If you had told me a year ago that I would be training for a marathon or starting a blog to inspire others to reach their own personal goals, I would not have believed you. And yet, here we go!
I am knee deep into training for the 2016 Chicago Marathon, which will be my first marathon. Yesterday, I ran my farthest distance to date – a whopping 18 miles in the fun filled Houston humidity. I ran with two friends who are also training for Fall marathons and to beat the heat we met up at 5:30AM to start cranking out the miles.
We started out going strong, keeping an easy pace and talking of all the problems we each faced that week with work/friends/family etc. When you run with someone for 2-3 hours every Saturday, you will LEARN A LOT about them. The stories passed the time and the sun came up and everything was still glistening and gliding as planned. Our route spanned many different areas of Houston and I began to realize that water fountains may be an issue for me. I carry a handheld water bottle, but I was draining it. Silently cursing the pepsi I had with dinner the night before instead of hydrating in preparation for today. A few times I had to run a mile or two without seeing a fountain to refill. While running around Rice University, I was seriously considering writing a letter to someone about why there are not more water fountains. It’s Houston, so it shouldn’t be a surprise it’s hot outside… And isn’t everyone else feeling as terrible as I am right now?! Probably not – most other runners we are seeing at this time are probably not on their 12th mile with 6 miles remaining.
I start showing the early signs of falling behind – taking advantage of any and all opportunities to walk or stop completely. My two friends continued to chat, while I grew more quiet and realized I was very out of breath. Most “easy paced” runs are supposed to be ran at a pace when you can continue a conversation. You should be tired, but you should be comfortable. I was growing more and more uncomfortable with every step. I knew I could keep going, but I didn’t know how much I was willing to give.
16 Miles and here I am smiling – though I should note I am only smiling because I am not running at this moment and even then I am using the side of the bridge as an arm rest! Unlike any other activity I can think of, on this morning we were thankful for the overcast and the light rain.
These last two miles are hard to explain. It became a constant internal debate between running and wanting to stop, but of course this is all occurring while I am still running. That in itself should mean I have the energy to keep going, but the mind tricks win and when my watch hit 17 I hit another wall and had to stop. One more mile seemed like an eternity. With pep talk from my friends I got it together and kept going at a surprisingly faster pace.
Running new distances can be scary because it’s unknown territory. Half the battle is mentally believing you can do it. And I think the other half is being comfortable with the pain. While there can be a list of reasons to have a “bad” run, training for this marathon has shown me to take each week one at a time. This won’t be the last time I crater during a run, but this run is only one of many. Next week I have 20 miles on the calendar. Let’s hope this experience makes next weeks an even smoother adventure!