I know most runners seem to do their long runs on the weekend, but for my training for this marathon, it worked out better to do them on Mondays. That way I am running while Kendell is working and not bogging down the weekends with lots of running time. I would like to say that Mondays have been perfect for my long runs, except I don’t really know: I’ve had so much sickness that I’ve hardly done any!
But when I got back from my weekend in Colorado, I began thinking about my long runs again. I felt like I had to decide: actually try to commit to running a marathon or decide that the combination of sickness was too much and drop out. Since I’d already paid for my marathon entrance (not an inexpensive fee!) and scheduled some of our activities in San Francisco—but also mostly because the thought “you’re not strong enough to do this thing” makes me want to do the thing even more—I decided I wanted to commit.
So last Monday came, and I had decided to pick up where my half marathon ended, meaning I’d start adding miles to my “base” of thirteen. (It’s not really a base. I am fully aware that I am not exactly training properly…but I am trying to make it work with the time I have left.)
Running a half marathon when you’re recuperating is one thing. I knew there would be support from other runners, the energy of the race itself, and water stops, and that would get me through.
But running 14 miles when you’re recuperating felt like an entirely different thing. I don’t have a running friend, so I’m out running on my own. And there are definitely no convenient water tables randomly set up! I was nervous and unsure. But I plotted a course entirely around parks and trails with drinking fountains, got up way too late to decently start running 14 miles on a summer morning, and started my run.
Fourteen miles. The last time I ran that far was when I was training for the first marathon I ran, back in 2011. And sure, 14 isn’t much more than 13.1, but still. It’s mostly a mental barrier. One I just wasn’t sure I was up for. But I have forgotten how the miles still slip by, and before I knew it I was halfway done. There’s something rejuvenating in thinking “yes! I’m halfway there! only seven miles left!”
I felt OK on my first really long long run. I actually felt really strong for the first ten miles. The last four were harder, but nothing like the runs I boinked when I was really sick. And isn’t that strange—those two really miserable sick runs taught me how it feels to really struggle. The last four were hard, but not that hard, so I knew I could finish. And I did!
Today I went out for my second long run. I’m adding just one extra mile each Monday, so today was 15. And again…I was nervous. Not for that one extra mile, but for the entire run, because yesterday Kendell and I hiked long, and I was still tired from that. (The tiredness, along with random times when the cough just shows up again for no reason I can understand, will last throughout the three-ish months of whooping cough recuperation.) I wasn’t sure I had it in me to run 15 miles. So I gave myself permission: At 5 miles, if I was feeling awful, I could turn around.
But…again, I surprised myself by feeling OK. I did take the miles really slow. And I stopped for water at every drinking fountain along the way. And I was pretty worn out (and even slower) on the very last mile.
I finished though. I felt horrible when I was done—hobbling with worn-out legs and as if I had used every single scrap of energy I had in my body. At first this discouraged me, because sure…I finished 15 miles. But if I am this trashed at 15, how can I expect to finish 11 (.2) more? In six weeks’ time?
But as I thought about it, I realized that probably that horrible trashed feeling happened because I hiked so long yesterday. And it didn’t happen until I’d stopped running, which means that very slowly I am getting stronger.
I’m still not 100% certain of how this marathon will go. I told Kendell last night that probably my only goals will be A. finish, and B. finish before the time limit (six hours). San Francisco is a hilly marathon and I will still be recuperating. So those seem like reasonable goals. (Although there is still a little voice in my head reminding me that up hills=downhills, so maybe I could finish in…but I don’t think it’s fair to myself to have any time expectations.)
But with every long run I manage to finish, I gain a little bit more confidence.
And hopefully saying that out loud won’t jinx my next long run!