When the Hershey Half Marathon was over, the nerves set in and the real training seemed to begin. The moment we took one step past 13.1, it was the furthest we’d gone and now our long runs are truly uncharted territory. To date, Mama D and I have logged our longest run at 16 miles, which we just completed this past Saturday. Somehow, the trifecta of awesomeness was upon us (it helped that we were doped up on antibiotics and ibuprofen) and I cant’ even tell you what it was, but we finished our run in 2:58:27. And that’s with 2 “find a spot in the woods” potty breaks and a stretch break at mile 14 due to crampy calves. To say that we were happy with that run is an understatement. Marathon training has been such a roller coaster ride filled with anxiety, anticipation, doubt, bubbling excitement, fear, laser-like focus, and a sense of incredible accomplishment that doesn’t even have a word to describe it. I feel like when you sign up for a marathon and finally sit down to look at the weeks of increasing mileage, it’s overwhelming, but it all seems doable somehow. What that tidy little one page training plan doesn’t map out for you is the way that daily life will seem like it’s challenging every part of the training. For example, we had two kids start in two new schools this year. So that means 2x the new germs being brought into the house and 2x the beatings our immune systems have taken. Since mid-September, someone in our house has been sick almost every week. Two weeks ago, one of my boys and I had the stomach virus which meant mid-week runs were derailed. Last week, before our 16 mile run I had strep throat and a sinus infection and Mama D had bronchitis. It started to feel like registering for this marathon was like signing up to go to battle … against myself. I didn’t anticipate that my daughter’s transition to 7th grade would be so difficult, that we’d spend a monumental amount of time re-teaching her advanced pre-algebra lessons most nights. I didn’t anticipate how a few longer work days, a teething 2-year-old, conferences, family activities, and laundry would feel like such a violation to my training. Physically, I wasn’t prepared to have really sore and achy feet, to feel perpetually dehydrated, and to devour every carb (definitely the bad ones) that I lay eyes on. If I don’t eat bread at almost every meal, the world just might come to an end. Also, lately I crave beer and I don’t know what that’s about.
All that said, I’ve been working through some very important life lessons so far and I’d like to share them with you.
1. Do it scared. I may have written about this before, but it’s even more true now. It doesn’t matter if the road to any one of your goals is long and twisty and makes you nervous, go anyway. Fear may come with you and may even be along side of you, just don’t let it get in front of you so you can’t see. Did that sound like a fortune cookie or what?!
2. Be adaptable. Understand that in every experience there is an opportunity to learn something about yourself and the world around you. Be open to changing the way you move within the space and time in which you occupy (see 3rd sentence of #4).
3. Cliche, but…You are stronger than you ever imagined you could be (like superhero strong). Mentally, physically, spiritually, anatomically… But you’ll never realize this unless you persevere through the discomfort and get that “Marathon Mentality” (more on that another day). Go just a little further, push yourself a little harder, and test yourself with things that seem just a little out of reach (go back to #1). I never EVER thought I’d ever survive running 16 miles, yet here I am – running them, with walk breaks of course. I have no idea how I’m going to add 10 more to that, but I’m not willing to let that stop me today. Thinking like this = living with confidence. And confidence is sexy. Who doesn’t want to be sexy?
4. Find the time. No excuses. I now get up and do my early morning week day runs at 5:30/5:45 am on my dreadmill because it’s cold and dark outside. I couldn’t even get myself up and running at that time during the summer when it was light out and the world was already alive. Needless to say, I never EVER thought I’d survive multiple weeks in a row of running multiple times in a week before 6:00 am and starting long runs on Saturday morning at 6:30 am when the world is completely silent, but I’ve found that getting up and getting going before I can talk myself out of it serves me well for the rest of the day. Also, sleeping in your running outfit helps. Because when you get up and decide not to do it you feel the instant guilt of that decision. Don’t do the walk of shame to your bathroom and take off that perfectly dry sports bra. Just don’t do it.
One more thing, everyone who is marathon training (and doing it on a trail or on roads where you can’t make pit stops to fill up your water bottle) should get a Camelbak vest or backpack for hydration. I just got a 52 oz small backpack that’s actually made for cycling and I absolutely love it more than the hydration belt. Super comfortable and I can carry a lot more water.
So there you have it, my reflections at mile 16. If anyone has any advice to share to get us to mile 18 (EEK!) and then 20 (double EEK!), please share it with us in the comments section!
Get out there and blaze that trail,