Thursday, August 30, 2012

20 Miles: Live and Learn

It is my intention to have all of my training run blogs done BEFORE the marathon. I have 16 days to get caught up!!! 20 miles. This one sucked. I am just going to put that out there right now. No sugarcoating. No “well, it wasn’t good, but….” It flat out sucked monkey testicles. Yes, there is a big story behind it. Yes, I will go over some of it. Just the parts that are relevant though. Otherwise, its done and gone and over and I am not going  to drag it up again just for the sake of my blog.
From the beginning I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to handle this 20 miler. Matthew was going to be out of town to the air show in Oshkosh, WI. I was going to be a single parent for a week. Mom was too weak to watch Hayden, but even if she wasn’t, because of the heat, I was going to have to start this run between 3 and 4 am to be able to get most of it in before the temperature reached the triple digits. This Is smack dab in the middle of the hottest summer we have had in decades (if not ever) and I have to run 20 miles. I knew what I was going to have to do. It would be awful. It would be more than I thought I could take, but I spent a week mentally preparing myself to run those 20 miles on the treadmill. I was ready. I was willing. I figured it would be a true test of endurance. If I could run 20 miles on a treadmill in my basement, I could run 26.2 outside with cheering people and tons of support, right? Laurie was going up to spend the weekend with the boys in Oshkosh. I had my plan, I was ready. I had my Newtons and Gummi LIFE SAVERS. (Remember what I said last blog about not liking GummiBears? Yeah, still don’t LOL) and GU. I think it takes a lot of mental stamina to convince yourself that you are ready, willing and able to run that distance on a treadmill like some psychopathic lab mouse, but I was ready to wake up early Saturday morning and do just that. “Warden, yes, I would like to check out a straight jacket, please.”  It was to my great pleasure when Laurie asked me how I would feel about postponing the 20 miles to the following weekend. I was eager to jump at the chance. Saturday morning I woke up and got ready to do a regular workout, and found out that Laurie had changed her mind and decided to run the 20 in Oshkosh. So I lost my morning, I lost my mental preparedness, and found myself scrambling to put together a new plan. To not mince words, I was pissed. And worse, I was hurt. We made plans, and I felt disposable, and that’s not what a partner should be.  We are good now, we worked it out and that’s all I will say about that, but those feelings did linger and I think it was part of the problem that would be this long run.
As runners, I think we have to have that bad run. Not to make you appreciate the good runs, because, let’s face it, we know when we are having a good run, and we don’t need any additional encouragement to appreciate them! I think we have bad runs to remind us the delicate balance you have to maintain as a runner. So many factors can effect the outcome of a run: mental state (mine was bad), nutrition in the days leading up to the run (ok, but not great), rest (not sleeping well cuz Matthew isn’t home and Hayden doesn’t sleep well when he is gone either), hydration, and, oh yeah, mental state again.  As much as I want to think that I am, I’m not infallible. HA! I know I’m not. I am a creature of my emotions. My emotional state dictates my existence. Sometimes, it is absolutely exhausting.  Anyway, back to the actual run. After being assured that you CAN, while not IDEAL, split up a long run as long as you do both parts in the same day, I decided that was my route. I had Wednesday afternoon off of work so I picked Wednesday. I would run the majority of the 20 miles before work, come home shower and go in for my 4 hours, come home, change and finish up.
 This arrangement is not ideal in about every sense of the word. Matthew was home again, and willing to do whatever he needed to do to make sure I got this run done. I went to bed at 7 pm on Tuesday night. My alarm was sent for 2 am. If I could hit the road by 3 am I would have at LEAST 3 hours (3.5 if I decided to push my time limits) to get the majority done. I wanted to get at LEAST 13 done so I would only have 7 left to do after work (in the heat). That is exactly what I did. The morning portion was pretty good. The run went smoothly. I actually ended up hitting the road at 2:30. I got 15 miles done before work. I was feeling ok about this plan. Once I got to work, things started to turn in the opposite direction. I work in a bank and I spend my day behind a desk. I could feel myself stiffening up as the hours went on. I made an effort to get up and walk around every 15 minutes or so. All of my co-workers know I am training for this marathon and they are very supportive.   I knew this was not going to be good. I ate lightly throughout the morning, and when 12:30 rolled around, I headed home to finish up.

When I left the bank, it was already 80 degrees. 83 by the time I had changed and headed outside. I felt like I was made of 160 thousand pounds of concrete. I only had 5 miles left. What is 5 miles? On that afternoon, 5 miles was my Everest. I was desperately searching for any road that had a remote amount of shade. I was about a mile into it and I had to stop. According to my phone, it was already 93 degrees. It jumped 10 degrees?!? ! Yep, surely did. Remember what I said about knowing my limits? This was it. I couldn’t run 4 more miles in this heat. On those legs. It just wasn’t going to happen. I made my way home. It was round and about as I was still in search of the shadiest roads between the West end of town and my house on the East end. I got 2 miles done by the time I got home. I was in bad shape. I felt like a rock, and my body wouldn’t respond to my brain’s commands. That scared me. How far was I willing to push myself? Was I willing to risk a relapse in the name of a training run? No. I sat in my living room and cooled myself back down using techniques I learned while working for the National MS Society. I went downstairs and finished up SLOWLY on my treadmill. It was pretty awful. I didn’t dare risk pushing any harder because I was home alone. Matthew wouldn’t be home for a couple more hours.
 I finished. I know it was the perfect cocktail of variables that mixed together to form the vortex of suck that was my 20 mile run. Here is what I learned. I can’t run in heat. I can force myself to do it, but I will have to pay a steep price. One that I can’t afford. When my body stopped working, I was scared. Never again. My emotional state plays as big a part in preparing for my runs as any other factor. It is not to be discredited or downplayed.  Forgiveness takes time, but I will always be open to it. It is who I am. We will be ok, but don’t make me disposable again. Most of all, I learned that we need to have a bad run to force us to look at those variables and realize each one’s importance in our training. Just as good runs make us feel invincible, bad runs make us humble. I am grateful that I have had both through this journey to keep me balanced.

Until next time, Run On and Be Happy.

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