One surprising thing I learned after my first marathon is that it's not the 26.2 miles that are the most significant. It's the xx.x training miles that make the experience so intense. Because of that, I was equally excited and nervous to start the whole process again.
Unfortunately, the process wasn't going so well. I felt like I had lost my running mojo. Nothing majorly wrong. Things just didn't feel right.
Then we left for vacation with my whole family. I envisioned a week of amazing running. The first morning my sister and I got up early and headed out on a dirt road. About 100 meters from our door we saw a big pile of poop. Steaming bear poop. Ummmmm, should we turn around? It is obviously close by. Naw, we're fine. Black bears are much more scared of us than we are of them. It'll hear us and stay away from the road. We ran on a bit and then...
yep. You guessed it. We saw the bear. It was in the woods, but very close to the road and it was HUGE. As we backed away, I looked around for a cub. We walked backwards for a ways and then high tailed it back to the cabin.
And there went all the early morning running plans. The next day we loosely planned a long run. DH and I had 9 and my sister had 10. We would run to the state park and the rest of teh family would drive and meet us there. My SIL who had been there before was at a yoga class so we didn't get real clear directions before heading out. You can see where this story is going too.
Let's just say that we ran on a very hot day on a very long, straight paved road. No shade, not much to look at, no cell service. I was not happy. I had to run a bit in front of them just because I needed to be alone. I am not fun to be with when I'm having a hard run.
We saw a hand painted sign: State Park 2 miles. 30 minutes later we still weren't there. And then when we got there were forks in the road and who knew where we were supposed to meet them?! A few more miles of zig zagging, searching parking lots for familiar minivans, and many swear words later, one of the vans found us. I guess we ran 11 ish miles that day.
It was not the running vacation of my dreams, but I did swim. And swim and swim and swim. We were on the South Shore of Lake Superior. I am used to the North Shore where it's not warm enough to swim. This felt like and looked like the ocean. It was gorgeous. I swam so much that I ended up in Urgent Care with swimmer's ear when we got home. Don't only 7 year olds get that?? I had to stay out of the pool for a week.
Back to running. We're home. My in-laws are in town and will babysit the kids. We have 14 miles on the plan. I'm excited. I need a good run and we're going to new trails. This is gonna be awesome. Well... we drop off the kids. And the rain starts to pick up. We're standing under an awning debating the sanity of heading out on a run in a downpour. DH says, "When else will we have time to get a long run in this week?" And with that we were off. And it was actually fun.
The trail was super cool. And once you're wet, the rain doesn't bother you anymore. The river was on our left and huge rocks/cliffs were on our right. There were even a few little waterfalls thanks to the pouring rain. We were the only people on the trail. It was peaceful and fun.
We ran up this road to make the turn around. Then headed back to the trail.
And then the rain stopped. You'd think that would be a good thing. But when the sun comes out, so does the mugginess and the bugs and my crabby attitude. Everything fell apart. My socks and shoes were soaked. While it was raining, I didn't notice. Now with every step I could feel the blisters forming. And we didn't make it 14 miles. Only had time for 13 thanks to my walking breaks.
This all took a mental toll on me. I started to doubt my ability to run a marathon. And I know that's crazy because I have already done it. But the mental challenges of running can be tougher than the physical ones.
All week I was nervous for my long run. Dreading it actually. Made pretty elaborate plans with family and friends because I knew I needed support. And for whatever reason, I woke up yesterday and decided that it was going to be a good run.
And it was. DH ran 10 alone. I got the kids up and had them in the jogger with "breakfast to go" and we ran 5 all together. Then I did a 6 mile loop alone. Back to my house to meet my SIL and we ran another 5 mile loop together. I can't believe how quickly it went by. And how good I felt the whole time. For 16 miles!
Oh boy did I need that. I can run a marathon. I will shut out the doubting thoughts. Training makes me stronger.