When you start training for any big race, there are a lot of things to prepare:
the right shoes, different flavors of Gu, updating the iPod playlists, mapping out runs...
but I feel like the hardest aspect of readying yourself for the big day is the one least talked about: the mentality of marathoning.
If mile 18 is usually when runners hit the infamous "wall" on race day, well then training week 12 is my mental wall. And it's made out of concrete. and steel. and a few bricks for good measure.
My training has been completely thrown off by the shin splints from hell I've been experiencing. I've switched shoes, I've cut my mileage way back, and I've been improving my form, but it is a slow road to recovery. As a result, I've missed two of my long runs and many of my shorter mid-week ones. (Side note: For those concerned, I have gone to the doctor and had x-rays, I am cleared to run. This post is NOT intended to encourage pushing through an injury or ignoring doctor's advice)
Today, I set out to do 8 miles...the longest distance I've run since December 31st. Physically, I was a little sore and a little rusty, but it was manageable. Mentally, I was a mess.
I am wracked with self-doubt. What if my shin doesn't get any better? What if I can't handle my long run this weekend? What if I've taken too much time off and it's hopeless? The thoughts were "racing" through my mind. (get it? racing? since I'm talking about running? aaahhhh, I slay me)
Around mile 6, I had a tough talk with myself. I needed to cut the crap and start thinking more positively if I ever wanted to pick up the marathon mojo again. I decided to pull out my secret motivation weapon. I zone out and start imagining what it's like to run the actual race. I close my ears to the doubt and the fear and picture Sean on the sideline with the camera, the medal around my neck at the finish line, calling my parents to scream with delight that I accomplished my goal. It may sound silly, but it helps me. a lot. (the promise of red wine when I get home does wonders too)
I finished the 8 miles, came home and took my first ice bath in several weeks, and made the next big step to getting back into marathon mode...I bought our plane tickets.
So here we are...less than 2 months away from the race. Number secure, plane tickets secure, accommodations secure. Me? Not so much.
I wish more people would talk about how scary a marathon is. I am scared. 26.2 miles is a long. freaking. way. to run. I can't imagine sitting somewhere for 4 hours, let alone running it. But I want to. Really badly.
While looking for motivational running quotes (Unfortunately, we can't always rely on chocolate and booze to push us through), I thought this one was perfect:
"The miracle isn’t that I finished; it’s that I had the courage to start."- John Bingham, The Penquin
Right on, John. I like this. I am courageous. I've already overcome the biggest hurdle of all, the decision to sign up for the race and commit myself to an 18 week training period.
I've got 6 weeks left before this race...that is plenty of time for me to make up the missed mileage (try saying that ten times fast). In the meantime though, I need to be nicer to myself. After all, it's just a run. A gosh darn long one, but still just a run. I won't be curing cancer or solving world hunger during those four hours, so I need to chill out.
I will spend these coming weeks doing everything I can, mentally and physically, to get ready for the marathon and we'll see what happens on March 6th.
Either way, I already think I'm awesome...
and really, isn't that what matters the most?
(worst case scenario, I'll just go to Barcelona and drink a margarita the size of a swimming pool. It's a win win if you ask me)