After a lot of good runs last week, I had a brief conversation with a friend about an upcoming local half marathon. By brief, I mean it was along the lines of "I'm attempting 7 miles this Saturday. Oh, did you see the half marathon is coming up in a few weeks." To which she (also a runner who had just signed up for her first marathon) responded, "You could totally do it." I was all "I don't know..." and she said the longest she had run before her first half marathon was 8 miles.
Having had a few glasses of wine that night, I spent the rest of the evening pondering the possibilities. On the subway ride home I continued to think "Could I do it?" By the time I got home I decided I would sleep on it, and if I still felt like it was a strong possibility in the morning, I would go for it.
Come morning, I decided to sign up. Even if I can't run the whole thing, I will at least aim to run 10 and walk 3. I love where I live, I love how popular and unique this half marathon is, not to mention it pretty much begins down the block from me so I won't have to deal with the same annoying subway ride I had to go through for my last weekend race. Roll out of bed and go!
For my long run on Saturday, I began to feel nervous about the whole ordeal. What if I couldn't make it to 7 miles today? What if I realize I made a horrible mistake? 13.1 miles, am I crazy? Is 3 weeks enough?
So I tried for 7 miles. It was hard, but I made it. The beauty of running is it's all in your head. You have moments of "I can't do this I have to walk" and you just have to tell your brain to shut up and tell your feet to keep going. This tends to happen every few miles or so and you just have to keep reminding yourself it's ALL in your head. Unless you physically can't take another step, are in terrible pain, or you haven't properly built your body up for it, keep pushing.
At least that's what I am continuing to tell myself. I'll (knock on wood) talk more in depth of this when I've (knock on wood) crossed the finish line.
Back to the long run. And back to the "It's all in your head" thing. When that goal number gets stuck in your head, it begins to feel impossible. "Ugh, 3 miles? Am I normally this tired at 3 miles? How will I make it to 7 today? Better yet, on race day, how the heck am I supposed to do 10 more miles? Why did I decide to do this?" My mind worked like that off and on (FYI, there were also plenty of "La la la! I love running!" thoughts too) until I was between miles 6-7. And I thought "This isn't too bad!" So then I reached for my (shhhh) secret goal I had all along of 8 miles. And I did 8.3. And I could have gone further but I knew I shouldn't put any more stress on my body.
I felt amazing. I felt pround. I felt like I can handle a half. The best way to deal with runs is to take mini goals. Instead of thinking "Ugh, 5 miles on top of that will be a full half," I often think in terms of "Ok, I did 8. I could certainly do another 2, which I will try for next week. And after that, only 3 miles, which I could walk. Just get to ten. It's so close to 8." Focus on the small steps, and you get there.
At least I hope that'll be the case in less than 3 weeks.