Yes, I learned a lesson in perseverance from a cartoon movie character. Remember Dory, the little fishy with the "never say die" attitude?
I wanted a nice little 11 - 12 mile jog Sunday as I have exactly 2 weeks until my first 1/2 marathon and I really needed to up my speed and try to make those 13.1 miles in a timeframe that I've set for myself. Today was going to be a pretty good test run to that end. It was a little cooler out, but I run better when it's a little cooler, anyway, so no worries there. I ate right. I hydrated right. I drank my pre-workout drink. I dressed right. I had it made... for about 4 miles of that run. Then, when one thing went wrong, everything went wrong.
* I thought I had a rock in my shoe so I sat down to take my shoe off. No rock. Took my sock off and shook it out. No rock. It just looked like I had a crease in my skin that was getting a little irritated. Ok. Not happy that I had to stop because my HR was lowering by the second and I was starting to get a little cold.
* Started to get up and realized I was being watched by a very aggressive looking ... I don't know what... kind of a cross between a badger and a squirrel, I guess. A little concerned that it was going to think my legs were lunch. Out stared him and he took off down in the ditch.
* Realized my music had stopped playing somewhere in there, so pulled my phone (doubles as my MP3 player) out of my zipper pocket and got the music going again.
* While putting my phone back, I rip my fingernail off. I don't have fake nails, so this was a real one. Ouch.
* I get going again and realize my foot still isn't right, pull off to the side, and realize that my sunglasses (nice, expensive running/biking glasses) have lost a lens somewhere between the sit down and where I'm at now. I search and search to no avail. I don't even really need them for the sun so much, but I do need them to protect my eyes from the wind. The wind makes my eyes water and then I have to stop and pull out a kleenex.... So, yes, I wanted to find that lens. Nope.
* I've been so intent on my foot, phone, rodent, and now glasses lens, that I didn't see a man coming up to me. I look up and, crap, where'd he come from? It's not all that common to see people on this trail. Especially where he was. There's no place to park close. Normally, if I see anyone on this part of it, it's a biker. Not a walker. So, ... can we say creepy? Especially since I didn't see him coming at all. I didn't stick around to finish looking for the lens. I said a quick little "hi" and took off running. :-)
So, finally I continue on, a GOOD 15 minutes later. Heart rate is way down to about 80 bpm. My legs have cooled off and don't really want to run anymore (although the man on the trail behind me was decent motivation at that point). Plus, I'm fighting time here. The sun will be going down and it's going to be getting colder, not warmer. I make the decision to keep going. I really need the miles at this point because from here on out I need to taper OFF of my miles to recuperate for the real race, so this was probably going to be my last long run. Now, I do have a fail-safe. I live in the area and could call for a ride if necessary (but of course I don't want to do that).
As I'm running, I'm realizing that I'm actually shivering. I cooled off so much, and the temp dropped and the wind picked up, that now my legs are actually turning red from the bite of the wind (I had running pants on, but they ended at the knee so my lower legs were exposed). I have wristbands on for the sweat, so I pull them up around my hands a little closer (really wished I would have worn some gloves at this point) and put my cap on. I had brought my cap along to see what it was like to run in it (thinking I might want it if it's raining the day of the 1/2 marathon), but I had it hanging on my water belt after the wind had blown it off of my earlier. I put that on and secured it better. It really is true that you lose heat through your head. Putting it on helped.
I got to my 5 mile mark (where I turn around when I want to go 10 miles round trip) and decided to go another 1/2 mile to make it a full 11 miles round trip. I've never been so happy to have a packet of GU along as a treat at that point! If you've never tried it, you're missing something! I swear it's what kept me from calling for a ride during miles 6 & 7. It gave me a little energy and I didn't feel so cold.
I got to about mile 8 and my foot was REALLY hurting now. I sat down (at the same spot where I had seen my little friend on the way out) and pulled the shoe off again. It was a full blown blister. Ugh. And I have 4 more miles until I'm back into town.
At some point, plain old stubbornness takes over. And for me, it was right about there. I had to have a little talk with myself. I had to put this in perspective and realize that only about 5% of my body hurt - that foot. The rest was good. Maybe tired. Maybe a little tee'd off that I wasn't going to make it back into town with the timing that I had wanted. Maybe a little cold. But it was a matter of pride now. Everybody has something that gets in their way. This is just an analogy for an everyday situation. A situation where you can choose to either lay down and give up or conquer it. So, little miss 'think you want to run a 1/2 marathon, do you?', suck it up and let's do this thing.
Yup, that lasted for about another mile. Then I was thinking I should probably make that phone call. That was about the point where I thought of Dory. Just keep swimming. One fin in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. And from that point on, I had that song stuck in my head! But it didn't matter - I'd deal with the song - because I had a new perspective of the run. I had started out wanting to make sure I ran fast enough to test my timing. Yeah, that's not going to happen at this point. So, change the goal. For this 1/2 marathon I need endurance, too. Not just speed. So the fact that I'm going to finish this, no matter how long it takes, will teach my cells and my muscles endurance. My cells will actually learn to disperse out energy at such a rate that I can withstand the length of the race. So that's my new plan for the next few miles. Just ENDURE.
There's a point on my trail that I run, where I feel that when I get to that point, I'm almost home. In reality, it's about 1 1/2 miles from town. But in my head, if I make it to that point, I've made it. From there, I could almost crawl home and I'd make it. Well, tonight I LOVED getting to that spot! I had 1 1/2 miles left, and was hobbling on a nice sized blister at that point, but I was going to make it. The sun was going down. It was getting even colder. But I wasn't light headed. I wasn't hungry. I wasn't thirsty. And I still only had about 5% of my body that was hurting. So I kept going. One fin in front of the other. I walked a lot of that last mile, but I don't think I've ever been more proud of a mile. The sun was setting as I came up to my vehicle in the parking lot where I'd left it almost 3 hours before, but I hadn't given up.