The Thick of It
T-minus three weeks until the Rock N Roll USA Half Marathon, friends.
That means that this week was my final week before tapering.
That means that I ran 26 miles this week.
That means that I am officially in the thick of this training plan, and I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Let’s get something straight: I think training for two half marathons qualifies me, in some way, shape, or form as a “runner.”But running never has (and possibly never will) come easily to me. I have never been the girl who jumps out of bed on a Saturday morning and goes out to run twelve “easy, breezy” miles with loose legs and a smile on her face.
I’m the girl who wakes up on Saturday morning with butterflies in her stomach (and not the cute, good kind) and an OCD-esque need to go to the bathroom 25 times before getting out the door. I get inside my head and psyche myself out.
Every mile after mile one is a struggle.
But I keep freaking training, and I’ve given a lot of thought this week as to why I do. I spent the majority of my run on Thursday visualizing how awesome it’s going to feel crossing that finish line in DC, putting my medal around my neck, and hopefully looking at my Garmin and seeing a PR—and I guess that’s the reason I’m training.
I love proving to myself that I’m stronger than I believe, that I’m capable of more than I ever thought possible. I love challenging myself and working towards a goal and finally, gloriously achieving it. It’s damn hard work, it’s painful and time-consuming and frustrating and exhausting; but then again, nothing ever worth doing came easy, right?
And so, at the climax of my training, here are some random thoughts on what I’ve done so far, and what I have left to do in the next few weeks:
- Before today, I hadn’t had a great training run (long or short) in over two weeks. Last weekend’s long run was an especially low point. I had 12 miles on the schedule and only managed to finish 10.5 of them. I struggled the entire run, my blisters hurt like hell, and my head wasn’t in it. I was so angry with myself the rest of the day: angry for not sticking with it, angry for allowing myself to get psyched out by…myself, angry for quitting with only a mile and a half to go, blah blah blah. I finally realized that 10.5 miles is better than zero miles, and that it wasn’t that much of a setback in terms of my training. But it was a setback in terms of my mental running game, which (for me) is just as important as my physical game.
- Today’s run (11.5 miles) was, thankfully, a great one. I did it on the treadmill for a variety of reasons (mostly weather-related), and I felt comfortable, both physically and mentally, the entire time. I only started to tighten up on the last mile or so, but I know that, come race day, I can push myself another mile and a half without much of an issue. It felt good to finish a long run not feeling exhausted or totally defeated—it was a huge boost that I really, really needed.
- I’ve been so outrageously lucky with the weather during this training. I’ve had to complete three long runs (10 miles and today’s 11.5) on the treadmill due to snow/wind, but other than that I’ve been fairly unaffected by winter weather. In fact, I’ve had quite a few runs in January and February wearing a t-shirt. If I have weather like this on race day, I will be beyond thrilled.
- I’m so looking forward to tapering. Shorter distances really are my friends, and they’ll allow me to focus on speed—something I’ve seriously slacked on lately.
- My body is not built for distance running. I can do it, obviously, but it doesn’t mean that my hips or legs are happy about it. I stop feeling comfortable around mile 6 or 7. Every mile after that makes my body pretty angry. Whoops. Sorry, body.
- As soon as I finish this race, I’m cashing in my recent Groupon for ten kickboxing classes. I am so excited to do something other than run or pedal on the elliptical. I’m also pretty sure I’m going to start the New Rules of Lifting for Women plan. Now if I can find a reasonably priced Spin class and a dance studio that offers tap dancing, I’ll be all set.
Sixteen weeks down, three to go.
Let’s do this!