I skipped my run today.
I didn’t mean to. I didn’t sleep well the night before, with a three year old kicking me for most of the wee morning hours. The big girls started their day arguing about a lost baby bunny. I usually try to turn on some Sesame Street for them so I can go run, but they demanded breakfast.
I got dressed in my running clothes, ate my peanut butter toast, put on my shoes, then completely broke down when I couldn’t find my armband. I’m talking Claire Danes ugly cry. I may be a wee bit tired. Or PMSing.
I had my last long run on Saturday, and only one word can describe it:
I have a confession: I don’t look forward to long runs. I prepare the best way I know how, by fueling up with some food, hydrating, dressing in my most comfortable gear, and packing my nerdy little belt with Gu and energy chews. But the whole time I’m thinking I. Don’t Wanna!
Sometimes when I’m prepping for a run, I envision myself flying through it effortlessly. This is rarely the case. Actually, this is never the case.
Saturday I ran a trail that’s near my house. I don’t enjoy running on straightaways, because they never seem to end. I prefer neighborhoods where I can take twists and turns to make things interesting, but I needed a change of scenery, and I knew that a lot of Zooma was going to be on straightaways. My friend Lori runs the trail often and gave me a good starting point and turnarounds to squeeze in 11 miles.
My starting leg of 2 miles was downhill-ish, which was awesome because I was zooming and feeling all I believe I can fly! and stuff. But then I had to turn around and head back to, and way past, my starting point. Oh, that longest leg had me cursing Lori every step of the way. It was uphill. Against the wind. It was humid. My clothes were sticking to me. I had to pee because I drank too much before starting. The bathroom had no toilet paper. And I was only 2.5 miles in.
Let me tell you, there is no pain like hitting the 2 mile mark and knowing you have 7, 8, 9, or more to go. It’s mentally the hardest part of my run. Once I get past it I’m usually fine and can tune out the mileage (this is what we call foreshadowing), but that 2 mile mark gets me every time, even when I’m not about to pee myself.
But I kept going.
Just before 5 miles I came to a grueling hill right before the next park. More like a ramp. Or MOUNTAIN. I knew it was there. I’d been on the trail before. But damn, and I mean DAMN. I couldn’t make it. I had to stop my first non-pee related stop. Then I stopped again at the park to get water and desperately chug a Gu because ENERGY! GIVE ME ENERGY!!! (Also the tri-berry flavor is mighty tasty.) I cursed everyone hanging out at the picnic tables on this nice day, eating hot dogs and birthday cake. Jerks.
But I kept going.
Then…I hit the wall. My legs were killing me. I had no energy left. My groin hurt (sorry y’all. Real stuff going on here).
I looked at my phone and saw the distance of only 7.34 miles, and I fell apart. I stopped and walked. I tried to tell myself to suck it up, you’ve done this before. But all I really wanted to do was sit on a nearby bench and cry, and then I’d be that girl on the trail who was crying while everyone warily kept their distance because who cries on a trail?
I started listening to the other voice in my head. Why are you doing this to yourself? What makes you think you can do this? You will never be a real runner. Real runners don’t feel pain like this. A real runner could fly through this shit. You suck. Now let’s blow this off and go steal some birthday cake from that 2 year old.
That other voice is a real asshole.
I was going to get to that 11 miles if it killed me, and by the way things were going, it likely would. So I reluctantly kept going.
I finally got back to my starting point and saw my amazing family cheering me on. But holy mother of God I still had a mile to go. So I passed them, and nothing sucks worse than having to pass your end point and come back. Rachel ran a few feet with me, insisting that we hold hands. Knowing that in passing them I would turn around and come back to them was the only thing that got me through that last mile.
And then…it was done.
My legs ached. My face was covered in dried sweat and dust. I hugged my kids and bitched to my husband about how hard it was.
But you did it, he said.
I’m pretty sure I left a part of my soul on that trail, and I can’t say it really got me pumped for Zooma. But I’ll be at the Hyatt Lost Pines on March 23rd, and I’ll cross that finish line making the ugliest, most torturous run face I have. It’ll take massive race day adrenaline and a good old fashioned miracle to get me through.
Who doesn’t love a good miracle?