finding my stride

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I gotta say that so far, March has been a tough training month for me. Between sickness making its way around my house, business trips, and family events, running has been lacking lately. Hell, I only had 9 miles in the first week. Nine! I was starting to worry that I was falling behind, that I might not be ready for the marathon in May. Then, to top it off, I started having this deep pain on the left side of my butt to the point where I stopped running for a few days and even had an appointment scheduled to get it checked out. I was worried, really worried. Would I have to drop back to the half? Would I even be able to run altogether?

I broke out the “real runner” tricks to help overcome the butt issue.
Foam roller and The Stick? Did it!
Rest? Check!
Stretches? Yep!
Advil and a heating pad? You bet!

Also, I would like to think that a meet-up with my Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon ambassador friends helped too! We had a blast last Wednesday, and I was so happy to see everyone. Plus, we scored an awesome ambassador shirt!

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Thankfully, the pain was gone after that, but my confidence took a major hit. It had been about 3 weeks since I got in a good long run, and I wasn’t sure I had it in me. I knew the only time I had to squeeze it in this weekend was Saturday after working at a Girl Scout cookie booth from 1-4pm, not exactly the most opportune time. After peddling the tasty wares, I dropped the kiddles off, got dressed, and stepped out my front door. My schedule called for 16 miles. I was not expecting much, and the goal was to run until I couldn’t, as 16 miles seemed nearly impossible. Well, it wasn’t.

My legs felt great after all the rolling and stretching the week before (note to self: do that stuff more often!!!). I ran the first 7 or so miles around my neighborhood, just in case I needed a bathroom break or didn’t feel the run. After that, I ventured out to the main roads that made a large loop by my house. I love running on the main roads. I feel like I can zone out, and miles click by effortlessly. Sure, I have to dodge the occasional ass who wants to play chicken with me, but I have found most drivers to be friendly.

When I hit mile 11, I got semi-emotional. Although I have run upwards of 17 miles on the treadmill this training season, 10.5 miles was my longest outside run, and that was under nearly perfect conditions. This time, I had a few things against me (lack of sleep, coming back from an injury, not ideal fueling, weird running schedule), and I was still doing well! My confidence started to creep back with each mile after that, and I knew 16 was well within reach.

My watch buzzed within a quarter mile of my house. I stopped the watch, almost died when I saw the time, and did a little fist bump in the air. 16 miles, 2:17:32 (8:35 pace). That, my friends, was the fastest long run I have ever completed. But it was so much more than that. This run made me feel confident, strong, almost invincible. It will be one of those that I draw on when I need a boost during another long run or the marathon itself. It helped show me that I was capable of more than I originally thought.

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