Marathon Training: Yelling Timber!

I have reached the point in my marathon training when the phrase “long run” takes on new meaning. This past weekend, my long run was supposed to be 17 miles. 17. That’s straight up cray. That’s not a run. That’s a road trip.

I am the laziest runner I know so just thinking about running 17 was super intimidating. I mostly just avoided thinking about it. But when I did, I knew I’d need to block out a minimum of 3 hours for doing it. 3 hours. Including bathroom breaks and stretching and periods of wanting to die at the water fountain and it was more like 3 ½. Holy crap that’s long.  And, yes, I realize I say that every single week when my long run gets longer.

But it was week 16 of my marathon training. Week 14 was the week after my 15 mile Gerbil Wheel of Death run with stomach issues. So I “took it easy” and only did 9. And, yes, I do realize I now live in an alternate universe where 9 miles means I took it easy. 
Smiling because I'm happy I was only running 9.  Looking weirdly big hipped because I'm inept at locating a good angle of me in my fugly visor. I am however really good at getting a good angle of the hand dryer in the background.
Week 15 we were iced in. I felt like it was obvious I couldn’t run. Then while sledding with my kids I spotted a guy clearly out for a run. Not running to get out of the cold. Running for exercise. I think I’m supposed to admire his dedication but I mostly just wanted to punch him. It also would have been pretty gratifying if he could have slipped and fallen (without getting hurt!) while I was watching him huff it around making the rest of us look bad. Not only did he not fall but he also looked like he ran faster on ice than I run on dry pavement. I hate him.

At any rate, this ‘fraidy cat did not run in the ice. That brought me to week 16 and 17 miles. Sigh.

Do you have any idea how long 17 miles is? Because it’s more than just 17 miles. It’s wanting to quit and go home like 572 times over the course of 3 ½ hours. It’s "How much further do I have to go?" running through your head 314 times. It’s "Holy crap, I’m not sure my knees can handle this" 68 times. And it’s, "Why am I doing this again?" 43 times. And it’s "I’m never training for another marathon again. This is insane" 1 time.

So basically, it is hard as hell. You get to 8.5 miles feeling pretty good only to realize you have to do that distance again. And then you get to 13.1 and you don’t get a medal. And on top of no medal, you get to keep running for another 4 miles. That’s hard core. And that’s just a training run. What on Earth.

As I mentioned, I felt pretty good the first 8.5 miles. The weather was nice.  I made an effort to pace myself and not use all the gas in the tank early.  And I had a plan for when I'd eat.   I had decided to split my bag of energy chews into 3 portions and eat at miles 4.25, 8.5 and 13. Pretty sure the fancy runner types call that a “fueling strategy.” I just call it evenly dividing my calories in the hope of not falling out on the cement. 
This female just ran 9 miles and still feels pretty good.  Go figure.
I liked having a plan for it this time. I’ve winged it and ended up breaking them out too early. I’ve also not planned and not been near a water fountain to wash them down. Both suck in unique ways. So big thumbs up to thinking it out and having a plan. I like to think this old dog has learned a new trick.

The last 2 miles were by far the hardest. Duh. But I did have some mental breakdown during mile 10 to mile 13. I blame this on failure to plan. But if I’m going to require learning a new trick on the fueling thing, of course I need to learn this same lesson on the distance thing.

Specifically, my husband asked me that morning before I left if I had a 17 mile route planned out. I was all, whatever. I’m going to go my usual way and just add on some here and there. Right. Except my usual route usually gets me to 9 or 10. From there I’m winging it. Which isn’t too hard when you only need to get to 13. But when you need to tag on enough to get you to 17, sheesh. That’s not here and there. That requires some thought.
By mile 10, I don’t want to think. I want to mindlessly plod along. In fact, I do a lot of mental list making after 10. Which means, I’m trying to fight like hell inside my head to stay distracted from the fact that I’m still running and want to stop. Trying to figure out a route is the opposite of distracted.

So this time at mile 9, I came up with the bright idea of doing this one 4 mile loop that I like a second time. But I hate doing any kind of laps. I’m a girl that likes to envision getting from Point A to Point B. So a 2nd loop was a little mentally debilitating. But I was sucking it up and the weather was lovely and I was wishing this was an actual timed half marathon because I ran that first 13 pretty well and did not feel like a complete train wreck. But then I’m done with the 2nd loop and still need another 4 miles. The last part is always the hardest for me and I don’t have a plan for where to head and now I’m all kinds of not distracted. Stupid. And mentally killing me as I started fixating on how much further I had to go. Grrr.

During mile 14, me, myself and I had a chat about never training for another marathon. Because this is some madness. During mile 15, my calves started protesting. My lungs were fine. My energy level was fine. But the balls of my feet were sick and tired of the pounding and my calf muscles were turning to Jello.  My calf muscles were asking me repeatedly what the hell I was doing.  They also wanted to know how I planned to walk at work the next day. What if there was a fire and I had to go down five flights of stairs to escape a burning building. I’d fall face first and be the loser rolling down the stairs. Is that what I want for my life?

My calves voted no. I told my calves to shut the hell up.

I stopped for a last water break at mile 15.5. My calves could barely be convinced to make forward progress again. They couldn’t believe I had the nerve to stop running and expect them to start again. My daughter also couldn’t believe I wasn’t back yet and had the nerve to call me 3 different times to discuss a trip to the mall, a trip to the mall and a trip to the mall. Pretty sure those inquiries could have waited.  Clearly need to find out if that kid has her father’s cell phone number memorized, too. I'd hate for him to miss out on the fun.

During mile 16, I played Roar by Katy Perry two times and told myself to earn some stripes. Then I played some Kesha/Pitbull and seriously started chanting “I’m yelling timber!” inside my head over and over again.  I also told myself it was going down! I was closing in on it! Yell timber! Don't stop! Yell timber! Yell timber!
And then finally, I was in front of my house, doing a few laps back and force waiting for my Garmin to click over to 17. And when it did, me and my spastic calves went to lay down and stuff our faces with food. Because, little known fact, training for a marathon will lead to grazing like a cow for several days in a row.
And grazing on apples and carrots doesn’t cut it. Cows graze on deep fried crap and chocolate when they are training for a marathon. Or at least this one does. On the bright side, while you are grazing like a cow inhaling giant icing filled cookie sandwiches from the mall, you do feel pretty invincible. Because if you can suck it up for 17 miles, you might just be capable of anything you set your mind to.

Ridiculous but true.  10 weeks and counting to my marathon.

My Handy Marathon Training Summary:
Week 1 – 5 miles. So pleasant! Can’t believe I’m done already! Whee!
Week 2 – 6 miles. Yeah. That’s a training run. Hope the weather cools off soon.
Week 3 – 7 miles. Death March. Kill me now.
Week 4 – 8 miles. Did it! Yeah, for cooler weather! Finally! Felt pretty decent.
Week 5 – 9 miles. Is my Garmin broken? How did I magically get to mile 8 already? This is crazy awesome!
Week 6 – The Mysterious Bubonic Plague hit and my gluteus was left sore thanks to a giant
shot of antibiotics.
Week 7 – 10 miles. Is my Garmin broken again? This is crazy awesome times 2! Except for the last mile that involved time stopping and the mile lasting 6 years.
Week 8 – 11 miles. Shoot me now and put me out of my misery. Death March Part Deux. Things just got real.
Week 9 – Zero miles. Iced my foot so much I had a frostbite scare and got through 13 episodes of Breaking Bad.
Week 10 - 12 miles.  I'm back!  No foot pain!  Who cares about anything else!
Week 11 - Zero miles.  Cold weather camping
Week 12 - 4.5 miles plus another 5 walking.  Recovering from mysterious illness contracted while cold weather camping.  Randomly warm, humid weather sapped my will to live.
Week 13 - 15 miles!  Long freezing Gerbil Wheel of Death with stomach issues for 10 miles.
Week 14 - 9 miles. So refreshingly pleasant because it wasn't 15 miles. 
Week 15 - Zero miles.  Ice apocalypse outside.
Week 16 - 17 miles.  Long.  Duh.  Exhausted calves.  But could have been a lot worse.  I'll take it. 


Anonymous said...

you're doing so awesome!! i am beyond impressed with what you've been doing in the past few months with your marathon training. keep it up! (and i love that song. gets me moving every time!)

Shelley said...

Marathon training takes a ton of grit. You, my friend, have grit!

BTW, have you ever played with mapmyrun.com? You can plan out a long route so that you don't have to think while you're running (my brain turns to mush after mile 5, I swear).

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