Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Marathon Training Week 7: 19 Miles?

I think I procrastinated too much on this blog, because most of it has flown out of my brain. For all the the GREAT pictures from this run, please go to Laurie's blog post about our run. Anyhoo, This week’s scheduled long run was to be 17 miles. Laurie and I weren’t really feeling the group run so we decided we would take to the bike path to pound out the miles. I had planned to go up on Saturday in the afternoon and take it easy, then head to bed early. We wanted to get a very early start. This heat has been insane and we wanted to beat it before it really set in. Alright, great plan in place, and I am ready to tackle this thing. 17 miles. Further than this Former Fat Girl has EVER run. I was nervous. It was the sheer size of the number. It was a milestone. And a possible stumbling block as well. On the flip side of that, I was actually very calm in my core. My head can freak out all it wants before hand, but it is my core, my heart that holds the power, and it was calm. It felt natural; this whole process has felt natural in its evolution.  
On Thursday we had rumblings that they would be releasing my Mom, as early as Friday.  The steroids were keeping her fever in check and her blood cell counts were holding in good range. I wasn't sure how what time I would get up to Hotel Rose. I wanted to be sure that I got enough sleep. I think the thing that made me the most nervous about this super  long run wasn't the mileage, it was the fear that I would run out of steam. Laurie and I researched some fuel alternatives to GU, but I was afraid that the new fuel wouldn't work and I would be tapped out and no way to drag myself  back to the car. Anyway, Mom did come home on Saturday so I didn't get up to Laurie's as early as I would have liked, but there wasn't anything I could do about it.  We wanted to spend time with Mom and more importantly, we wanted Hayden to spend time with her since it had been over a month since he had seen his Ama. 

As I said, I didn't make it up to Coal Valley as soon as I wanted to, so I didn't get to bed as soon as I wanted to either.  Laurie had gotten some Fig Newtons and some GummiBears as alternative fuels, but I packed my fuel belt with GU too. I wasn't going to let my worries get the best of this run! After fuel belts were loaded up and alarm clocks set we headed for bed. I slept ok. I woke up once, afraid that I had overslept and Laurie was ready to go without me. Turns out it was 2 in the morning and someone upstairs just had to get up for a potty trip. Enough to wake me up in a complete panic, though. Guess I was more nervous about this run than I thought! 

After a good breakfast of banana protein oatmeal, we headed down to the bike path. Laurie was telling tale of the adventures of Lance Gage when we arrived. We parked in the middle of our planned route so that we could stop and refill our water, Gatorade, and fuel. 

I think we didn't start out quite as early as we had planned that came back in the end to bite me in the butt. I have to watch the heat. If my core temp rises too far it could send me into an MS relapse. Its always in the back of my head when I head out for a run, especially this summer with it’s extraordinarily high temperatures. Regardless of time, off we went. We were on a mission. 17 miles. A new distance for both of us. I think 17 miles was looming as this huge thing in my brain. A psyche make it or break it distance. Funny thing is, EVERY new distance became a make it or break it distance.

We started out great. The miles were ticking by rather uneventfully. I like going down to the bike path to run. It’s a nice change of scenery from the streets of Wilton. Running long distances around out little town is a different kind of training. One I will discuss in my blog about 22 miles. I felt pretty good going into this run, and I think that my positive mental state was helping my body cope with this new distance. Today’s run was also an experiment in new and different fueling options. I will tell you the truth, most of my nervousness stemmed from this very point. Experimenting with new things leaves me open to them not working and there I am stranded 12 miles into a 17 mile run, on empty, and struggling. We went with Fig Newtons and gummy bears. (I don’t like gummy bears generally. I think they taste weird.) I packed a few extra GU packets just in case the fear of crashing came true. I think having the back stash helped alleviate the worry some. The LAST thing I wanted was for that to poison my mindset. The Newtons were a nice change of pace. The sensation of CHEWING fuel instead of shooting it down my throat in an effort to not taste it was a foreign concept when it came to fuel! LOL
By this time we had reached our car and hit the restrooms, restocked our water (it was getting HOT) and Gatorade and discussed how long we would run for. 17 miles was scheduled, but we were both feeling AWESOME, so we were trying to decide if we would tempt fate and go a little farther… We decided on 18 miles and took off down the path in the other direction. We got closer and closer to Hampton, the heat started to hit me hard. I had to slow my pace, but there was no way I was going to stop. Laurie went ahead of me to the decided turn around. She thought I was going to stand there and wait for her to return to the spot, but I followed her. I was just going to keep going (at a slower, more heat appropriate pace) and then when we met up, I would turn around. So I kept going, and going… and going. I started to wonder what happened to Laurie. Did I miss her? The Garmin’s distance kept inches up and up… still no Laurie. We had joked about making it a 20 mile run. She wouldn’t have taken that seriously… would she?  FINALLY off in the distance, I see her orange shirt. She thought I was waiting for her (as IF) and made her run 19 miles. I was NOT in the best shape. It was just shy of 2 miles back to the car. There was a nice area with shady benches, 17 miles was what was scheduled for that day, and I had completed that distance. There was NO reason I couldn’t stop and wait for Laurie to finish and come pick me up. Nothing except that voice in my head that said “Don’t Quit.” It would have felt like quitting. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t have that in my psyche. It would have crushed me. Yes, I completed the distance, but I would have quit before I was done. I wasn’t done. Yes, I walked most of the last mile. Yes, I was tired. Yes, I was hot. I wasn’t going to quit. I was not hurting except for the fatigue. I HAD to finish. I had to because I knew that I could. I know when I have to stop. I know when I have reached my limit, but this wasn’t it.
It was probably the slowest I have ever run, but I did it. I finished. Not too long after Laurie. I tried to keep her in my sights. It is what I do, even during races. I keep her in my sights and it lets me know that I am still going. Even when everything else has shut down and I am running on training and memory, I know that if I can see her, I will finish.  I was actually pretty light headed and a little nauseous when we got done. Nurse Laurie kicked in and made me drink Gatorade and do whatever else it was that she made me do. I don’t really remember. HA!

Good or bad, I did it. I didn’t quit. I ran farther than I had ever run before. I ended up being only ¾ mile shy of Laurie’s 19. I won’t pretend that it was a pretty or even an ideal run, but it was epic. It was what I needed it to be. I could have quit. Laurie gave me an out. I could have taken it. I didn’t. I wasn’t done. I wasn’t going to stop until I was done. Right or wrong, I know that my sheer determination will carry me to the end. I don’t fear this marathon. I respect the distance, but I no longer fear it, because I know that when it comes down to it, my desire to finish will carry me to the end.
That and following behind my Running Partner.

Until Next Time, Run On and Be Happy.

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