Tag Archives: marathon

”Calm” Before the Storm

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore” ~Andre Gide

One day until I walk up to the start line of my very first marathon EVER.

ONE day.

Seems like just yesterday that it was sixteen weeks away…

So much has changed in my life over the course of the last sixteen weeks. I have changed so much over the last sixteen weeks. I know there’s some sort of crazy life growth lesson in here that has happened in this process that I should totally be referencing right now but I can’t see it because I’m way too focused on panic and imminent doom. (Thinking about panic and imminent doom totally makes me laugh but kind of a crazy person heckle kind of laugh.) Besides, I am pretty sure that I will have more than enough time to think about all the important life lessons when I am cruising along on Sunday.

There is so much information flowing in and out of my brain at the moment that it is hard for me to focus on anything let alone what I have learned in this process or even thinking about what my actual race plan is… I am lucky to have wonderful friends willing to help me come up with a plan and a wonderful coach that basically made it simple and just said DO THIS and gave me my plan. My head is definitely not in a place where it can handle wiggle room… I need to live in absolutes right now. I need other people to make decisions for me so that I don’t have to think.

I have experienced this sensation multiple times before big events but it doesn’t seem to really get easier over time and I certainly haven’t gotten used to the uneasy feeling that is currently living in the pit of my stomach.

I am a big believer in the power of visualization so I have been trying to visualize my race as much as my super ADHD brain will allow me to. Focusing on visualizing this race reminds me of when I did Assault on Mt. Mitchell and how heavily I relied on visualization when I started to feel like I could no longer keep going. I am reminded of a mantra that I used during that century ride, “breathe in confidence, breathe out doubt.” I can already tell that I will be using the hell out of that mantra during my marathon.

I know that I have put in the training to be physically ready for this race but now I have to actively work to drown out those pesky self-doubt thoughts that always love to creep into my head. Now the marathon becomes a mental race instead of a physical one.  It helps that I have so many people in my life that are constantly reminding me that I am ready and that I am going to do great. I. Just. Have. To. Keep. Reminding. Myself.

Physical plan: Finish in 4:15:00 at a 9:40 min/mi pace
Mental plan: Breathe in confidence, breathe out doubt. One foot in front of the other. Just keep moving. Soak in the experience. And, most importantly, HAVE FUN!

See you on the flip side blog world! Hopefully with a whole lot more insightful stuff to say…

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

shoes

Shattered

“Life didn’t promise to be wonderful.” ~Teddy Pendergrass

I have melted into my bed
My sadness has taken control
My soul feels exposed
My insides feel shattered
My energy is non-existent
I am a shell
Shattered and broken
My goals seem a million miles away and utterly insurmountable
Betrayal has robbed me of my light
Indiscretion has crushed my spirit
My drive is gone
My motivation is a long lost friend
Friends try to convince me to eat, to get up, to move….
I can’t.
All I can muster is tears and anger
So many questions
So much confusion
I don’t understand but I also know what has been placed before me is not understandable
I do not remember what it was like to feel whole
I do not know how to move forward
I do not know how to put the pieces back together
I do not know how to find my inner Wonder Woman
I dug deep for marathon training and yet now, no matter how deep I dig, I can’t find a thing
I don’t know what to do or how to do it or how to get myself upright again
I don’t know if I can or if I will
I can only hope that if I do, it will be in time…

Marathon Training: Uncertainty and Disarray Live Here

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” ~Frank A. Clark

I truly believe that I had created a perfect bubble in my life with all my cycling and a “small” sprinkling of running and swimming… Cycling kept me sane enough to both live my life and continue to incorporate the smattering of training in the other two sports.

Approximately 10+ weeks ago I dropped a bomb in my life and upended everything that I knew to be right and good… Marathon training.
 
DISARRAY ENTERS.

I no longer know which way is up and which way is down, all I know is that I have to run to get there.

Running has quite literally TAKEN OVER my life. Everything I do (even my damn vacation) has to be planned around how many miles I have to run on what day.

Monday is a rest day.
Tuesday is a track workout day.
Wednesday is a normal run day.
Thursdays is either a hills training day or a group run day. (They alternate)
Friday is a rest day.
Saturday is hell day (aka LONG slow run day).
Sunday is a normal run day.
REPEAT. EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.

Nowhere in that schedule is there a mention of a cycling day. Not even a horrid swim day for that matter. Hell, there’s not even the mention of a “you’re a mom and you have to take care of kids in here somewhere” day. Not to mention a “you have to adult and work a job to pay for all these asinine races you keep registering for” day.

Why. Do. I. Do. This.

I have destroyed my comfort zone with the decision to train for a marathon. I have erased the one activity that keeps me grounded from my once “normal” schedule. Sure, I could try and ride on my rest days or do it in addition to running on other days (if there were 70 hours in a day) but running makes me tired. Spending hours upon hours on my feet makes me want to fall asleep on my desk at work, in the shower, driving, living life… My feet hurt all the time; they are basically two big blisters littered with lots of smaller blisters (as I finished writing that sentence I paused writing to pop a ginormous blister that had formed UNDER my big toenail). My hips? We won’t even talk about how much those hurt… Let’s just say that ‘my hips don’t lie,’ the pain has become a normal part of everyday living now, and I have perfected the slanted walk. Marathon training is extremely physically taxing on the human body but the toll it takes on the mind is even bigger…

I did this to myself.
 
I need to ride. I need the open road. I need to feel the headwind push against me. I need to struggle against the climb of the hills. I need to feel the whoosh of the passing cars. I need to experience the complicatingly uncomplicated. I need Princesa. I need to think. I need to clear my mind. I need to find my balance. I need to be.

I did this to myself.

They say that only 1% of the world’s population has ever finished a marathon… I am starting to think that it’s because the other 99% are actually smart/sane/rational/normal/insert other synonyms here.

I did this to myself.

I run and most days I am not sure why I am doing it even though I know the deep, underlying reason for the “why am I doing it” question. I want to be an Ironman. But I would be flat out lying if I said that doubt doesn’t enter my mind all the damn time, every damn run actually.

UNCERTAINTY ENTERS.

Doubt truly is one hell of a thing… It can drive even the most determined person to the ground. And doubt has been doing one hell of a number on me lately. The disarray that marathon training has caused in my life and the further my training keeps me away from cycling, the more the uncertainty grows inside my mind. I question everything about my ability to meet the goals I have set for myself. “Just finishing” is NOT enough for me, I want to beat Oprah. Oprah finished a marathon in 4:29:15 at a 10:16/mile pace. (Whoever thought SHE would be the mark that so many people aim for when stepping up to the start line??) Every time that I go out on a long run, I question my life decisions including, but not limited to, my decision to do this stupid marathon in the first place, whether I have what it takes to “just” finish, and whether I will be able to hit the mark that I have set for myself. Every time I fall into this uncertainty line of thinking, I have the same answer for myself… I just don’t know. It doesn’t matter how many people tell me I can, how much they remind me of previous obstacles I have overcome in my athletic endeavors, or how much other logic they try to dump on me because I keep going back to “I just don’t know.”

There is such a mental piece that goes with endurance sports that, as soon as that starts to wax and wane, everything else seems to so easily crumble down too. No matter how much I may know that I CAN do it, the exhaustion coupled with the lack of life balance strips my mental game and opens the door for uncertainty to strut right in. So many hours are spent out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but time to think and think and think some more… Thinking about life, about pain, about relationships, about wants, about needs, about desires, about past failures, about past successes, about the future, about anything and everything in between. Too much thinking. Entirely. Too. Much.

So many times I have wanted to quit, to give up, to stop running, to sit down, to not do this marathon, to change my name, to change my phone number, to disappear from all my bad ass athlete friends, to sit on a couch and eat ice cream for the rest of my life and never workout again…

I did this to myself.

And yet, I KEEP GOING, despite AND IN SPITE of the pain, the exhaustion, the disarray, and the uncertainty.

As much as I want to stop/quit/give up, I don’t know how to. The train has left the station and, for whatever godforsaken reason, it can’t be stopped. I keep going… one damn foot in front of the other, one run after the other, one minute after the next. I need my mental game back and that is so very hard for me to achieve without my best coping skill at my disposal, cycling. As much as I want to be on my bike, I can’t so I roll with the punches life is continuing to throw. I have to learn how to bob and weave in a new fashion…

Marathon training is forcing me to dig deeper than I have ever had to dig before to find my strength, to find my sense of determination. It is forcing me to grow and change. It is forcing me to leave my comfort zone. It is forcing me to put down the previous idea I had of myself and create a new self-image; a new stronger, more relentless me.

Some days the doubt becomes overwhelming and brings me to the brink of breaking. But I haven’t broken yet. I won’t break. I can’t break. I don’t know how to break.

I am ten weeks into my training with six more to go. I keep reminding myself, “I have survived this whole time, I can certainly survive the rest.” I have pushed my body to the brink before and I can do it again. My body will keep going as long as I keep pushing it.

Why do I do this to myself? Because this is me. Because this is who I am. Because I am not a quitter. I will not stop running, swimming, cycling. I will not sit down. I will not disappear on to a couch with a tub of ice cream (well, maybe I will for a little while because ice cream is yum). I will keep pushing. I will keep challenging myself. I will keep aiming for bigger and better goals. I will keep working to be just as big a badass as all the badasses I have surrounded myself with. I will keep moving. I will keep being. I will keep rolling with the punches. I will keep digging deep. I will keep finding that extra reserve of confidence no matter where it is hidden. I will keep changing. I will keep adapting.

I do this to myself because I can.

“Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.” ~Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

Pain: Embracing the Suck

“To keep from decaying, to be a winner, the athlete must accept pain–not only accept it, but look for it, live with it, learn not to fear it.” -Dr. George Sheehan

While I was out riding one day, I began to think about the phenomena that is “pain.”

I spend a lot of time throughout my days thinking about all the aches and pains that are ringing through my various body parts. Pain is such a strange thing because we seemingly chase a pain-free life while simultaneously chasing the “right” pain at the same time.

Pain lets us know we are alive.

In endurance training, I often find myself craving soreness to let me know that I am doing the right thing, that I am pushing myself to the brink where the pain I feel is right on the edge of being “good pain” versus “bad pain.” It is such a delicate balance…

As much as I am dreading marathon training (yes, I said marathon training. SURPRISE! I recently registered for the Miami Marathon on January 29, 2017), I am secretly welcoming the rebirth of the soreness and outright pain that will come with the experience.

Don’t get me wrong, the soreness and pain WILL suck and I WILL whine, but I strangely want it back in my life.

“For something to hurt that bad, and feel so good, it’s just inexplicable.” – Adam Goucher, NCAA Cross Country Division 1 Individual Champ – 1998

Recently I created a “bucket list” of endurance events that I would like to do before I die and it seems like the things I keep adding are getting crazier and crazier. Endurance athletes often use terms like “embrace the suck” or “enter the pain cave” when talking about training for or participating in endurance events. It is clear that in order to do the things on my list, I have to find a place, mentally, where I learn to love how much my body hurts and allow my mind to take control over my physical being to keep pushing even when all I want to do is lay down somewhere and rest.  I am not 100% sure why I put myself through these kinds of things, but maybe it is simply to be able to say that I can do them (or maybe I really have lost my mind in my old age).

There is no rest for the weary; I will rest when I am dead.

When I started running at the late age of 32, I never would’ve dreamed of even considering running a marathon yet, here I am coming off of week 2 of my 16 week training plan. I crave the pain of training as the reminder of how much potential I have to achieve all of my biggest and boldest dreams…

Marathon training stands to be the BIGGEST SUCK I will have embraced thus far but I am ready for the challenge. I am ready to push myself to the brink, both mentally and physically, to feel that feeling of coming across that finish line. The feeling of knowing that I am walking up to a start line which most won’t ever dream of approaching. The feeling of crossing that finish line knowing that I am one step closer to my goal of becoming an Ironman…

I willingly welcome back the exhaustion, the aches, the soreness, the burn, the pure all out pain. I welcome back the days when I can barely walk yet I get up and do it anyways. I welcome back the days where it feels like even my fingernails hurt. I welcome it all back because welcoming it all back means that I have a destination that I am moving towards. I have a new goal to aim for with its very own set of challenges and obstacles. I welcome the opportunity to rise above it all in order to achieve something bigger and better than I ever thought possible.