Alright so here I am, one month away from my second marathon ever. The past two weeks have been nothing short of torture, I have come to love ice baths, and laying motionless on my hardwood floor for hours on end just becuase its not standing up. One week ago I completed a twenty mile long run, and I fear that everything has been rolling downhill since I failed to recover properly.
Here's what it was like to get up to the big 2-0. First of all I was on vacation so i had to improvise my route. I was excited that i had not let vacation break me out of my routine. I was gonig to stick to something so difficult, something that no one (except my mother) understands. I had to skip wine with dinner, skip staying up late at night to play cards with my cousins, at least i did not have to skip eating! I was in bed by ten thirty and then awake again to get in one last late night snack. To say i was not nervous I would be lying however I did what I always did and convinced myself I was going to be fine. A twenty mile run would take me no more than three and a half hours and after that I would be on vacation for the rest of the weekend.
I broke down the twenty miles into three intervals of a six mile out and back, and one two mile out and back to finish the job. My twelve year old sister was going to do one six mile out and back with me, both to give her some company, and to get some miles under her belt. She was a future marathoner and she didn't even know it. She ended up doing eight miles that day with me, a middle six and the final two, but if you asked her how many miles she ran she would refuse to say she ran eight. "It doesn't count if you stop in the middle" she said.
Promptly at six am the next morning I rolled out of bed, grabbed my running gear that was piled in a corner and headed downstairs, waking Chelsea on my way so she could eat something and then go back to sleep. We ate Luna bars, something I am quickly becoming disgusted with, Gatorade, and she went back upstairs. I popped in my ear buds and began playing some upbeat music to get me going. the day was grey and cloudy and they were calling for rain. When I was all stretched out, I headed out the door for my first lap.
I was unfamiliar with the course I had picked, only having driven it the night before on my way in but found it to be somewhat decent. Going out it felt flat, a few uphills, and then it started to pour. I mean, poured so hard i had to ring out my shorts every so often to keep from weighing me down. And then I turned around and realized the seemingly flat course i had mapped was in fact a slight downward grade the entire out, and thus mostly uphill the way back. But I made the first six miles in under an hour. Not really a great feat if i was only doing six miles. At this point in the game i wasn't about to complain. I jogged a few circles around the cul-de-sac and waited for my sister to come trotting down the driveway with Gatorade and shot blocks.
I asked her who was awake in the house yet, knowing the answer would be grams and thats it. Everyone else would still be sleeping. We ran up a few hills, past some roadkill that has both of us refusing to look at the ground and holding our noses, past a tiny road side stand selling (overpriced) maple syrup and sunflowers. Chelsea laughed when i asked her if she would like some syrup. I said maybe on the way back? Luckily we made the whole six miles with out a drop of rain, the way back was tough on her, and tough on me, my second time up those hills but we kept pushing and when i dropped her off back at the driveway i had convinced her to come back in an hour and join me for my last two miles. I would really need it.
I know that if she wasn't there I still would have run the miles.
My last six was the longest of the three. My legs were lacking serious energy. I made it in just over an hour. I hated myself for running slow. how was I going to keep this up in a race if i couldn't do it in practice? My willingness to slack off killed me. And then my stomach attacked.
Finishing up mile 18 i seriously contemplated dashing in the house to use the bathroom before finishing out twenty but i somehow convinced myself that with only two miles to go I would be a wuss if I stopped for anything at all. When I met Chelsea for the second time at the end of the driveway I asked her how she was feeling, we had never run more than six miles and she was about to do two more so i wanted to make sure she was ok. she said she was feeling good, how was I feeling. Not so good I said with a groan, not good at all.
The last two miles started off painfully slow. and I mean painfully slow. but some how I made it through every last step, taking a final push towards the end, charging down the street and finished doubled over, every muscle in my body aching.
"Chelsea," I said, as we walked down the driveway gulping what Gatorade was left in the bottle, "I want you to remember this when you run your first marathon. Because that was probably the hardest thing I have ever done, but you know what, it's worth every second of it"