Posted by: runawaynotes | October 20, 2013

One week to go…

Well, so much for me keeping up with my writing during this training season. I could come up with some pretty valid excuses – busy work schedule, my computer dying on me, etc. But the truth is – I just really didn’t feel like writing during these past 4 months. So, now that I only have one week left to go before my race, I am trying to sort out what was going through my head during this training season that made me not feel like sharing my experience this time. 

Looking back at my first marathon training season, I remember it as being one giant emotional roller coaster, full of ups and downs. Every week was a new challenge. Every long run was a personal record – I kept surprising myself with how much farther I could go and how much harder I could push myself. Yes, there were challenges – I struggled with a knee injury; I had an intense work schedule that left me with just precious few hours of sleep every night; there were a few bad runs that filled me with self-doubt; there was lack of (or rather complete absence of) any social life outside of running. But all of those things seemed to balance out against all the positives – like the boost of confidence I would get after conquering a new distance or how great I felt in my own body. Well, this training season was nothing like that.

If I had to describe this training season, three words come to mind: blood, sweat, and tears. There was blood on my chest and back where the heart rate monitor strap rubbed me raw every morning when I was running in Dallas summer humidity, and there was blood on my hands and knees when I took a rough spill at mile 6 of my 22 miler. Then there was sweat, buckets and buckets of it, drenching my hair and my running clothes, soaking into my car seat, the smell of it just clinging to me – like I could never quite wash it all off. My hair became limp and dull from all the washing, and I’ve definitely gained a few fine lines on my forehead and around my eyes because the damn sweat would wash all the sunscreen off my face. And, finally, there were tears.

There were angry tears at the end of a hot 20 miler, when I had less than 0.5 mile left to go, but I honestly didn’t feel like I was going to make it. And when I finally stumbled into the RunOn store, stretched out on the cool floor, and felt the world spinning around me, there were tears of bone-deep exhaustion. Then there were defeated tears, when I was driving back home after quitting at mile 12 of an 18 miler. My heart rate started going erratic that day, so I made a decision to stop. But once I made it back to the store, I was feeling fine again, which made me feel like such a pathetic quitter. And let’s not forget the tears of pain when my husband was helping me roll out my tight IT-band and calves. My muscles were so tight that the slightest pressure from the roller felt like someone was pouring boiling water on my skin. My poor husband had this look on this face that was part horror part fascination as I was biting into my pillow, tears streaming down my cheeks, telling him that I wanted to keep going. I hope that experience did not leave him with any permanent emotional trauma.

And then there was last Tuesday. You know the Tuesday I’m talking about. It was the day when this little announcement was posted on MCM web site:

Dear Runners,

Since the government shutdown occurred, the Marine Corps Marathon continues its coordination with hopes of a conclusion in time to host the event without impact. Without a resolution to the government shutdown this week, the MCM as planned is in jeopardy of being cancelled.

While still considering and exploring all possible options, the MCM has targeted this Saturday, October 19 as the date to officially notify runners of the status of the event. It is sincerely the hope of everyone associated with the organization of this event that MCM participants can run as planned.

Boy, were there tears that day – the angry, helpless, frustrated tears of “I have worked so hard!” and “How dare they!” I believe there was also wine involved. And chocolate, always chocolate. Fortunately, our Congress turned out to be just a little more reasonable than hurricane Sandy, so we are still on (or, according to Rick Nealis, “We are SO on!!!”).

So there you have it – my training season in a nutshell. This is pretty much what it felt like to me. And this is the real reason why I didn’t feel like writing anything for so long. I just felt like each entry would be another rehashing of “My life sucks” and “I hate everything”, and who wants to read that? I mean, were there positive things about this training season? – Or course there were. However, unlike my first marathon training, when everything felt vibrant and new, this time all the positive emotions were muted. I already knew I could do the distance. I was trying to get some reassurance that I could do it faster, finish stronger, thrive instead of just getting by. Unfortunately, Texas heat and brutal humidity got in the way. I am heading to DC next week not knowing whether or not I am going to be able to top my Dallas marathon results.

So, what is my takeaway from this training season? Well, I did learn a few things about running and about myself. I learned that my mind tends to give out A LOT sooner than my body does. I also learned that physical pain goes away a lot quicker than the feeling of defeat and disappointment that I get when I quit half way through the run. I learned that having a friend to talk to can go a long way in distracting you from the heat, and the humidity, and the hills. I learned that sometimes I just need to cut myself a little slack and allow myself to be tired and frustrated and lazy, as long as the next day I get back into the saddle and keep moving forward. Finally, I learned that I need a break.

Yes, I need a break from marathon training. I need some time in my life when everything does not revolve around my training schedule and diet plan. I want to be able to sleep in on the weekends. I want to be able to stay out late on Saturday nights. I want to be able to hang out with my friends and have something to talk about besides which one of my body parts is hurting this week and how many miles I am doing this weekend. And most importantly, I want to run because I enjoy running, not because I have to. I want to lace up my sneakers because it’s a gorgeous morning outside and I just want to go out there and run. I want to come back home feeling exhilarated and energized, not sore and exhausted. And after a few months of doing this, I want to realize that I want to run a marathon again.

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