Let's bring it back to April where I watched Shalane Flanagan among others throw down on the Boston Marathon course.
I was participating in my usual "watch live feed online coverage of a major race while attempting to do something more important" ritual and got hooked in. Out of nowhere my brain said to me "Do another marathon." And my body said "Ok." And that was that. No profound realizations just simply, "I'm going to do another marathon." This was before any tragedy struck. This was early on when the Rita Jeptoos were finishing. The tragedy did nothing to sway my opinion, if anything it just strengthened my resolve.
Fast forward to June and marathon training had commenced. My most memorable run in the past 16 weeks was the very first long run on the calendar. It was about 380 degrees outside and at the time I was working a 6am-2pm shift in food services at a long-term care facility. It was a pretty physical job with a strict uniform (down to the very uncomfortable shoes) and even stricter time clock policy. No way I would be running at 4am to get finished and to work on time so I decided to go right after I got off. I changed in the locker room at work, walked through the halls with a big gym bag and running gear on, got a lot of crazy looks and headed out into the Louisville summer afternoon heat and humidity to run 5 miles, my long run. I made it the 200 feet to my car and was begging for anything to help me cool down. It wasn't quite Badwater hot but I'm pretty sure it was close. I met up with
Autumn who was already cursing me before she got out of the car and we trudged up the steps to the Crescent Hill Reservoir to run around a body of water we'd rather be floating in. It was terrible. The heat hurt. My legs hurt. Everything was bad and right then and there I decided to quit training for a stupid marathon. 5 miles later the endorphins were keeping me sane but the euphoria from watching the magical finishes in Boston was long gone. I decided to go back to the drawing board.
Obviously I didn't quit. But that first long run made me question pretty much everything I'd ever known about myself in an hour or less. I was starting to get a little worried about what 5+ hours in my head would do for me. As the runs got longer so did my patience and aside from a few meltdowns - which are to be expected - long runs became the highlight of my weekends. Even in the rain, the heat and/or the humidity I was cruising along according to plan.
Of course then stupid me had to go and get injured. We all know how that's been playing out but before long I was able to run again, albeit not like I wanted to be.
Autumn was giving the camera the finger...
Over the past 16 weeks (or 4 months if you'd like to make it sound as long as it's felt) a lot has gone down and been learned. Traveling the road to the marathon hasn't been easy by any means but it's been mostly fun. Along the way I managed to get engaged, leave the country, switch jobs, move into a new house, injure myself, heal myself, injure something else, sign up for a 70.3, meet with a triathlon coach, pick up a second job, decide on a potential career path, get married and lose about 15 pounds from learning to eat more actual food. It's been awesome.
It's weird to think that it'll all be over by Sunday afternoon (God willing).
Autumn asked me during our last 8 mile "long" run what I was going to do on Monday and I had no answer. I have a cycling program I plan to do during the winter to get some chops up in that department and in January I'll start hard on Raleigh. There are some races I'm at least considering but nothing I'm willing to pay for just yet. In some ways I'm so glad to not have the "You Must Run!" command hanging over my head every week but it's become such a routine and lifestyle that it's also hard to say goodbye to. I imagine this is how I'll feel after an Ironman...times 1000. In the meantime, I read that I'm allowed to eat tons of carbs between now and Sunday so I've basically got an alarm set to eat potatoes and pizza every half hour.
Happy Thursday Friends!