So finally I ran a 20 miler. I didn’t know what to expect, and to finish was not what I expected at all. I still can’t believe I actually did it. Part of me thinks that little Claude was lying to me, like my nike plus used to, the little cheater, but alas 20 miles down in the books. So I don’t want to toot my own horn and I know some of you run this all the time, but it was a big first for me, and there were a lot of things that happened on the way that I knew I would HAVE to share with you guys.
The night before I just kept telling myself that I could do it. I wasn’t scared of it, and I knew if I had to walk, crawl or slog my way through it, I could at least try. I got up at 6 am and wanted to take off at 6:30. I had a muffin, three shot blok and got my fuel belt ready. I packed in three bloks to have at the 4 miler make. It started off great. I was really amp’ing myself up over it. I kept telling myself that I COULD do it, and I WOULD do it. Repeating something in your head is really helpful. I was going to run an 8 mile loop, a 4 mile loop the opposite way, and then the 8 mile loop that I ran earlier. Each end of the loop was going to pass by my house because I hadn’t had time to get the extra pouch for my fuel belt yet so I was just going to grab my gus from home.
The farthest I’ve ever ran before this weekend was only about 17.6 miles, and there were a lot of breaks in between since I ran the 10k and ran to the starting line and home after. I started off wearing my arm warmers, shorts and a t-shirt. I felt very good for the first 7 miles. I didn’t look down at Claude to see my pace, I just let myself go, and enjoyed the fresh beginning of a new day. I was instantly in the ‘zone’ and every mile ticked down I just though to myself, “Okay, that’s only 18 left, now 17 left, now 16 left.” I ate shot bloks at mile 4, this was of course when a nice old guy was running by me and he said hello. I was half chewing, half choking, half trying to breath and I mumbled/drooled out a hello back. He probably thought I was some crazy freak.
It was during this time when I started to imagine myself running a full marathon. I started to think of what I was going to wear on race day, what it would be like to cross the finish line. I started to think about all the girls I’m going to be running with from San Fransisco and Oregon, and how excited I am to see everyone and what a great weekend it will be. Then I started to think, well this is my FIRST marathon, I feel like I should dedicate this to someone. I thought about making a shirt that said, “In memory/honor or something along those lines, of my Mom.” I thought about putting a picture on the shirt, what I would want it to say. Then I started thinking about this more and more, and I thought about well if I ever make it to Boston, I would much rather dedicate that race to her, or the race I BQ at to her, and I don’t know if I want a shirt with her picture on it, or people to feel bad for me, etc. etc. Then my thought process changed to something else and I forgot about that.
Once I got to 8 miles I had to RACE to the bathroom back at my house. I realized this could be an issue, we are going to have to work on that. Then I got three more shot blok and took off again. While at home I also took off my arm warmers. I felt good on the 4 mile loop still and kept counting down the miles. For the first 8+4 loops I didn’t listen to music and just enjoyed my run, not caring about my pace. There was one spot where it smelled like a heap of dead fish, and another where it smelled so strongly of bacon. I realized I cannot smell things on my run or they make me gag. I thought I was going to throw up during these smelly points. There was a huge 177 mile relay race going on and I would smile at the racers walking or running by and sometimes encouraged them with something random like, “Way to go!” I’m so original, I know. They were running from Santa Barbara to Dana Point in relay teams. That was kind of exciting.
After four miles, I stopped at home and went to the bathroom yet again. I made sure both my ‘home’ stops were only three minutes. I took yet another gu and took off to finish this run. At this point it was pretty hot out so I decided to brave the elements and run without a shirt. That is the only way I’m getting back in shape. If I run without a shirt then I feel like I have to do extra sit ups. :) I grabbed my ipod for this last loop of the run as well because I knew this was going to be where I needed distractions. I took off and was into my run about 13 miles. Then in the distance I saw a huge crowd of walkers on the beach path. I knew this wasn’t just a random group of walkers, but it had to be yet another organized event. I was interested to see what it was again. I got closer and closer, and realized it was the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. After a little research this morning I realized it wasn’t the actual walk, but a Training Mock Walk, but still everyone was wearing pink and excited to be out and walking and raising awareness to breast cancer on this Saturday. It looked like it could be the real walk there were so many people.
Unexpectedly, I all of a sudden felt my heart start to burn with a familiar hurt, and my breathing was hard. This is when I lost it. I started crying. It was mile 14, I had 6 more to go and I was crying while running next to these walkers. My nose was sniffling and I was just looking down and reminding myself to keep going. To keep putting one foot in front of the other one. They were walking against the route I was running and all saw me crying while running along. Though I had my music on I could hear my breathing and it was weird like shallow wheezing.
I had done the Avon 3-day walk when my mom was still alive my junior year in High School. I had worn the pink gear, I had walked the 60 miles, and my mom (and entire family) were there supporting me through the entire thing. It was a great experience and seeing these women walking was just inspiring and it reminded me so much of my mom it turned me into a wheezing/running/crying mess.
I kept telling myself to suck it up and stop crying, but I couldn’t. It was a weird weird mile. I hate crying in front of other people and I just took some deep breaths and kept running. I remember feeling a tear go down my cheek and I thought to myself, really, REALLY you are seriously CRYING?! Then, just as quickly as I started choking up, I stopped crying and was okay to finish the run. The last 6 miler were good. It was once I got to mile 17, I was hurting, my butt was killing me. I have never even felt pain in my butt when I run at all. I got back to my house and thought about my run. I had completed it, I had broke down in the middle and still kept going. Sometimes that’s all you need to keep going. I took an ice bath and then showered and laid in my bed for some time watching the Penn Relays and the NFL draft.
I think it reminded me so much of my mom and how she would be so proud of me for running a full marathon. It reminded me so much of how many people are affected by breast cancer, and how many people we need to find a cure for. I’m sure people were like WHAT IN THE WORLD IS WRONG WITH THIS GIRL. When you are tired, and running, and crying, it’s hard to breathe.
Doing this run brought so many emotions out, looking back on it now, I would have NEVER expected that something like that would remind me of my mom, none the less make me cry and break down in the middle of a long run. It also made me realize that I can run a full marathon. I was beginning to get nervous and I know the brutalness of a full marathon doesn’t even come until the 20th mile, but you know what, bring it on. If you go in with the attitude that it’s going to be too hard, that you won’t like it, that it’s going to stink, that you’re hurt, that you can’t do it, guess what…
It is going to be too hard, you won’t like it, it is going to stink, you will be hurt and you won’t be able to do it.
I’ve played this mental game with myself, and almost got caught up in it again last night. Sunday after the 20 miler was my scheduled rest day and last night when I got home it was cold. I was exhausted and didn’t want to run, but decided to go out to ‘loosen up’ I planned to run a four miler but when I started I was incredibly sore. I didn’t even realize how sore I was. I told myself that I HAD to do four miles, and that if they were slow or fast they were going to get done, so I ran 2 miles out away from my house so I couldn’t go back after two miles. After the first mile, I had gotten rid of my sore stiffness and was chugging along and knew that I would be fine for four miles. So fine that my last mile was 7:45. I had to allow myself a chance for success.
The two weeks leading up to my 20 miler, I probably put in about 8 miles in each of those weeks. Believing in yourself works wonders. Running is hard, it’s just a mental game of pushing yourself to your personal limit. It’s not easy, but no one ever said anything that was worth it was easy. Allow yourself to succeed.