt just as good as the first. No hydration issues, no bathroom issues, ready to take on the third five miler. I started running back down towards the river and out again trying to get in more hill work. I knew my second ten miles would be slower than the first, and I was ok with that. Pace management takes experience and patience. I'm short on both of those. However, at this point, I know I'm getting to 20 if I have to crawl there to do it.
Mile Eleven: 10:22
Mile Twelve: 10:24
Water & Shot Block
Mile Thirteen : 10:08
Mile Fourteen: 10:38
Mile Fifteen: 10:47
Water & Shot Block
I called Nick sometime during the fourteenth mile and asked him to meet me one last time at about mile 15. I was getting tired, and obviously slower. I had lost track of where I was in reference to pace, and it felt good. It felt good to just go, to stop worrying about pace. I didn't realize how much pressure I had put on myself in terms of pace goals. Since I began running, pace has always been how I measured my success. Am I getting faster? How long can I run X pace at X distance. Set out to improve upon that time.
I got some advice from an experienced marathoner after my disappointing first 20 miler attempt Training for and Running 26.2 is an incredible accomplishment in and of itself. Let go of pace. Just finish! My foot was hurting some, but it wasn't unmanageable, and overall I felt fantastic- all things considered. I thought I was averaging somewhere in the 11 at this point and I didn't care. My goal was singular: Finish what you started. I had 4.82 miles left to get to 20. I knew I was going to get there. I had to, there was no other option for me but running that 20 mile route. The last stretch was as much of a challenge mentally as it was physically. After my last water and shot block stop, I knew I couldn't stop again until the run was complete. It was getting harder and harder to pause and get going again, and honestly, it was starting to hurt. My right knee was hurting, and my left foot had had about enough. I kept thinking about how far I had already come, and I just couldn't stop. It's a funny experience during the mammoth run. You reach a point where your brain will say anything to get you to stop moving your body. I can't count how many times I had to shut down the negative mind set and pep talk myself Just keep running it will stop hurting. I'm sure it will go numb at some point. Keep moving. You got this. Just keep running. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Would you quit on race day? Hell no. The last 5k was the hardest, but when I hit 20, I knew I could keep going. Slowly yes, but I could have kept running.
Mile Sixteen: 10:26
Mile Seventeen: 10:52
Shot Block & Water
Mile Eighteen: 11:02
Mile Nineteen: 11:01
Mile Twenty: 11:28
This run was incredibly empowering. I am woman hear me roar, empowering. I know I'll be able to run the marathon now. I can taper with security in knowing I WILL get to the finish line and I won't close the course. I needed this run as a confidence booster. This was one of those runs that reminded me why I run. Running has impacted my life in every aspect. Running has been an incredibly powerful positive force in my life, and I don't just mean in the physical sense.
Running has shown me what I'm really made of. Running has taught me to never underestimate myself, to never undervalue what I am capable of, and I know, today right now, I'm barely scraping the tip of the iceberg. Running has made my skin thicker. Running has given me confidence that transcends physical abilities. This run reminded me that no matter what life throws at me, I will win. I will over come. I will come back stronger.I can always get better, with enough perseverance and persistence every dream can become a reality. Running makes me feel like I can do ANYTHING. I CAN and I WILL.
*Special thanks to Eminem and Nate Dog for coaching me through mile 17*
Cause Sometimes you just feel tired
Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna fall flat on your face and collapse.
Until my legs
Give out from underneath me
I will not fall,
I will stand tall,
Feels like no one can beat me.
Great things to come in 2014
Happy New Year!