I knew this day was coming. On Sunday, I had my worst training run (to date) of this marathon season. It was, by far, the most physically and mentally draining run that I have had in the longest time.
Sixteen miles were on the agenda because I didn’t get a long run in last weekend with it being the St. Malachi Run and the Great Wolf Lodge trip that didn’t happen. I was on the mend from being sick on Friday and Saturday and definitely not 100%. The kids shared their germs with me, and I felt like all I did on those two days was sleep. I couldn’t even remember the last time I slept until noon, but I did it both days. My carb loading and hydration went out the window because I couldn’t keep food in my body, but I knew I had to try and get this run in.
I had planned to run outside, but I wanted to make sure I was in close vicinity to a bathroom, just in case, and opted for the treadmill at the gym. Plus, I wanted to break in my super sweet new kicks (hello, new Mizuno Wave Inspires!). I have been waiting for my old ones to reach their expiration date, so I could wear these. They had been sitting in my closet for months, and now was the time.
I had my water bottle, gels, music, and a magazine to cover the screen. I hopped on and started running after a quick warm-up. I felt pretty good at the beginning, but I could tell my body was tired. What was even more tired was my mind. I looked at the screen, and it only said 1.85 miles. I felt like I had been running forever and already wanted to quit. How could I possibly make it over 14 more miles???!!! I was also running a lot slower than my last long run which was 14 miles as a 9:40 pace. I was pushing it to run a single mile at 9:40, let alone all 16 of them. I had to slow the treadmill to between 9:49 and 10:00, which made me a little upset.
This is where the mental part of running kicked in. I was kinda freaking out internally over this run, but I had to calm myself down. I knew I could run this distance, and I just kept saying that over and over in my head. I CAN DO THIS! I also broke it up into more manageable chunks because 16 miles just seemed so daunting. The treadmill allowed me to go for 60 minutes before it went into cool down mode. I only had to get through 2 full rotations and then about 40 minutes, give or take a few, and I would be done. I tried not to look at the treadmill screen either because time goes by so slowly that way. Unfortunately, the only thing that was playing on all three TVs was basketball. Eww. Sorry to those who love March Madness, but I am not a basketball fan at all.
The first hour was done, and I was over 6 miles in. I kept trying to occupy my mind with other things, but it just wasn’t working well. I kept thinking about how much I wanted to quit, but there was no way I was going to let myself do that. I am not a quitter. The next few miles went by, and I got a text from Raymond saying that he was coming to the gym. When he walked in, I was so happy. One because he could give me the little motivation boost that I needed, and two because I was dying of thirst and needed my water refilled. I only had about 6 miles to go at that point and knew I was in the home stretch.
Second hour was done! Another 6+ miles added to the total, and I only had a little under 4 left to complete. I started getting really antsy at this point, and I always do this at the end of a long run or race. All I wanted to do was to finish. My body was getting really tired at this point, and my form started getting crappy. I could feel myself whining and whimpering, and I am sure I looked pitiful to anyone who walked past. One of my favorite songs came on at this low point. It was “Somebody’s Hero” by Jamie O’Neal. I know this is not your average running song, but I love it. I reminds me of my grandma and mom, and I hope that it reminds my kids of me some day. “Come on, Stephanie! Pull your shit together and finish this!” And I did. Raymond kept coming over to check on me, and I kept giving the countdown. 2 miles to go, 1.6 miles to go, 1.25 miles to go, .5 miles to go…DONE!
I did it. I ran the entire 16 miles, and I was so happy. I didn’t think this run would have been possible with the way I felt at the beginning, and although I was much slower than my last long run (paced ended up being 9:56 for 16 miles), I was pleased. This was one of those runs that makes you appreciate the easy training runs, the ones where you effortlessly glide through, feeling fantastic at the end. This run did more for me than any of those others because I really had to work hard for it. I wanted to quit, my body was spent, but I kept running. And I was stronger than I thought.