Monday, June 8, 2009

Good Advice

Another long run down.... 18 miles yesterday. It was pretty great, really. Not easy, but not impossible. Of course there were some aches and pains along the way, but nothing serious. Luckily my stomach issues have cleared up; my stomach still wasn't HAPPY about running, but it didn't revolt, either. Oh, and my second toes on both feet are less than thrilled-- one is especially bruised/blistered, and I'll likely lose that nail. And for a while I had a sore/tight spot in between my shoulder blades, but I did some stretching and consciously tried to relax my upper body, and that seemed to work.

I hooked up with a couple of gals that I haven't run with before, and talked with them from miles 4-ish to 10-ish. We were all going at a pretty similar pace, so it was nice to have some company. For the last several miles we weren't really into talking, but still stayed pretty close together for the rest of the run.

The last few miles took some mental strength. I gave myself rewards-- walk breaks every mile or so. And I found energy in my music (a special thanks to Cathy for sending me some new running tunes!!!). I noticed that my moods and energy levels really changed quickly-- I'd find some gumption when a new song would come on, but after a few minutes, I'd be tired again. But then a new song would come on, and I'd get a little perk again.

So, it was a successful run. I learned a little more about what it takes to just keep on going. I got another huge confidence boost knowing that I can go that far. But I was very ready to be done when I got back to the start point. The following 20 minutes of cool-down were actually more painful than the running. And actually for the next several hours my body was basically in shock-- it didn't want to eat, didn't want to stretch, or walk around, or sit in a tub of cold water (though I did all of those things).

So I can kind of imagine, but can't fully grasp, what the full marathon is going to feel like. I don't know if I can imagine going another 8.2 miles! I mean, that's about an hour and a half more. Where is that energy going to come from?!? What kinds of sensations/emotions is that going to evoke?

I called Robyn, who's been my best friend since we were 12, and who's run several marathons and 1/2 Ironman triathlons, and who's been my inspiration and source of wisdom/experience, and left a message to the effect of my ponderings above. Here's her email response:

Congrats on making it through your 18 mile run!! That's HUGE. Here's what I thought when I heard you say "I'm not really sure how in the world I will be able to run another 8.2 miles":

1. I suspect that you will get through the first 10 miles of the race purely on adrenaline. You'll be so excited and ready that it will take you that long to really settle in. That's a quick 10 miles down before you know it.

2. Yes, this is going to be hard. You knew that when you signed up. In fact, that's part of the reason you signed up. You wanted to experience the hard. The last 6 miles will be particularly difficult. Find a way to be o.k. with that NOW.

3. I encourage you to invite the pain in. The pain you will feel will be your signal that THIS is what you signed up for, THIS is why you're doing this, THIS is why so many other people do not do this, THIS is why crossing that finish line will feel so, so, so good. The pain tells you that NOW you are running a marathon. Get clear on your reasons. They are what will get you through the pain.

4. Walk breaks are your friend in your first marathon. Think relentless forward motion. Consider walking before you NEED to so that you will WANT to run longer in the latter part of the race. Focus on your goal: Crossing that finish line. Period. Walk breaks take nothing away from that goal.

5. When you find yourself getting cranky (and there's a very high chance that you will be cranky at some point.) , remember what you can control: Do you need to eat? Do you need to drink? Do you need to walk? Do you need to refocus your form? Do you need to go external and focus on the crowd, etc? Do you need to go internal and focus on a mantra? These are all things within your control that will keep you moving forward.

I have no doubt that you can do this. It will be one of the hardest, but one of the simplest things you will ever do: Just keep moving.


Thanks for the advice! You're right-- I want to know what hard is. I want to explore just how strong I can be. This will be a great opportunity to do that.

I'll be writing out my invitions to the race here soon, and will make sure to extend a special one to PAIN. :)

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