Overcoming My Demons: 18 Miler

Today was extremely hard.  My ego and body are still recovering from the events of this morning.  Let me start from the beginning…

I woke up this morning absolutely exhausted.  I tossed and turned all night.  I think that I have anxiety about long runs for some reason.  I only thought about it once or twice, but I just couldn’t go to sleep.  I lied in my bed for 3 hours before I turned on my light and decided to read.  I was frustrated that I couldn’t get to sleep and read my book for another hour until I managed to drift off asleep.  That is until I woke up and hour before I was supposed to get up and just lied there again for an hour.  I watched my alarm go off, and I hobbled downstairs to the kitchen.  My legs are still sore from weight lifting two days AGO!

I decided to fuel my 18 miles with a bowl of oatmeal with 2 egg whites, a banana, and some peanut butter.  I sipped on some green tea in the hopes that it would wake me up and make me more peppy to hang out with people for the run.  It didn’t.  I sang in the car on the way to meet with a couple friends, and I felt more awake at that point.  I kept thinking to myself, this is going to be a good run.  This is going to be a good run. Little did I know what I was getting myself into…

Miles 1-4:  My legs were so stiff here.  I can’t believe it took almost 5 miles for them to warm up!  Renee and I chatted while Katie ran ahead of us.  Katie is a lot faster than both of us, and it was great to at least see her for a little bit of the run!  My breathing was labored even though we were running at a 9:30 pace.  It was a this point that I realized that I forgot to take a couple puffs of my inhaler.  I keep forgetting!  Dang it! (I don’t have asthma, but I’m still wheezing a little from my pneumonia.)

Miles 5-7: I finally found my rhythm on the trails.  Renee ran right in front of me, and I just focused on her calves guiding me over the uneven sheets of ice.  One foot in front of the other.  Practically dancing.  If the rest of the run feels like this, I am golden!

Miles 8-9: My right foot decided to go numb.  It wasn’t from the cold.  I think it just went to sleep.  I wiggled my toes vigorously to try to get the blood moving.  It didn’t work.  Oh well.  I don’t need toes, do I? Keep running, keep running!

Miles 10-12: The ice was bad here.  I tried to find my rhythm again, but it was very sporadic as I was jumping over large pieces of ice.  Our pace slowed considerably because of it.  I was still taking in my nutrition, and felt a little tired, but I just kept telling myself that we only had less than an hour left.  I could do an hour.  My breathing was still more labored than usual, but no problem.  Katie stopped running here at 12 miles, and our friend, Leah, met up with us on the run.  Only 6 more miles.

Mile 13: Renee and Leah moved in front of me.  I looked down at my Garmin, and I was running a 9:30-9:45 pace.  They were running much faster than this.  They slowly started to pull away, and I let them do their thing.  My body couldn’t move any faster even if I wanted it to.  How am I supposed to run an 8:45 pace for Paris if I can’t even maintain a 9:30?  What is wrong with me?  Don’t think about that.  Just run! The ice that we had encountered at the very beginning of our run was starting to melt and the path turned into mud.

Miles 14-15: I could see the girls up in the distance talking.  I was alone.  This was fine with me because I never want to be the one to slow anyone down.  I looked down at my watch, and I was running a 10 min/mile pace.  Sad.  I tried to pick it up, but I couldn’t.  I said, “Come ON!” out loud.  I was alone anyway so nobody could hear me talking to myself.  I started grunting like the creepy men in the weight room that I was talking about earlier this week.  This is when my demons came out. You are never going to finish this.  What were you thinking training for a marathon?  You are too slow.  You can’t do this.  Look how far up they are compared to you.  You are never going to catch them.  They are probably talking about how slow you are. Then, Break the Chain by Fleetwood Mac came on my ipod.  I got angry.  I was ANGRY that I was so slow.  I was ANGRY that I got pneumonia and had to miss 2 weeks of training.  I was ANGRY that my feet hurt.  I was ANGRY that my legs were aching and were not listening to my commands.  I was just ANGRY.  Tears started streaming down my cheeks.  I looked down at my garmin one last time and realized that I was sprinting and crying at the same time.  SHUT THE F*&K UP!!!!!!!!!!  I CAN do this!

Mile 16: I turned around with the girls and almost started crying again, but they said it wasn’t allowed.  They are great supportive friends.  I’m so glad that I have them in my life.  I commented on how much my feet hurt, and Leah said not to think about that.  My feet feel great!  My big toes don’t feel like they are going to fall off at all! Yes, I was trying reverse psychology on myself.  It didn’t work, but at least I didn’t feel hopeless anymore.

Mile 17: Still in the mud.  I started pulling on all the things that I tell my students in spin class.  Accept the suck!  Accept the pain, and move on!  Once you accept that it is going to hurt, just work through it!  Don’t fight it.  Use it.  Hammer this out, Nicole!  You can do this!  Your mind will give out before your body does. None of them worked, but at least it kept my mind off of how bad my feet were hurting.  I have no idea how fast I was going.  I was sick of looking at my garmin, it mocking me with it’s slow times!

Mile 18: This was all uphill.  Renee likes to sprint the last mile, and usually I do too, but I just let her go.  Leah stayed behind to cheer me on.  I’m guessing I did not look well.  I started trying to talk to her.  “So.  Gasp. How.  Gasp.  Are.  Gasp.  You?”  She retorted, “Stop talking!  Conserve your energy!”  Okay.  Good thinking.  Almost there.  Almost there.  I just want to walk.  It would feel so good to walk for just a little while.  You are not walking!  Focus!  One, two.  One, two. Your mind will give out before your body does…

We finally made it, and I started crying again.  The girls gave me a huge hug, and Renee started laughing at me.  I started laughing at myself.  I have no idea why I was so emotional today.  I’m not on my period (sorry for the honesty, but we all know that could have been a factor :) ).  All I know is that I struggled a lot today.  I read a quote once that said that (paraphrased since I can’t remember exactly) it’s not your good training days that define you as an athlete.  It is the days where you have to struggle to overcome those demons that define you.  I believe it now or at least I hope that is the case (if it isn’t, I’m screwed!).  I fought with myself today, and the positive side won out…barely.  I hope I remember that when it comes to race day.  When I hit my wall at whatever mile, I’m going to think back to today and how much I wanted to give up, and know for sure that I am strong enough to work through the pain and finish what I started.

The Aftermath:

Mud!  The only day I don’t wear my trail shoes, this happens!DSC06017

Compression sleeves to the rescue!  I swear, I have shorts on.  I just have abnormally long legs for how short I am!

Have you ever worked your way through something you didn’t think you were going to finish?  Happy Running!

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