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Long distance running reminds me of being pregnant. It seems so chic, such a novel idea when you first get started. Sure I’ll sacrifice the next 9 months to grow another human life, babies are so darn cute! The idea is so magical. Even the first few months of morning sickness can’t seem to take away the excitement of a new life. The ultrasounds that bring on happy tears. Picking out the adorable teeny tiny outfits. Babyshowers! Oh the fun!!
And then fast forward to 39 weeks pregnant, you are miserable, your body is no longer your own, you can’t tie your shoes or sleep or button your pants or go 15 minutes without needing to pee. That adorable little human being you are housing is more like a parasite, giving you mega heartburn & taking up so much room you can hardly breathe or even sit comfortably or even eat much, and you find yourself wondering “WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!” (among wondering how on earth you can seek revenge on your significant other, now only referred to as “the man who did this to me!!!”) Or, if this is not your first rodeo, you say “What on earth compelled me to do this AGAIN? How could I have forgotten how much this sucks? (Can you tell I really didn’t enjoy pregnancy very much?)
But almost without fail, once 6 months have passed, you seem to only remember the good parts. Seeing your baby for the first time. Looking into their adorable eyes. How amazing it was to bring a new life into this world. None of the other gory, painful, miserable details. I think God blessed us with this short term pregnancy memory so that life would continue on. Otherwise, women would never have more than one baby in a lifetime.
Long (long) distance running is the same for me. Somewhere around the 22 mile mark, without fail, my legs decide they are done. It becomes a battle of the wills between my cardiovascular system and my muscular system. My heart and lungs are trucking along in zone 2, calm and happy as can be, when my legs start to whine and protest. Heart and lungs are like “dudes, really? You want to give up ALREADY? We’re just getting warmed up!” and my legs, not ones for confrontation, simply quit. I will them to go on further, while every single step forward feels like tiny gnomes stabbing my legs with their tiny pitchforks.
It’s around this point in the run where I remember “oh that’s right, marathons are NOT easy”. Something about being able to say “Oh yeah, I’ve run 6 marathons, I’m a marathon maniac” seems to numb my mind of the actual process of running a marathon and how it’s not nearly as fantastic, fun, and easy as you remember.
Yesterday I rang in New Years day by running, A LOT. Thanks to you guys responding to the challenge I put forth on my last post, together we raised $1,175.50 !!! That (combined with the money from the virtual run, still to be posted) put me over my $3,800.00 fundraising goal! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I honestly didn’t expect so many of you to reach out a helping hand! I’m honored to “know” all of you.
So as promised, I went to bed at 8:30 pm New Years Eve, woke up at 4:00 am New Years Day, with every intention to run 40 miles. I ate my breakfast, geared up, and at 5:00 am stepped outside ready to go…took my first step onto the road….
….and then I nearly landed on my face. Black Ice. Son of a monkey. It had been raining the day before, but my dad assured me that the low hanging fog would keep the ground and air “warm” (remember, warm is relative here, so that simply means “not freezing”). Sure enough, the temps dropped to about 29 degrees. So I decided to wait until the sun came up so I could at least see this ice.
7:30 am. The fog was so thick I thought it would never be light out. But finally I could see …at least a few feet in front of me…so I geared back up and headed out the door. And skated down the road once again. *&%$. I was really pissed. I had hoped to have this run done by mid afternoon, and every hour that ticked by really ruined my plans. Mother Nature does not care for plans, however, so I went back inside, got under my Snuggie on the couch….and fell asleep. 4 am is an early wake up call!
Somewhere around 10 am, as I was moping and my family poking fun at me (Dad says “Oh, you’re done with your run already?!”) mom came to the rescue informing me the temperature was pushing 40. FINALLY. So I jumped outside and tested the roads. Sure enough, the ice was gone.
And thus, the great run of New Years Day 2012 began.
The best part about this run was having the most awesome aid station available: Moms house. A kitchen full of food and a warm, clean bathroom. Oh and a closet full of my clothes, which would come in handy. The first 20 miles of the run were relatively uneventful. I thought I would be bored to tears on a solo run of this distance but I really enjoyed my time. I wasn’t racing so I hardly glanced at my pace. In fact, I even willed myself to do a run walk (5 minutes run/1 minute walk) as to not burn my legs out too soon. Because let’s be real, while I’m certainly in good shape, my legs were NOT up to marathon par, never mind in 40 mile ultra shape. Conservative was the name of the game.
I thoroughly enjoyed my run. I thought a lot about why I was running. The loved ones lost, the survivors, and the ones battling cancer right now. I ran very thankful for my health and my legs. I stopped and took pictures of some of the pretty New Hampshire sights, which ironically on this first day of 2012, were green and NOT covered in snow (believe me, I’m not complaining!)
|No snow in New Hampshire!|
|…but we do have ice!|
And then, as I mentioned above, around 22 miles, the pain started. I headed to the rail trails, hoping the softer dirt would be easier than the previous 22 miles of pavement, but to no avail.
This is when the rational part of my brain took over. The one who has been taught and understands the training principle of progression, yet chooses to ignore it. (Do as I say not as I do!) Clearly, this run today was a prime example of the principle of diminishing returns….there comes a point where more is not better. In fact more HURTS. It was getting cold and I was shivering despite my running. The sun was starting to go down and I knew my parents had an anniversary dinner they were planning on going to that night (remember, I was about 5 hours late on starting this run). So I called the outdoor portion of my run quits at 24.69 miles.
And the rest is
dread treadmill history. Alright, only 8 more miles, after a LONG break. It’s all I could slog out before deciding I’ve made my point, let’s not be stupid and injure myself. 33 New Years Miles.
Which brings me to the point of this blog post:
Step Four: Respect the Distance.
Yesterday I was torn between feeling darn proud of myself for running over a marathon distance on the first day of 2012, and feeling disappointed that I didn’t run the 40 mile goal I had set out to do. One thing I love about running is how humbling it is. I’ve decided you can fake a marathon (I’ve shown up unprepared more than once, again do as I say not as I do!) but nothing more than that. As my I willed myself to make it “just one more mile” a few times last night, I thought to myself that there is no way on earth I will attempt this 50 miler if I can’t keep solid, steady training up for the next 2 months. You can’t fake an ultra (or, at least these legs can’t)
I dream of the day that a slow, steady, zone 2 marathon is “easy”. I remember when a half marathon was hard and now I can rattle one off without second thought or any soreness the next day. I am in awe of my friends who have not only pulled off 100 mile runs, but pulled them off WELL. Like my friend UlTara who consistently comes out on top of her races, or another running mom Stephanie who set a course record for females AND males at the Peanut Island 24 hour run yesterday. It boggles my mind that the human body can run 100+ miles, when 25+ brings me to my knees.
One thing that utterly appeals to me about ultra running is how it’s a race against your willpower. I love road racing, don’t get me wrong. But no matter how many times I say I’m NOT going to be competitive, I am. I hated that Oprah ran her first marathon faster than I did (sorry Oprah). I am eluded by a Boston Qualifying time, and get mega jealous over those who pull off a BQ on their first try. I can’t stand showing up at a 5k if I can’t place overall or AG. It’s never about me, but about me beating someone else, or in a marathon being as good as or faster than someone else.
But with an ultra, I honestly just want to see if I can do it.
I have no idea what is a “good time” for a 50k, 50M, 100k, 100M, etc. I honestly don’t have the faintest idea….and frankly…I don’t care. All I want to know is that my body and my mind are capable of the distance. I think that would be the best prize of all.
And so, the journey continues… it’s time to train hard, my friends. Respect the distance. What’s the point in pushing your body if you aren’t going to give your body the best advantage right out of the gate? Lesson learned.
2012 is going to be amazing…
Because of some comments below, I feel I should explain further. When I posted the challenge I never imagined it would amount to more than 10-15 miles. I’ve been fundraising since August and have had a hard time getting donations, the economy sucks and people understandably can’t afford it. I was SHOCKED to see how many people donated when I posted this challenge. And so I said, what the heck, I’ll see what I can do. No, 40 miles was NEVER in my radar. As I said, I NEVER expected it. As for walking the rest, when your body says stop, you stop. I stopped. A DNF in my book is much smarter than an injury.
I am sorry if I disappointed anyone, as a commenter below expressed, or if anyone feels I “cheated” them out of donations. Disappointing or deceiving my readers was never my intention here, and as runners themselves (and family & friends of cancer survivors & victims, or survivors themselves) I *truly* hope that the majority can appreciate what I was trying to do, with the best of intentions, and are not disappointed that I didn’t hit a specific number. I honestly gave it my best, calling it quits when I knew it was what was best for my body. Thanks for your ongoing support & understanding. <3