Last week was rough. Not only was there a looming anxiety that I’d be running 13.1 miles on Saturday morning. I had sick kids, a full calendar, and a massive ‘to do’ list. I skipped the previous week’s recovery run on Sunday. Monday, I used my time to mow my lawn. Tuesday night was 5 miles of Fartlek. This is ‘speed play’ where there is no set time or distance in the plan. I took off faster than I intended for the first mile. The next few miles, I sped up and slowed down with no real structure. I averaged a pace that was no faster than my usual. The temperature was lower than the rest of the day, but the humidity was relentless. It made for an uncomfortable run.
Thursday’s run was a recommended 5 miles. I did not complete that task. I intended to run during the day while all the kids were at school. I hadn’t planned on one of the kids being too sick to go to school that day. My son was not well on Wednesday, so he stayed home Thursday as a precaution. He was feeling better and even a little feisty. With things I needed to get done piling up, I skipped running in the evening so I could run errands that I had intended to do during the day. I felt like my training had all come unwound and I wasn’t going to complete the full program. I was anxious and upset about the prospect it all blowing up in my face.
Saturday, while I had only run one time in the prior 7 days, I set out to run 13.1 miles on the course that the half marathon race will take place. The mentor I paired up with is one that I’ve run with in the past and she pushes me to run faster. She kept me running 10:30 minute miles for the entirety of the course and we shared conversation peppered with compliments of ‘good job’ and ‘keep going’. I was feeling rough near the end. The course wraps up looking out into fields that seem endless. There were corn stalks on either side that were tall and brown. The corn appeared to keep going. Each break in the field had me asking whether the next one was the last. I would glance at my watch and see the miles I’d completed believing that I couldn’t possibly keep myself moving for another 2 miles, 1.5 miles, half of a mile, etc. I kept telling myself that it was only 20 more minutes, 15 more minutes, 5 more minutes, etc. My mentor ran out a few strides in front of me and ‘pulled me in’ behind her while I focused on her feet, her back, her arms trying not to look at how seemingly endless the road ahead was. Finally, we saw the cars. We saw people standing by the table that held our keys and our snacks. We still had 1/4 mile to go. I asked if we could just pass up the entry to the parking lot and stay the trail until we hit our goal. We ran most of the 1/4 mile, then turned back to the parking lot to make up the rest. My watch hit 13.1 miles and we both exploded into outer space surrounded by rainbows and stuff. Ha, ha… Not at all. Nothing happened. We stopped running and walked out the last steps to a nice drink and a post workout snack. I started my post workout static stretching as we discussed the weather being ideal conditions for the run and how we couldn’t wait to get some coffee. I now know that I can run 13.1 miles stopping for a drink now and then and taking 3 nutrition gel packs along the way. I was mildly surprised that I wasn’t overwhelmed with emotion when I finished. I was so proud, but I didn’t cry or really react at all. I think I may have been stunned about what I’d done.
I actually ran errands after the run. I went with my family to that one huge store that has super centers. I had on my husband’s pants, a t-shirt, and flip-flops. I was walking along when suddenly, I was slipping. My flip-flop bent completely under my foot, my hip twisted, and my arm was trying to steady all of my body weight on a cooler in the center of the aisle. I felt like my toes had all bent backward and my hip was no longer letting me stride out properly. I looked back and there stood a puddle of something reddish and liquid. Right by the meat department. Gross. I found an employee and told them that I’d just slipped and pointed to where they needed to attend to the mess. When it was time to climb into my minivan to leave, I had to pull myself in. I felt like I’d been run over by that point.
Sunday, I felt better after taking some ibuprofen and sleeping off the previous day’s exhaustion. I was to run 3 miles. I put it off until the evening and feared that I’d try to skip out if I didn’t set out soon after my dinner settled. I set out to run that 3 miles. I turned on the GPS on my watch and set out walking up the street while waiting for it to say it was ready to track me. When it finally said so, I set out running. It was not a pretty run. I started out carefully trotting to avoid feeling the soreness in my legs. Once I warmed up, I enjoyed being out there.
I’m excited that I’m in week 11 of my 12 week program. I’m also a little sad that it’s almost all over. I remember how nervous I was to start this program and how I wasn’t sure I could really pull off running the distance I’d signed myself up for. Now, my group and I have set out for long runs every Saturday that have gotten longer each week. I’ve gotten faster and more sure of myself. I have new friends. I’m healthier and happier. The time of year is approaching where the gloom can take over and make it hard to smile and I already have running goals to make it less miserable.
Are you approaching the end of a program? Have you seen positive change? Do you have some new goals set for after you carry out your current one?