Accepting Reality

Things on my 18 miler last Saturday were never going “well.”

Chief among the many problems being that my breakfast just wasn’t sitting.

Considering the fact that it took me until the end of July to make a breakfast breakthrough in the first place, I think we can all agree that I’m more than a little bit Out Of Time as far as going back to the drawing board is concerned.

Miles 1-12 were a re-enactment of The Mediocrity Bowl.  But at mile 16, I had to action a run-walk situation because it honest-to-goodness felt like I had ripped an abdominal muscle.

I wanted to salvage the wreck.  I really did.

For the first time ever, I stopped mid-run and attempted to stretch.  I tried adjusting my carriage.  I tried running faster.  I tried running slower.  I hydrated.  I snacked.  I got spiritual.

Nothing.  At the end of 18 miles, I had strong legs, and a non-permanent body malfunction.

The reality I refused to accept is that my body was not physically capable of moving forward…or anywhere at that point.

As I hobbled over to the area where I had called for Marcus to pick me up, I had a moment that gave me pause.

A scenario that I have been trying to avoid thinking about at all costs is the one in which I get to mile XX during the marathon and cannot physically move my body forward anymore.  Where the very idea of walking paints a rosy picture.

It’s not that I’ve been hoping for a bad run.  Really, I haven’t.  Every Saturday morning, I pray for strong legs and an injury free run.

Isn’t that what’s really at the heart of what we all do?

But for me, the mental preparation has been an uphill battle.  I am my own worst enemy, slave driver and cheerleader all rolled up into one.

In some ways, I want to avoid the Worst Possible Scenario At All Costs.  And yet, the other half of me is BOLTING towards the mouth of the beast.

Because I feel like if I experience it now, then at least I know the unknowable.

Or as we learn from Icarus, you can’t possibly know how warm it’s going to be unless you dare to fly too close to the sun.

As I tried to kill off the Ke$ha that was blaring from my iPod, I had a revelation.  I was walking and I wasn’t ashamed.  I didn’t feel less-than or like a failure.

Was I completely perplexed by my body?  Absolutely.

But the world didn’t come crashing down around me.

Which is a step in the right direction.

How do you work through a bad run?

How do you mentally prepare yourself for challenging situations?

8 responses to “Accepting Reality

  1. Wait a minute. Did you finish your run with a walking pace, or did you accept the help from Knight In Shining Armor? I’m amazed at this story because something similar happened to Jay during our 1/2 Marathon Training with his IT Band. It was horrible and we had to call my mom to pick him up. Also – reminded of the importance of carrying a cell phone. And it prepares you for the realistic question, “what happens if THIS happens during race day?” and I think you nailed it – the world didn’t come crashing down. You chalked it up to “lesson learned” (damn, I HATE those!) and moved on. Onward and upward, to better runs. 🙂 So proud of you and all this mega-training. You = superstar.

  2. I think it is good that you experienced this situation now as opposed to on a race day. Now, you know it happened. Most often I find I wig myself out, and when a situation arises that I hoped to avoid, it goes better than I thought. Also, I bet this is a natural part of the training process. And I am sure even the best runners have bad days. You are not a bad runner. You just had a bad day. Remember that!

  3. As a non-runner, I’ve got nothing but I’m seriously and continually impressed by your efforts to listen to your body and push its capabilities. Hope you get this thing figured out!

  4. Kat – As someone that ran her first marathon back in April, I completely know how you feel. Once you start running beyond 14 miles and into the real scary digits, everything feels impossible sometimes. But I will tell you, the one thing that kept me going, knowing that to finish a marathon is a huge accomplishment. Also, I told myself during training that whatever happens (bad/good days) that the actual race would be different, and it was. I ran in blistering heat and had to walk/take water breaks so I wouldn’t over heat. So, don’t feel bad about walking because even Hal Higdon says to walk! You’re doing a great job!

    P.S. Happy be-lated birthday!

  5. The fact that you made it as far as you did is a phenomenal achievement in and of itself. Nonetheless, some times you just have an off day. This happens to me all the time on my three miles shlogs through the neighborhood. It will go better next weekend. Have you tried audiobooks on your I-pod yet? Might be better than Ke$ha.

  6. I’ve been seeing a personal trainer and last night we were working out and my body just kept giving up. My hip flexors locked during sit-ups. My neck got tight when I tried to do presses. It was bad. I kind of beat myself up about it, but I realize that sometimes, our bodies just CAN’T do it. I think it’s better to recognize it than to keep pushing and get injured and be out for weeks. Or worse. But I have to tell you, I still am kind of beating myself up so I feel you.

  7. Awww, sorry to hear about a tough run. You know, I used to NEVER walk / stop on runs at all, and now I wholeheartedly embrace walking breaks. Of course, I always stop my watch when I walk, which I probably shouldn’t do because I won’t have that option during a race…

    I was supposed to do my 18 miler this weekend, but I think I’m going to postpone it until next week because I’m sick. I was actually looking forward to it because I bought a bag of candy corn to eat… I’ll let you know how it works out 🙂

  8. Pingback: Pushing Through | Tenaciously Yours,

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