Two simple little words that made a huge difference on Sunday.
Sunday was my last long run before the Vermont City marathon – a planned 22 miles. And I headed out early feeling calm and ready.
But, sometimes things don’t go quite as we plan and we end up needing a mantra to get us through. And sometimes that mantra finds us.
All was well until mile 10 when I stopped to pull my gel out of my pocket. And seeing a group of cyclists headed towards me ( knowing it could get dangerous if a car joined the mix on this narrow road), I opted to eat my gel there and wait for them to pass.
As soon as I started running again, everything felt tired and heavy. And the mind games started – you know…question everything.
I told myself it would get better. I told myself, just make it to 11 and see how you feel.
But I am an overthinker. In both life and running. I’m always planning ahead and then stressing over things that are like 2 months (or 5 miles) out.
I tried to calm myself with my usual “clear your head” “let it go” “just stop” kinda stuff. And I got to 11, then 13. And then, the my mind bounced around again.
I was thinking ahead to the next gel, and how far can I make it before I have to walk. And just generally worrying myself.
Then two words popped into my head. Be Present.
Just pay attention to where you are. Be in the mile you’re in. The rest will happen as it happens.
Stop and smell the lilacs. Bark back at the dogs. Watch the birds fly by.
And I got to mile 16. And reminded myself again. And then to 18. At 18 I decided I was going to walk 1/4 mile so I could eat my chews. But after 1/10 of a mile I realized I didn’t need to walk and started running again.
To mile 19.25. Where again I was going to walk a 1/4 mile, but was fine with 1/10.
And I hit mile 20 feeling good. And ran all of mile 21, to actually a little past it. I took one last walk break of about .15. And then ran strong to finish at 22.02.
Looking at my watch I smiled. Because I realized that I if I can do this again in Burlington, I could walk the last four miles and still finish under 5 hours. Something even a month ago I wasn’t sure I could do.
I’m ready to taper. I’m feeling really good about the work I’ve put in. And I know, when I tow the start line in 11 days, I just need to remember to Be Present. 🙂
Sometimes, the run you get is exactly the run you need.
Even if you maybe kinda had the mother of all meltdowns before heading out the door. LOL Does anyone else do that? Get SO worked up before going for a long run? I mean, its not like my self-worth is based on how fast or how far I go on a Sunday. And yet, sometimes it feels like it is. So I get buried under this imaginary pressure.
Especially as its now 25 days to Vermont City. And this training cycle has been less than ideal. Stuff going on every other weekend, challenging weather and well, this darn hamstring thing that just will not go away. Although in retrospect, its continually improving. It just doesn’t always seem like it.
So yeah, facing the idea of 20 miles in the rain Sunday morning in addition to all that other stuff….I kinda freaked. (Sorry babe!) And then went all suck it up buttercup and went. And was greatly rewarded.
The goal was to start slow, and stay slow and see just how much of it I could do. The 18 miles two weeks before, was a lot less running than i’d have liked. So I had to tell myself, it doesn’t matter how slow this run is…if it helps you run them all.
I didn’t look at my watch…I felt it beep the miles, but I refused to be ruled by a number. I saw a hawk sitting by a pond. I saw a gorgeous fox run across the road. I got a text of encouragement from the hubs (Thanks babe!). I spent a lot of time telling myself to Get Out Of My Head and just run. It got damp and it rained and my fingers became useless. I found an aquatic creature out ‘swimming’ too.
I remembered Shalane saying at some point during the marathon it felt like she wasn’t even wearing shorts, and I knew EXACTLY what she meant. LOL
When I hit mile 14 somehow miraculously still running, I aimed for 15. When I hit 15 I tried for 16… At 17, and still running (albeit likely slower) it started to become a mission. And at mile 18, still running, I started to smile. Cuz now it was game on and there was NO way I wasn’t finishing these miles running.
When my watched beeped the magical sound of mile 20 complete….I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Instead I texted my running friend (who was out running her long run in a matching outfit (twinsies, yay!)) and said “I ran the whole f@$%ng 20”. I then slowly and gingerly ambled into the house (I finished .05 from my door – convenient!) and said “Guess what I just did!”
At that moment, it was the Best Run Ever.
I was tired. I was sore. And I was so incredibly happy. Its not where I used to be…but it doesn’t matter. Because it was exactly what I needed that day.
A side note… today is also 5 years from the day I broke my hip in a running “accident”. Two weeks after my 3rd marathon (Boston 2013). Spending four months on crutches and rebuilding almost from scratch for my 4th (Disney – January 2014) was a challenge. Yet now here I am training for my 14th. Its all about perspective. Belief you can overcome anything…and that you can’t keep a good runner down.
That’s how I described my long run this weekend to a friend who asked.
It wasn’t great. It still isn’t ME. But it had moments of brilliance. And that’s progress.
At this point, i’m just happy for progress. I’ve been stretching like its my job, only running 3 days a week, doing strength work in the affected areas and still hoping that “faith trust and pixie dust” can add an extra edge.
Because, while as we face our FOURTH freaking nor’easter of the month, I know that racing season is rapidly approaching and i’m still kinda freaking out about the Vermont City marathon. After this weekend’s run tho, i’m feeling a lot better about it.
Because see….something finally went right. Around mile 4.
The first 3 miles were the usual – my hamstring feels wonky when I land, my hips aren’t doing what they should – but I knew i just had to work through it.
Just after I hit mile 4, everything opened up and I was running like normal. I don’t know how and I didn’t even notice until I started down a hill and was like WHOA, nothing’s shaking. I’m not questioning every foot placement. I’m running without thinking about running.
I ended up running to mile 10 – which actually is 2 miles further than the last long run – before the first walk break. I did have to stop and stretch every couple of miles, because things started to tighten back up. But that’s better than walking.
I did a total of 14.5 miles. At 13.17 I stopped my watch because 1), it was 3/17 and its ‘cute’ and 2) because I didn’t want longer walk breaks to screw up my recorded overall mileage pace. LOL
I still have a long ways to go in the next 70ish days, and I know that Vermont is going to be a slow marathon, but according to runner math, if all I can run is what I did this weekend and then walk the final 12, I can still finish under the time limit.
When I was running I had a mantra going – Every Step is Progress. I kept repeating it to keep my spirits up. Because its hard when you can’t run like yourself. When your slower pace feels as hard as your faster one used to. But attitude plays a HUGE part in running.
And while i’m calling this a non-injury (and as god is my witness I will never do standing dead lifts again) it’s still a road to recovery. I’m still coming back from something (albeit something stupid) and I have to be proud of the fight.
Don’t you just love when something really cool happens on a run?
Sunday I had 13 miles on the schedule, and since Saturday’s insane wind (and fear of closed roads from fallen trees) kept me from getting in a short run with my training partner, I decided to split it up and get the best of both worlds.
A 3.25 mile loop with the hubs, and then 10 on my own.
The “not an injury” is still clinging to life, although it’s definitely improving. So the “warmup” miles were a little slower than I liked. But, any run where you get to chat and laugh with someone is a good run. 🙂 And the hubs is becoming such a great runner – I’m so proud and looking forward to having a joint race calendar this year.
For my 10 miles alone, I opted to run into the center of my town because a) sidewalks b) its flat and c) I wanted to kind of “assess the damage” from the storm.
And about 3 miles in, it got eerie. All the business were closed. None of them had power back yet. Seeing the buildings dark and the parking lots empty was kind of “post apocalyptic” and I wanted to check over my shoulder for zombies. Lol
But I continued on to the spot in the middle of town where the sidewalk ends. And when I turned around and looked down…I saw this!
I’m not a girl to leave a fortune cookie unopened…. so I had to. And look what I found inside!
Of course, “I’ve got a dream” from Tangled instantly popped into my head.
And I spent the next few miles singing “I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream…I just want to make it to mile 13.”
And of course I did make it. And somehow, with a few stops to stretch, I managed to run it all. Yay!
Major progress from last week. (Even if we still have some rehab work to do.)
I guessed I picked the right spot to turn around… you never know where you’ll find motivation (and some luck) on a run. 🙂
Anyone who lost a week of training to the flu, raise your hand! 🖐🏻🖐🏻🖐🏻
Ungh…I thought I was safe. I dodged the ‘Dopey Flu’ that had plagued Disney and gotten so many of my fellow runners sick. But one week of crazy immune-system lowering work stress followed by an encounter with a flu/bronchitis sufferer and BAM…. down for the count. 😷
The thing about being wicked sick is that not only can you not work out, but you don’t even care that you can’t work out.
I quarantined myself in the guest room and the far end of the couch, I went through a box of tissues and a half a jar of hand gel, and I traded in marathon training for netflix marathon training. LOL
It hit on a Tuesday….I did not emerge from the pit of misery until sometime on Saturday. The moment I stepped out into sunlight I felt like a butterfly emerging from her cocoon. 🦋 It was glorious.
The fog had lifted enough that I was eager to try a short run. Which was perfect as the hubs was due for one too. And omg, it was 50 degrees out. So, impossible to resist.
Just an easy little 5k, alongside my best friend and new favorite training partner, was just what I needed. And shout out to the hubs – he’s a natural. So i’m glad that running the Disney 5k was enough fun that he’s decided to keep running. It will be nice having company on some short runs.
Sunday I was feeling WAY more human and decided to run again. Goal was 6 miles, and running at least 4.5 of it. I started out slow, hit a groove and just enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine i’d been missing.
And then that runner, coming from the other direction, turned behind me down a cul de sac and I had to go faster to make sure she didn’t catch me. LOL And that felt amazing…for about two miles, when I realized it may not have been my smartest idea. Its okay, I slowed down and finished all 6 running.
I just learned one does not simply race a 10k while recovering from the flu. What one DOES do however, is race hunt. Not that I needed to find a race, more that its fun to look. Its race window shopping! Until you know, you find one that you just have to have.
I’m seriously considering adding the Providence half to my calendar. Its 3 weeks before Vermont City, which is perfect timing for a time trail (like I did last year with the Blackstone half), its a course I know well. And, it has a 5k that the hubs could run as something to do while waiting for me to finish. All good reasons.
I would love a do-over on this past week, but that isn’t happening. Instead i’m going to be grateful that January is technically off-season.
And for now, I gotta kick the rest of this flu before I can kick asphalt.
I knew before I even left the house, that this run was extremely likely to go downhill. And not in the “whee, this is a fun hill to cruise down” kind of way.
I mean like spectacularly awful crash and burn.
Yet, with only 6 weeks until the Adirondack Marathon, it had to happen.
The schedule called for 18 miles. And I planned out a route that had some really good training hills and a loop through a local park with a menagerie of animals (not quite a zoo) we’ve always called Goat World.
Nothing. And I meant NOTHING went according to plan. Lol
It was 70 and 95% humidity when I headed out. By mile 2.5 I was already starting to drink my water. I had my buddy h2o, which only holds 10 ounces. But that’s okay, because I knew there were a couple fountains along the route where I could refill. Or so I thought.
Hmmm this could be a problem. I’m fairly sure that race starts at Goat World. I may need to change my route.
Of course, since I’ve taken to carrying my iPod instead of phone, I had to wait a 1/2 mile until I got to a wi-fi hotspot to confirm. And sure enough…I was on the course. A 1/2 hour before it started.
I was also out of water by now. And the first water fountain I knew of? Was turned off. Damn.
Enticed by the idea of going by and seeing all the 5k runners, trying to figure out where I could get / buy water, and knowing that if I turned around where I was thinking to, I could end up SO in the way of the race, I headed towards Goat World.
And…like a gift from the running gods, encountered a water stop. Those awesome race volunteers took pity on me and left me fill my water bottle, and wished me luck.
A 1/4 mile later, I encountered the most aggressive dog I’ve ever met on a run. A large German shepherd, barking like he wanted to eat me and coming across the street at me. So, I stopped. And faced him. And he backed down and went home. I said out loud to him “what the hell was that?” And continued on and up.
I was in the hilly section now, and the sun was shining. And I was starting to get nauseous. I had to stop for a minute to calm myself down. And then headed past where the runners were gathering for the race.
Man I love being surrounded by runners. The energy is just contagious. I smiled at a few, wished a couple luck, and then encountered the mother of all downhills.
The kind of downhill that makes you seriously question if you can make it down without falling headfirst. But, this was important for Adirondack. Because I know there’s a couple of those in the first half of the race.
I reached the bottom at mile 10. Stood in the shade to open a gel, and seriously questioned myself. I kinda wanted to call for a ride home. I was trying to figure out if I could call it at 12 and save the 18 for next weekend.
I was miserable. Really miserable. But I was not going down without a fight. Time to muscle up, buttercup. Because we don’t train just to make the race easier. We also train to learn how to embrace the suck.
I did, however, decide that this was now going to be for time versus distance. And that I could likely pull off 16 miles in the time 18 should have taken. 3 hours.
I stopped to buy a bottle of water. Where I of course forgot to stop my watch. This led to a horribly skewed time for that mile, so I don’t really know what my average was. Lol but that’s okay. It was slow.
Because again, I was starting to feel ill. And stopping constantly to drink water. And I was SO gritty that it hurt to wipe my face and neck.
And then I got my second gift from the running gods at mile 11. Sprinklers!! A low long line of sprinklers. And I probably stood there for 3 full minutes with a smile on my face.
Slightly rejuvenated I continued on, and opted to run/walk the rest. Hopefully more running than walking, but I didn’t even care.
I stopped for a second if I needed to. I walked when I had to. And I just kept moving.
Same as the area code for the Adirondack marathon. #runningsigns
And I thought back to 2015, the last time I ran Adirondack. And I remembered how hard those last few miles were. And that I never gave up.
So I continued on. Suffering but moving. Hoping that by powering through now, it will teach me to better handle it if it happens again next month.
By mile 15.6 I was making deals with myself. I was near my house and walking/sprinting the tiniest intervals. Unbeknownst to me, the hubs had seen me, and told me later he’s never seen me look like i was fighting so hard for every step. I usually look like I’m having fun. Lol
But I finished. And saw him out in the yard with Gus. I waved, and slowly hobbled up.
How’s it going babe, he asked. Not good, I replied. Then I laughed. Because 16 miles had never hurt that bad. And it suddenly became hilarious.
I grabbed the lightpost next to me, hugged it for dear life, and then handed him my iPod. I needed a picture. One where I can look back and remember that even when it’s bad, it’s all good.