“If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.”
Song Mood: “The Man” – The Killers
That is what the weather report said when I woke up Sunday morning for the mother of all the long runs: the 20-miler. I had been pretty lucky this August – the weather has stayed pretty cool for the most part, especially in the morning. The weekends have not been too humid, compared to other summers I can recall. When I saw how nasty it was going to be the weekend of September 16-17th, I couldn’t help but feel it was a bit unfair. This was a big weekend, why couldn’t the weather cooperate!
Because the weather had obeyed for the most part on previous long run days, our start time had been around 7 AM. This served a double purpose of “getting it over with” so we could have some weekend left to enjoy. After feeling how oppressive and miserable the weather was on Saturday at our annual club sponsored race, the time discussed with my training partner kept getting earlier…6:30…6:00. Yup, time to suck it up.
The sun was not up yet as I drove to our meeting spot. I was pleasantly surprised by how cool the air felt, even though it seemed to surround me like a damp rag. Okay so the conditions were not optimal, but I was determined to get this done and do better than my 18-miler. I had taken a yoga class the night before to keep everything limber but also get into a better frame of mind. I was stressed with the knowledge that I will be starting a new job in a few weeks, but I wanted to leave that where I stood. This run was going to tell me if I can actually finish this marathon strongly instead of falling apart in a weeping mess.
We had a third training buddy who stayed with us for about 9 miles, but then knee problems caused him to fall a little behind us. I was determined to stay with my running partner this time and not hold anyone back. The humidity caused my clothes to hang heavy on my body, my hydration pack felt like a lead weight and I felt like I could drown from breathing in the air, but I pushed through. And when my watch beeped at the 20 mile mark, I realized I had made it. The most I’ve ever run.
The amazing part was I felt okay. My lungs felt like I could keep going, even though my legs and feet were telling me a different story. My glutes had been screaming at me towards the end, making it hard to get any last-minute speed. I was about 10 minutes off from what my training plan wanted me to run, but I didn’t feel as worn out as when I did the 18 miles. Sitting at the bagel place afterwards with all the other long distance runners, I felt tired but not completely dead. I would go on to crash hard later that afternoon, but in that moment I felt like I still had something in the tank to finish out the day. Maybe this marathon training thing isn’t so bad? I may regret this statement later.
When I got home, all I wanted to do was take a nice long shower. Unfortunately I didn’t have any hot water. I really needed to get clean, so I attempted to wash up splashing ice cold water on my body. I’m not sure if it was the shock of the cold water or just after-effects of not having enough calories in me, but I fell over in the shower. When I got myself out, I wasn’t feeling well. My chest felt tight and I was extremely dizzy. I frantically texted my boyfriend to see if he could help me since I was having trouble figuring out how to let my landlord know about the water. I started feeling a bit emotional, so I laid down on the couch and must have fallen asleep because I was woken up by my boyfriend rushing into my apartment to see if I was okay. Oops. Maybe I had over-reacted with my texts. I swear I am not usually that dramatic. He helped me get something to eat – which I think was really all I needed. I must remember to avoid a sugar crash like this and to eat a proper lunch even if I don’t feel that hungry.
Well anyways, it’s done. It’s time now to taper and keep praying for no injuries. Every time I step off a sidewalk, I hold my breath. I’m constantly looking at the ground for loose objects I could possibly trip over. Before I know it, the day will be here. I think the nerves are just starting.