Warning: this post quite possibly contains Too Much Information…
In my last post I talked about how life can get in the way of marathon training. I was thrown a few curve balls as I headed into my biggest week of training and while I did my best to keep up, if you total my mileage from last Monday to Sunday I came up about 10km short of the 76km goal. Not only did I come up short, four of the five runs were awful.
I don’t know if the stress/loss of sleep/missed meals/odd eating times that I experienced while my son was in hospital was the main factor, but my GI system went into full protest. For 4 runs I could barely make it through 5 or 6k (sometimes much less) without desperately heading to a bathroom. It was bad enough on the 11 and 13k mid-week runs, but was downright miserable on my long slow run on Friday. I did get 31k done… eventually, but to be honest it was just a series of short runs to bathrooms. Thank goodness for grocery stores, fast food restaurants and recreation centres. I’m not sure; at what point is a long run no longer a long run if you have to keep stopping? To make it worse it was a cold and damp day. Every time I started again I was chilled to the bone and it would take time to find the rhythm again. I would just warm up, think I was feeling good and the cramps would hit again. At 22k after yet another bathroom stop I made my way to a drug store and bought Immodium. I actually made it through the last 9k without a stop. But by that time it was dark and part of my route back to my car was on trails. Other people were out walking, so I wasn’t feeling isolated, but there were sections where you couldn’t see the ground. Needless to say my pace dwindled to almost walking and even when I detoured to find some light I struggled and my pace stayed disappointingly slow. I have never been so happy to make it back to my car, but I was also so discouraged. I tried to remind myself that I didn’t give up, that I finished 31 of what was supposed to be a 32k run. But it was still hard to ignore the feeling of failure on my final 20 miler. The run left me completely drained… literally. (Sorry, that was my poor attempt at humour about “runs”. And again, sorry).
I had done the long run on Friday because I wanted to participate in our family Thanksgiving tradition – the Fall Colours Race put on by Somersault. I figured if I could get the long run over with, I could take Saturday off and then enjoy the 5k race on Sunday. I even planned to then go for an evening run to make up some of the missed mileage of the week. You would think that after a full day off my system would get back to normal, but no. I did finish the 5k but by 3k I was seriously considering DNF’ing and just getting to the porta potties. Everything about the run felt awful and my time was a disappointing 26:22, a full minute slower than my 5k a month ago. With it being a small race it was enough to win my age group but it wasn’t a win I felt proud of. I struggled through most of the run, though it is worth noting that this is not a fast 5k course; lots of bends, elevation changes and gravel. I felt like I worked way too hard and was way too uncomfortable to have that final time. Later in the day I opted for a nap rather than another run.
And so began the head games. “I peaked already.” “I will never make it through 42.2km.” “I thought I was stronger.” “Why does everyone I know run faster than me despite all of the work I put into running?” There are three weeks until my marathon. It is clear to me that the real challenge of these weeks will be mental. I need to get my confidence back and I need to think positively.
Thankfully today I made it through a comfortable 11k with no bathroom stops (yay!). I also realized that while dwelling on the negatives I hadn’t noticed what I had accomplished last week. Because I ran my long run two days early, I actually ran 91 km between Sunday and Friday. Six days, 91 km! Most of those runs may have sucked, and of course involved far too many stops, but it was still 91k that I fought through during a really difficult week. I am going to try to hold onto that fact in the hopes it reminds me that I can be strong, it just doesn’t always look the way I want it to.
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