WOO! Hellooooo Taper, I never thought you'd come!
So much to cover in this post. Yesterday was a huge, HUGE day for me, hitting my first ever 20 miler. And I did not cry. I wanted to cry...but I didn't.
All of September had been a very trying month. I had my first ever trail half marathon (which was also only my second ever half marathon), my first running injury...which led to my first real running and training plan setbacks for the Marine Corps Marathon. The month was very exhausting physically, mentally, emotionally, and filled with moments of helping friends through their races and embracing that sometimes recovery is smarter than forging ahead and stubbornly showing your strength. It takes a different kind of strength to recognize that your body needs the rest and actually give it to yourself. It takes a different kind of strength to know that although you are resting, you can still be capable of accomplishing what you originally set out for. I rested for weeks after that trail half marathon, weeks which included many, many tears.
I said in a previous post that I will never regret running that trail half, and I stand by it...injury and all. These past weeks since that race have definitely been difficult, but worth it. I know where my determination comes from, and I now know that I have a love for trail running.
Last Tuesday I ran a long run of 16 miles after work, in a little over 3 hours. I wobbled around the days immediately after, my body shocked at the intensity after being sedentary for so long. I failed to run after that until yesterday. Hell or high water, I was getting in my very last long run before tapering and yesterday was my last chance to squeeze it in.
This past weekend was extremely eventful, filled with tons of time with friends. I (late) volunteered at the Army Ten Miler, getting to know a fellow runner while there monitoring the food tent at the end of the race. This person is inspiring with his accomplishments, and we had a really great night out in Georgetown that evening. Hadn't considered the fact that walking around that much the night before my first 20 miler could have such an impact.
I had a restless night of tossing and turning with nerves for the next day. I woke up with already tired feet and tired mind, ate not nearly enough breakfast (one thing of oatmeal is NOT enough for 20 miles when you didn't eat a ton the night before), and in general had a bad attitude about the run. But I left the house anyway. About two miles into the run I started to feel that intense hunger. First warning that I did not eat enough. Never mind the stomach growling, but it was a clear indication of a possible burnout down the road. I started doubting how I could possibly finish the other 18 miles. I made it down to Independence and texted friends searching for someone to snap at me and tell me to suck it up. It wasn't until Hains Point that I realized I only needed myself to say suck it up. By this point I was already mostly just walking, and it continued to be that way for mostly the rest of the run. I got yelled at by a man on a bike that I should be running, not walking, and I got high-fived for my Semper Fi Fund shirt. I'm not ashamed. I think it's hard enough to run 20 miles, but knowing that walking will tack on time also requires you to find a level of mental toughness I wasn't sure I had. I wanted to sit down every bench I saw. I can't be too angry at the turn of events because I learned so many lessons that day. I was nauseous, sore, overheated, covered in sweat. I had no music, no running buddy. And I made it. And that's all that matters to me.
So now I go into these last 19 days confident that I can and will give everything I have on that course. I find myself getting a little emotional writing this because I know all the work I've put in, and I'm so close to accomplishing something very important to me. I know I'll cry on race day...hopefully they will only be happy tears :) I apologize in advance for how much of a nervous wreck I will be for those next 19 days.
This weekend will be 13.1 miles at the Baltimore Half Marathon. The men I'm going with (at least one of them) will be pushing a 1:40, so they're just going to have to suck it up and wait an hour for me to finish. I'm in taper, and I plan on enjoying it! Next week I will post how that race goes, as well as helpful info for any wonderful people who want to come out on Oct 30 to cheer me on!