Monday, April 23, 2012

It's almost here.

This is it!

At this time on Thursday, Phillip and I will be on the road on a very important road trip up to Illinois. 

At this time on Friday, Phillip and I, along with my dear cousin and good friend who are also running their big race, will have stuffed our faces with lots of pasta and be making an attempt to go to bed early to get as much sleep as we can.

At this time on Saturday, Phillip and I will more than likely be drinking a beer, stuffing our faces, or both, after having successfully run 26.2 miles.

At this time on Sunday, Phillip and I will driving back home to Georgia, exhausted yet incredibly proud of our new accomplishment.

It's hard to believe that we're less than a week away at this point.

I haven't written as much as I thought I would on this journey.  It ended up that I wrote more about my positive experiences and lessons learned, because I know there have been some people who read this that I think benefits, motivates, or at least relates to what I've been going through.

There haven't been many negative experiences written on here, and I guess that's because whenever I had a bad run I wanted to forget it as quickly as possible.

But believe me, there have been many bad runs.

Like in August when I tried running in 95 degree weather without any water.

And back in January when I was just getting back into running after a two month break and had such a hard time getting back into the routine and finding the motivation.  

Or the time I tried to run 14 miles and could only get in 10 before my knee cramped out on me and I could barely walk, let alone finish the last 4 miles.

Even the time I fell into a manhole.  Oh wait, I did write about that.  Haha.

So now let's talk about the last few weeks.

I cranked out 21 miles at the end of March.  My idea was to get in as many long runs up to and past 20 miles as possible.  My thought was to learn what "The Wall" was and how to get passed it.  Well, I learned what the Wall is, and have an idea how to get passed it, but I never did get any more 20+ miles in.

See, I quit paying attention to my training schedule.  I didn't think it was progressing fast enough in terms of distance per week, and so I took it into my own hands.  Probably not the best idea, but it's what I did.  So my 21 mile run was a week earlier than the training schedule.  My goal was then to run 23 miles the following week before I started to taper.

What seemed like a good idea at the time failed miserably.

I tried, I really did.  But all I could get out of me was 13 miles.  Still good, but no where near what I planned.  Despite this, I didn't allow myself to get too worked up over not finishing the 23 miles, because I felt that quality was better than quantity.  I had just run 21 miles the week before, so I knew it'd be ok to take it easy this week.  I was disappointed, but I had to listen to my body.

The following week was supposed to be a 13 mile run.  I thought I would do 16.  I started off great.  Felt really good.  But around mile 6, I started to get tired going up a really small hill.  I was desperate for water, even though I had Gatorade to drink.  I took a break and walked.  Eventually I found a water fountain and filled my water bottle.  I tried running again, but continued a walk/run pattern for the next 4 miles.  4 miles!  No good.  Finally after I hit around 10 miles (I don't even know, I was so frustrated), I gave up, turned off my stopwatch, and walked the rest of the way home. I walked so slow that it took me over an hour to get home.  I desperately wanted to call Phillip to come get me, but I thought he was out on his own run, only to find out later that he didn't go at all.  As soon as I got home I laid down and promptly fell right to sleep. I refused to find out how far I actually made it for days, and I cleared my stopwatch before getting a good look at my time.  It was that bad of a run.

At this point, I couldn't fathom how I'd be ready for this marathon in two weeks.  If I can barely run 10 miles, how in the world would I be ready for 26?

This isn't good.

I started to freak out.  My body was done.

Two weeks in a row and I couldn't finish what I started out for.

I decided that it's possible my body is rejecting these runs because of the 21 miles I had just cranked out.  Perhaps it took a lot more out of me than I realized.  I tell myself this, not knowing if there is any validity to it, but it makes me feel a little better.

A week away from race day, the training schedule said to run 8 miles.  My goal on Saturday was 10, but I compromised and ran 9.  And surprisingly enough, I felt great.  I kept a good pace and could have kept going, but decided it was more important to be kind to my body a week out.

Perhaps the reason why I had such a hard time really was that I needed a few weeks to recover from that long of a distance.

Maybe it was to teach myself not to give up.  Even if I had to quit early the day of the run, I was right back at it a week later.

Determination to overcome any mental walls in addition to the physical ones has been an incredibly hard yet very satisfying lesson to learn. 

Remind me this when I hit mile 20 this Saturday.

Only five more days. 

Good news!  I finally have a camera again, and will get to post pictures in the upcoming posts!  Yay for visually stimulating reads!

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