Waiting For The Wall

Happy Monday!  Excuse my lack of presence. We were away for the past week on a family vacation in somewhat sunny Florida.  The weather was chilly most of the week.  However, yesterday when the time sprung forward one hour, all the kiddos who we were sharing a room with, decided to finally sleep in their own beds through the night.  It felt so good, I stayed in bed until the littlest one finally decided to get up.

Rock took Mary in the jogging stroller for an 8 mile ride to grab donuts (I love the way he thinks) and I met them there with the car to trade off.  As I started my run, it was almost 11:00am and the sun was beating pretty hard. It was only 73º, which would be a pleasant run in the summer.  But I haven’t been running in that heat for a long while and the last half of my run was straight into the sun on an unshaded path.  Curses for sleeping in!

Right from the start, I began preparing myself for this being a harder run compared to my others this past week. Despite some breezy days, the cool weather worked in my favor and I was running sub 8:00min/miles for eight miles a few days before.  However, I also know that you need to keep your pace on the slower side for most runs.  While my pace has been slowly getting faster and those sub 8:00’s felt relatively moderate, even those need to be slowed down from time to time.

I started Sunday’s run out and got it in my head that I would keep the pace at what felt “easy.”  I would ignore my GPS’s pace function and I would just do what I could.  I knew it was going to get hard at some point and I was going to aim for getting to six miles before I opted to walk for a bit.

I broke the run into half mile segments and checked each one off as I went and also checked in to see how I was feeling.  I used my music to push me through and I kept a calm conversation in my head.

Those last few miles were harder but as I approached each one, I was surprised that I was still feeling okay.  They weren’t quite as hard as I made them out to be and I used that as fuel to keep me going.

Isn’t it the worst when you head out for a run and haven’t mentally prepared yourself?  Have you ever started out feeling so great and having the best of intentions, only to get to the halfway point and you begin to struggle?  It is so hard to keep going when you are taken off guard.  It can mentally take the wind out of your sails.

I realized yesterday that I am still a bit traumatized from my last marathon.  There, I admit it.  I really want to run another marathon.  Nine months after I had Mary, I ran the Run For The Red Pocono’s Marathon.  I PR’ed by over 8 minutes and qualified for Boston with a 14 minute buffer.  I felt amazing!

A month later I ran Grandma’s Marathon.  It was supposed to be flat and fast; a welcome change from the final hills of the Poconos.  But the weather had other things in mind as the temps climbed into the 80ºs and black flags lined the course.  My body gave out.  But my mind gave out long before my legs did.

It was a very difficult experience.  It took all of those happy emotions from a month before and dug them in a deep, dark hole.  I knew and I still do know that I am capable of a great race.  But man, that was one painful experience on both a physical and mental level.  The marathon is a beast and when you have been beaten down, it can be hard to get back up.

I’m eyeing races and trying to find the one that is just right for me.  I will be back soon.  It is a great reminder that running is far more than just putting in the miles.  We have to train our brains to handle the highs and the lows.  Preparing for those difficult days is important.

Sure, you don’t want to be a Debby Downer before each run.  I am not recommending that you always prepare for the worst.  But it helps to know what obstacles might be in your way.  Think of how you might handle them.  When difficulties arise, use them as training tools for how you might approach them on race day.

It also never hurts to have donuts waiting for you when you arrive back home!

I didn’t hit the wall yesterday.  It was a pleasant surprise.  But it was also a great reminder that no two runs are alike and sometimes they can really throw you for a loop.

How do you prepare for these tough runs?

4 thoughts on “Waiting For The Wall

  1. You hear it over and over how running long distance is really a matter of training our brain more so than training our bodies to go the distance. For me, I know that there will be runs that flat out suck and others where I feel like I’m flying and that’s normal. The one and only full marathon I ever did was in the 80’s and it was just miserable. I almost passed out multiple times and probably shouldn’t have kept going but I did and somehow managed to finish. It’s tough to get past a race like that. I empathize with you!

    • Oh wow. What a terrible race experience. I’m so sorry to hear that. I can see why it was your only one. Running is a funny thing. Some days are great and some are horrible. I was just thinking today how interesting it is how it gets easier but never truly “easy.”

  2. A few weeks ago I was so excited to run a different route in my town for a 7 miler. It wasn’t a super interesting route (mostly on sidewalks along busy streets) but it was a nice change of scenery. About halfway through the ball of my foot started hurting like hell and it made the rest of the run so miserable. I hate when things don’t go as planned – I just remind myself there’s always the next run. Also I need to eat more donuts.

    • Running is so unpredictable. It’s incredible how fast a good wrong can go bad. But I always encourage my runners to remember that because in a long race like a marathon, things can change quickly and that is the case even with the bad miles. Learning to push through now makes it so much easier on the big day.

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