Um, yeah, that would be me.
I’m really venturing into unknown territory here. I’ve never run this far, or this often. Some days it’s really just a guessing game. Am I drinking enough water? Am I getting enough protein? Am I eating enough carbs? Should I feel bad about eating a dozen bagels for breakfast? (not really, but almost.) Are these blisters normal? I mean who gets blisters at the tip of their pinkie toe? (um, yeah, that would be me.) Why am I doing this? Am I over training? Should I be pushing more?
In a way, it’s a lot like early sobriety. ALL THESE FEELINGS. ALL THESE QUESTIONS. Some days it’s just pointing yourself in the right direction and putting one foot in front of the other and going through the motions. It kinda sucks when you’re going through a rough patch, but the next day when you wake up refreshed and renewed and you look back at yesterday’s success (not drinking, running 17, not screaming at anyone for looking at you sideways…), you can feel pretty damn proud of yourself.
The first ten miles of my run felt great-I was breathing well, my legs felt strong, I started slowly, no problems.
Something happened at ten, a little light switched, that voice started talking, “hey, did you know you’ve just run ten miles? Aren’t you tired? You should be tired. You’re in double digits now, that’s crazy. I’m going to flip all the tired switches on in your body. And you’re going to go inside and eat cake.” You know what I said to that voice right? “F*ck off, I’m busy running.” So I obviously have a mental block at mile ten. Okay, note to self made, I know what it is, when to expect it, I can run through that block. I continued running (no walking! yay!) on, then I hit fifteen.
Fifteen miles. Then 15.1, 15.2, 15.3… Holy crap, I’ve never run this far before! Legs feel good, but I know if I walk for any reason, they’ll tighten up and it will take an act of god to get them running again. I must keep going. My breathing starts to get tired, I focus on the rhythm of my breaths. In, in, out, out, in, in, out, out.
I’m at sixteen miles. There’s no way I’m stopping now. Andy Roddick’s voice in my head, “It doesn’t matter how much energy you have. You just keep going.” I switch to Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out.” “And it’s hard to dance, with a devil on your back, so shake him off…” I can feel the sweat starting to chill on my arms, the goosebumps and the hairs starting to rise, “it’s always darkest before the dawn…” I wonder for a moment how in the world I’m going to run nine more of these miles in a marathon (flipping to the back of the math book. I hear my mom’s voice, “Don’t get ahead of yourself. Focus on where you are, you’ll be stronger then”…) I come back to the moment, and I’m steps away from finishing.
And I’m done. I take a moment and lean over for breath, feel the legs tighten, feel the emotion well up, where the heck are these tears coming from?, look at my time- 3:33:21. My mom died on 3/21. I feel those goosebumps again. Nice one mom. (And yes, I told you all that I’m a turtle. But turtles are cute and determined and they carry their homes on their backs. Turtles are awesome.)
I feel really strong, and tired, and spent, and proud. I feel accomplished. I feel hungry. I go eat two soft pretzels and a glass of milk. Then I feel nauseous. My legs twitch and ache. Why am I doing this? I don’t like these after-effects, caught up in the pain. I wonder again how I’m going to finish 26.2. I feel hung-over. I go to bed.
I wake refreshed and renewed. I ran 17 miles yesterday! My body is amazing! My mom was with me! I feel like running 17 more! (ok, not really, not today.) Was it worth it? Absolutely. I think of the caterpillar morphing into a butterfly, no doubt that process hurts. Would the butterfly say it was worth it? I think yes. I think of my mom, battling cancer, the fight with chemo that added a few years to her life. Was it tough, was it painful? Yes. Was it worth it? I think she would say yes. Absolutely. Will I continue with my training and my long runs that bring blisters, sweat, tears and nausea? Yes. Will I finish 26.2 with pride and accomplishment and gratitude? Absolutely.
Bring on next Sunday’s 18. I’m ready. I’m absolutely ready.
Listened to this a few times on my run. “I said a hip hop the hippie the hippie
to the hip hip hop, and you don’t stop…” They don’t make ‘em like this anymore folks.
I finished up with this one. I shared Glee’s version a few weeks back, but the original is my go-to. “And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off…”