Ya remember when I told you I wing things? Well, yeah, so I wasn't lying. I'm terrible at being accountable to myself. Needless to say, this is not so good when it comes to marathon training. Down right horrible, actually.
When I had a coach from January to June for my swim portion of my triathlon relay I was pretty good at sticking to the plan. I rarely missed a workout. I really pushed myself. Of course, we are talking swimming here, and not running. Swimming is easy, peasy for me. I don't suck at swimming. Running is hard for me. I suck at running. I no longer have a coach. I'm on my own. I'm a shitty coach for myself (awesome coach for others, go figure).
I'm a champ at turning off my morning alarm and rolling back over to sleep. A champ. During my first Chicago Marathon (DNS) training in 2011 I actually DID get up and run. Actually ran before work. Sometimes, rather long runs (for me). BEFORE work. But, since then my job has changed. My hours have changed. My responsibilities have changed. I have more stress. Work. Life. Whatev. I'm exhausted. All. The. Time.
I know that people have busier lives than me. Have more stressful lives than me. I know this. I'm well aware of it. But, I used this as my excuse. Hell, when I have a rare time I don't have an injury I need something to keep me from running, right?
My exhaustion finally took me to the dreaded doctor two weeks ago. To get blood tests. To see what was wrong with me. Well, of course, I didn't want there to be anything wrong. However, it would explain my physical and mental attitude better. Turns out all tests came back ok. Sigh. So.... no solution to my apathy.
So, I drag myself out to run. Now and then. I've gone down to three runs a week. Oh, oops, this week it was TWO. Oh, my, god. TWO runs a week. 3 weeks before my first marathon. I'm an idiot. I ran 5.67. And 20. Yes, I said TWENTY.
I have no fucking clue how I got this tired, sorry ass body to run 20 miles yesterday. I'm so under trained. I'm mentally in a serious running funk. I have no strength. I have no stamina. My foot still hurts a bit from my recovering plantar fasciitis. Yet, somehow, SOMEHOW, I got my body through 20 miles.
Honestly, I was terrified for this run. Like as in sick to my stomach terrified. I didn't get enough sleep beforehand. I didn't get home from work until 10 p.m. the night before and couldn't get myself calmed down to sleep until well after one. I was doomed.
I met up with the local marathon training group. A group of REALLY fast runners. People WAY out of my league. But, they give me the motivation to step on the trail. Even if it means I'm alone within the first minute. At least I'm starting.
They casually line up people by pace and off we go. I immediately went to the back of the group. Found a woman, Maryann, who said she ran 12:30 pace. Slower than me. But, I figured it would be someone to run with and keep me going. We slowly ran together. Chatted a bit here and there (something I normally HATE doing). She will be 53 next month. Has ran a few marathons. So, she was experienced in this. We had a nice pace going. Really slow. But, steady.
We shared running stories. Stories about running friends. Time went by. I had some really bad toe pain now and then. I had to stop, take off my shoes, massage my feet, and on we went again. She was really encouraging to me. Always telling me I was doing great. I needed that. I felt like such a slug. Seriously. Not that I expected to do this long run fast. But, I'm still really struggling with the fact that, before all my injuries, I used to run my 5-7 mile runs at a 9:15 - 9:30 pace. And, here I was running 12:30. I know it shouldn't matter. But, it does. To me. I miss that old runner. This "new" runner pisses me off.
At mile 6 we ran into one of the group organizers of the run. He was on his bike doing a sweep, checking on the runners. We let him know we were the last ones of the marathon runners (there were half marathon people, turning off at this point). He gave us some encouraging words and made sure we safely made it across a busy street we needed to run on for a bit. He also was there when a beaver ran across the trail in front of us. Come on.... how many times has a beaver jumped in front of you?!?! ;)
Before I knew it we were at mile 11. I knew we would be running by my home soon. I had put my mother on call to bring some things for me at the parking lot across the street from my house. I had left things ready and waiting should I need them. I needed them. Gatorade, bars, bananas. Maryann was needing something too. She was starting to bonk, feeling light headed. Dizzy. Not good. Two miles later we met my mother, scarfed down food and liquids, used the public restroom (yeah!) and on our way again. We really needed that.
Shortly thereafter my toes bitched at me again. Again I had to do a quick massage. Then we were on our way again. But, now I was starting to feel pain in new places. My hip. My back. I was getting tired. We had five miles left. I tried to tell myself that I was just starting my run and running an easy five. My body knew I was a lying bitch.
I had to walk a bit here and there. For 30 seconds or so. Maryann was great at letting me do so. But, was always encouraging me to start up again. For a bit I stopped running beside her and instead ran behind her. I turned up my iPod, listened to my music, and focused on her feet in front of me. I zoned out and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Soon we were back on the trail from which we started. We just needed to get to the other side of the loop. We were SO close. I could do this. I needed to do this. I HAD to do this.
We were within one mile and I was hurting pretty badly. I'm not sure which was worse, my mental state or physical state. But, both were killing me. My Garmin had died at mile 12 so I was relying on Maryann's Garmin for our distance. At this point I literally wanted to know where we were at every point. God bless Maryann, she started calling out the distance for me, "19.75..... 19.79.... 19.83.... 19.95.... 19.96... 19.97.. 19.98... 19.99.... DONE!" We finished up about .3 from parking lot. I stood there on the trail after she yelled done and leaned over (I know, bad) and put my hands on my knees, and started to cry. In relief. In pride. Took a deep breath. Turned to Maryann. Gave her a huge hug. Thanked her. For getting me through 20 miles. I would NEVER have been able to do it by myself. No way. I would have walked a ton. I would most likely have quit.
We walked in that last bit. I took a picture of her Garmin, so I would have proof. Said quick goodbyes and promised to see each other marathon morning.
Then I went to sit in my car. Cried a bit more. I was a bit dazed and out of it. Not sure how long I sat there. But, it was quite awhile. Finally, I got with it and went home.
Not sure how I did this 20. Physically it should not have been in me. Mentally, I should have quit at mile 5. I'm still terrified for marathon day. This is so not the race I planned to run. I'm so not the runner I thought I would be at the start. Yes, I'm glad it appears I will get there relatively uninjured. So, that's a win. But, the runner that will show up will not be the strong runner I hoped would be there. But, she will be there.
Long gone is that 4:30 goal I had for the first Chicago Marathon I was training for. My goal now is simply to finish. In less than 6 hours. I sure hope I can do it.