I have started freaking out about 26.2 miles more regularly than before. Today, walking to the bus stop, I was thinking about what the chances were I’d fall in leaves again close to race day. I mean, fall is coming, you guys! The leaves are going to FALL! Yeah, so its like that.
This Sunday, I ran 16 miles. My training plan has kind of gone sideways since I had some inflammation issues right in the middle of training for this marathon. My friends that I would normally run with were only slated for 14 miles, but I’m having to ramp up a little quicker because they’ve already done 18 (last week) and I have catching up without injury to do.
It was a solid run. We chatted away the miles and I found it to be mostly fun. Then, my brain short circuited. We were almost to the starting point at 14 miles, where they’d leave me to finish my last 2 miles alone. For no particular reason, my scumbag brain started in on me about how bad everything hurt after only 14 miles and how there was no way I could stand the pain of 26.2 miles. I stopped in my tracks. My friends Denise and Dianna ran on ahead and I walked slowly trying to clear my head and think about anything that wasn’t running. I saw a group walking together and I made myself pick up to a run, turn to them and say “Hello,” with the best smile I could muster. The little girls and their adult walking companion smiled back. I decided to be strong and at least get back to my friends. They came back to me and I told them I was just too far inside of my own head and needed a minute.
We got back to where we’d all parked and I tossed a shirt into the car, grabbed some sports drink from the cooler in my trunk, climbed into the driver’s seat, turned the car on, and then turned it back off and got out. I took off on my run to my friends yelling “Go, Jenn!” They were going into the local co-op grocery probably to get smoothies.
I ran south on the trail waving to every single person that went past me. Most passersby were on bikes. In my head, I joked that I should ask them to circle around and make sure I’m still alive in like 15 minutes. I tried to recall song lyrics. I looked at discarded things along the trail and the road and made up stories about why they had to be littered there. I have a pretty amusing imagination. I saw a sign that said “student mail,” and none of the universities in town were near my location, so I bet that sign had a really interesting story that probably involved vandalism and alcohol. Oh, there were beer bottle caps lined up in a perfect little row with most of them donning golden foil with some peeled away, but of the same type.
I turned around before I hit 15 because I didn’t feel like exploring the places beyond the trail like I often do. When I got back to my car, I paused and took a drink of water. I looked down and I saw a rock there. One of those kindness project rocks that people paint and hide and post to Facebook. I picked it up and examined it. There was a book painted on it. I started to move away and there sat another one. I couldn’t wait to show my kids those rocks and go somewhere to hide them. I stuffed them into the pack that held my gels earlier in the run and I took off to finish my run. I looked at my watch every few seconds hoping that I was finished and I could just walk back the car. I no longer felt completely exhausted, though. I had energy to move myself forward.
When I got back to my car after 16 miles and a little cool down walk, I actually spent a little extra time stretching at my car. I felt like people may have been looking at me, but it didn’t matter. I ran 16 miles. It was ugly and it was not the good kind of memorable. I started picking on myself and cutting myself down while I was still running. Even though I’d already crossed the halfway point for a marathon distance, I was tearing myself down. I stopped, I hit reset, and I moved on. They’re right about motivation. It doesn’t last and that’s why you have to keep finding things that spark that light inside.
I truly enjoy running and even though not every run is enjoyable, I’m doing something I take pride in. I’m cool with the people that think it’s crazy or pointless.
I got this on a postcard in the mail and it is going be one of my sparks for this weekend’s 20 mile run:
What keeps you going? Do you have any mantras that get you through the tough spots? I like “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” Good luck on your training goals! Maybe you could do a race for charity sometime, too?
My fundraising site is here: Click these words