Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A half marathon -- what am I thinking?

So it’s less than two weeks away from my first half marathon. I’ve been faithfully following my training plan since September (minus the three weeks in December when my knee was on the mend). Before yesterday I had two 9-mile runs under my belt – the most I’d ever run. I’ve felt strong and confident in my running. Even enjoying it. A lot.

And then in a day, my focus and self-assurance seemed to melt away as quickly as the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz after the Scarecrow doused her with water.

The downhill spiral actually started Saturday afternoon on our way home from Blake’s soccer tournament in Gilbert. About 10 miles out of Gilbert (and another 50 minutest to home) Zach starts crying for water. “I need water … I need ice.” I hand him a bottled water, he takes a swig, and he continues to scream for ice. “I feel sick.” And that look. Uh-oh. Too late.

After pulling over and cleaning things up the best we could with baby wipes and extra sweatshirts, we continued home with the windows open. By the time we got home my stomach was feeling a little queasy – not sure if it was real or imagined.

Brett’s parents were in town visiting and Brett took Monday off. We had been planning on running 10-11 miles on Monday. It’s rare that we get to run together. But ever since I decided I wanted to do a half marathon, he pledged his support by following my training program so he could be right there alongside me. With his work schedule and the kids, we never get to run together.

I’m a creature of habit and I really wanted to run a longer variation of one of my longer routes. But Brett thought he was being helpful by coming up with a route on this cool running web site we found. I looked at the route and saw it had us going up a street that I don’t like – not once but twice. I don’t say anything.

We start and because we rarely run together, I find it hard to get a good pace. I can tell he’d prefer to go a little faster, but I know myself and know I have to start slow the first couple miles. All I can think about is whether to go a little faster.

We both run with our Ipods, but he wants to talk – we need to get an exterminator out, curiosity about Barack Obama’s religion, the horrible officiating in Blake’s game.

I’m getting frustrated. I know we don’t have much alone time, but over the past months running has become the time that I don’t have to think about these things. For an hour or however long I’m running, I can wipe these things from my mind. It’s almost a spiritual experience for me.

As we’re heading up the street I didn’t want to run, my stomach is feeling queasy. I’m getting frustrated and lash out at poor Brett for taking me on this route. For some reason this run, although only 5 miles into it, is so much harder than it usually is. My legs feel heavy, jabs of pain strike the bottom of my right heel every time I touch the asphalt. Despite carbing up with lots of pasta the past couple days, I feel depleted of energy. This run is burdensome, taxing and annoying. I can’t focus. I seriously consider just returning home, cutting the run short.

But I finally get a grip and tell Brett I’m ready to continue on. He’s being so patient with me, ready to keep running or return home, whichever I need to do.

So we continue on, but revise our route. I’m feeling just awful, trying to muster up every fiber of strength I have. I have to stop and walk a couple times, which I hate and somehow equate with a sign of weakness.

I’m getting really worried about the half marathon. How in the world am I going to do 13 miles? I’ve become so fixated on being able to run the whole thing. For some reason I feel like I will have failed if I have to walk part of it.

I get teary, telling this to Brett. He looks at me like I’m crazy.

He says, “It doesn’t matter if we have to walk part of it. This is your first one. Look how far you’ve come. We’re going to do this. Together.”


We continued on and made it. 10 miles in 2 hours. A 12-minute-mile. A far cry from my 10-minute-mile goal.

We trudged inside the house. I was so glad Brett was off work and his parents were there … I was able to go lay down for a couple hours. All I could think about is how I’m going to build up my confidence.

After the run I was so exhausted, still feeling queasy. Had no appetite whatsoever. I managed to choke down a handful of almonds and later Brett got me a smoothie, watched the kids and made dinner. Loved me.

Reminded me of what matters most.

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