If your first thought upon seeing a new post pop up from me was, "Wow, she must be faster and is already done with her 17 miler somehow," then I must sadly correct you and tell you that I am not only still slow as the dickens, but I also did not run 17 miles today.
I was ready to run 17 miles from the preparation standpoint. I washed and folded my running outfit and had it ready to go. I laid out my tech food and used The Stick to roll out my legs as I watched TV last night. I usually am wide awake at 5 but didn't wake up until almost 6:30 this morning, which is a true testament to how tired I am, because I rarely sleep that late. I got up and did the coffee/Cliff bar thing, but was thinking how much I did not want to run from an emotional standpoint. I began to think negatively, which is just about the worst thing you can do before a long run. Long runs are really more of a mental challenge than a physical one, and if you start off in a bad place then you're pretty much screwed. But I let my brain go to a bad place, which was to think about how tired I was, how sick I was of having my weekends robbed from me, how frustrated I am with other aspects of my life, and a million other things that are on my mind. Even so, I pulled on my clothes at 8 am (an unheard of late start!) and went out of the door.
I started down the road at a decent pace, but began sweating, my knee hurt and my calves started to cramp. It hit me all at once of how physically and emotionally exhausted I was, and when my Garmin beeped to signal I'd gone one mile I suddenly said aloud, "I can't do this today." And I didn't. There was not a single moment of hesitation, or a mental pep talk about rising above it. I turned around right where I was, texted Eric that I was coming home, and then walked my ass right back to the house. I didn't even attempt to run the rest of the way back, I walked with tears streaming down my face and every resentment from the last few months boiling over in my head.
When I signed up for the marathon, I knew that physically it was going to be challenging. I think that anyone, runner or not, knows that the training is no joke. What I was not prepared for was the mental and emotional toll. It's something that is not really talked about, or at least it isn't among my runner friends or any of the running magazines/blogs. And I'm not talking about the "oh that run sucked", or "this is hard" kind of thing. At any given moment, I feel completely raw and exposed emotionally. It's difficult to explain, but it's definitely one of those, "I'm at the crossroads of life and on the cusp of having to choose which path to take." I am not typically a crier, but in the last few months I have felt so raw and fragile that I am constantly one conversation or one situation away from tears. There are a lot of days where there are tears. The running is not causing that per say, the cause is other things in my life, but the running is exposing hurt and resentment that I didn't even know was buried in me. Again, I can't explain why that is other than when you are doing distance running you are having to give it everything you have physically and mentally. Sometimes what you've got mentally is damaged.
I don't talk about my professional life much for a lot of obvious reasons. All I will say is that it's the cause of a lot of the hurt, stress, exhaustion and resentment that is going on. I am definitely at a point where I feel my personal life (which is wonderful and I would not change a single detail of...other than wishing I won the lottery) is being encroached upon. I feel a lot of my personal dreams and happiness have been compromised, and have honestly felt that for some time, but the running has really dredged things up in a way I had not expected. It is difficult to have that going on all week, and to desperately need a physical and emotional break on the already too short weekends, but to have to dedicate 4 hours to a very physical and sometimes brutal run. And then after the run, you are dealing with physical pain and recovery, which is always a blast. By the time that's all over, it's back to work. I feel overwhelmed and like I am half assedly doing a million things, and none of them well. I miss weekend things like gardening, taking the time to cook a really nice meal, going to brunch or hell...just doing a short 3 mile run for the hell of it. Running for pleasure for me is on the backburner, and I honestly do grieve over that some days. And I miss writing on the blog more often. I would love to do it daily, since there are always funny little things that Molly is doing, or cool shit that Eric and I do, but I'm too tired to write about it all 90% of the time.
Days like today make me lean towards the opinion that this will be my one and only marathon. The physical stuff does suck, like the sore feet/knees, the being hot, the time training takes. But that isn't the deterrent for me anymore, it's the mental stuff. I don't know that I can go through that again, and I am relieved beyond belief that the marathon is in like 4 weeks. I know I will make it across the finish line, and I know that I will be happy and proud that I did this. It will be one of the coolest things I've ever done in my life. But it has changed me as a person and it's been a bit frightening. If you are considering running a full marathon, I warn you...it will do shit to your head that you should be prepared for.
I am not discouraged or mad at myself for taking a break today. As you can see from my flowery, philosophical post, I needed a break. I want to do some things today that will make me feel happy and good about myself. Maybe I'll finally clean up my summer garden, which is beginning its death throes, or make that really nice dinner that I'm always too tired to make. I'm not sure yet. I'll run tomorrow and it will get done, so you lucky folks will get two posts in a row from me.