Tuesday, April 24, 2012
This past Saturday was a milestone in my training. I ran 20 miles! It started out really well. The weather was perfect – 50 degrees, overcast. I was feeling good about the run, and my knee wasn’t bothering me as much as before. I tried different shoes this time after my last 18 gave me huge blisters, and they were comfortable, though not as supportive as I wanted.
I ran basically the same route as my 18. It took me through town and out to a farm stand 10 miles away where I turned around and ran home. I kept switching between the road and the Rail Trail because there were a lot of cars, but my legs didn’t notice the change in the terrain as much as they usually do. It was a pretty good run.
I couldn’t think about the distance while I was running. Whenever I did, I would start to think about how much longer I had to go and reasons why I should stop, call Andy, and just go home. Hitting the 20-mile mark was what got me through. I wanted to hit that milestone. I knew that if I could do 20, unless I break my leg, I will complete a marathon on May 27th.
A few posts back I mentioned that my trainer wanted me to hit the wall during my training so I would be prepared in case it happens during the race. I thought I was close at the end of my last 18, but I didn’t get there. So, this time I decided to not take the GU that I usually take for the last 3-4 miles and to see what happened.
I hit the wall – HARD.
I had no idea what it would feel like. No one ever described the feeling. They always just got a certain look and tone of voice when they asked if I had hit the wall yet. Even my trainer couldn’t describe it, and she is usually not lost for words.
I can’t describe it, either. I definitely knew when it happened. It’s strange to feel your body completely run out of fuel. I felt like I couldn’t lift my feet, and though I was moving, I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. My run turned into a hobbling kind of shuffle, which in my glucose-deprived state I started calling the Hobbit Shuffle. I felt like a hobbit. My feet felt gigantic. It took all of my effort to move them. I hit the wall about 1.5 miles from my house, and I figured out later that it took me an hour to finish it. It was a completely strange and extremely frustrating experience, but I survived. I hope it doesn’t happen during the actual race (or in any more training runs), but at least I know I can push through it if it does.
I can’t wait to try 20 again this weekend. I’m going to properly fuel myself this time and hopefully cut a lot of time off my last run. I keep thinking about how much easier the actual race will be. There will be water, Gatorade, food, and toilets all along the route. No worrying about dehydration, hitting the wall, or finding some bushes or trees. I’m getting really excited about it. Now that I know I can do it, I am feeling a lot more “bring it on” as opposed to terrified.
Last year, I would have laughed at the idea of me running a marathon. Now, it’s becoming more and more realistic. I can actually see myself finishing. It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago I couldn’t run for a minute. I could barely walk a quarter of a mile. I run past a place on the Rail Trail where we used to walk when we were overweight and unhealthy, and I think about how different everything is now. It was so hard to walk to that bench. Now I stop there to stretch after my first 3 miles. I can run for hours. My entire life is different now, and I don’t ever want to go back.
I’ve been pretty stressed out about running this marathon. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’ve worried about so many stupid things. I beat myself up over the smallest things. But, taking a step back and looking at how far I’ve come has really made me appreciate where I am. I’ve worked hard to get here, and I deserve to finish this. I don’t know if I have ever committed to something so consuming and stressful for so long, but I am pretty proud of myself for getting this far. It’s close now, and I am excited to get there.