Alright, it happened. Four and a half months into training, I hit my wall. My point of exhaustion. My point of disinterest. My point of wanting to quit. I’ve had to force myself to the gym, force myself to run, force myself to be cautious of my diet and more. I skipped a few runs. I strayed from my training schedule. I went on vacation, drank wine and fruity little drinks, ate everything in sight (including cake for breakfast… Hey, it was my birthday) and avoided my Saucony shoes at all costs. Sure, it helped me regain focus – but man was it rough to return from a “do what I want” mindset back to “goddamnit I’m running a marathon in less than two months, I probably shouldn’t eat this whole box of Girl Scout cookies.” And what better way to get past a wall than to run 18 grueling miles?
But alas, Friday night I ate a healthy serving of spaghetti and meatballs, went to bed at 10:30 p.m. and woke up Saturday earlier than I even do for work. I went through the usual preparations: hydration tab, coffee, bathroom break, toast with peanut butter and banana, bathroom break, put away the dishes, cleaned up trash, vaselined my who-ha, played Candy Crush, bathroom break, pre-workout, packed my fanny, bathroom break and whatever else I could find to procrastinate. At 6:58 a.m., I was gone.
I mapped out my route the night before – from home, down my usual South Meadows and Longely turf, to some new pavement with plenty to stare at as I ran by. I took my first break at mile six, a lovely, strangely crowded-at-an-early-hour Starbucks and was pretty confident in how I felt. I caught wind of some foot pain in the first few miles so those passed rather quickly complete with begging them to get me through *just* sixteen more miles.
As I neared my halfway point, I noticed a familiar sight – bright orange cones, mile markers, an aid station and some cheerful volunteers – I was crashing a race! Party on, Wayne! I had forgotten about the Biggest Little City Half Marathon that was debuting that day, but more so, I had no idea it was crossing my path. As it was on a public course around Virginia Lake, I kept doing the damn thing (with proper race etiquette of course). The coolest part? I recognized some of the local elite runners so I knew I was running alongside the fastest. Regardless, they all treated me like I was one of them. Every runner I crossed paths with, thought I was one of them. They cheered me on, gave me the thumbs-up and a few even said, “only six more miles to go!” Ha! You funny people. I’m flattered, but these legs have to go another NINE MILES )(@*$(*@#.
I took a decent break at the halfway mark to refuel, stretch and snap a selfie. I felt good. Hell, I felt great. A week ago, I had a real tough time running ten miles. How was it that just a few days and a few skipped workouts later, I was feeling stronger than ever? Actually… who cares? I’m a bad ass.
Annnd.. that all changed quickly. I felt myself losing the gusto. An emotional switch instantly turned on. I got overwhelmed with the thought of May 1. I got teary-eyed thinking about my journey. I was a mess and hobbling my way through it. Then suddenly I hear “three miles to go” trigger from my Nike app. I matched my furthest distance. Only a 5K was left. Just three miles. You made it this far. Go.
Though the last bit was met with speed walking, backward walking and of course, painful strides, I did it. Three hours and forty-five minutes later – I did it. Where the hell was my doughnut and beer? (Answer: across the street. When I was done, I b-lined for the nearest grocery store and raided the bakery. I was glad to have those tasty, well-deserved calories burn right through my runner’s body.
Lookout world, I’m an almost-marathoner.