Marathon Training: 5 weeks to go. In a Row. On Purpose.

When last I spoke of my marathon training, I had successfully dragged my lazy butt 17 miles and my calves were jello and I seriously wanted to kill someone. Then we traveled for 10 days around New Years and the only running I did was twice on a treadmill. To make it challenging I used incline and successfully lasted 6 miles both times. I was happy. It was more than I thought I’d cram in.

The gym also happened to be 237 degrees requiring me to remove my shirt and run in just my sports bra.  I typically shield the general public from the bright white glare of my albino-esque Jelly Belly.  But there was no avoiding it when the treadmills were located in a sauna.  
I ran all summer in 100 degree heat and never once had to take my shirt off. Just sayin'.
By the time we got back from our trip, I was overdue for a long run. So one day after a 9 hour travel day that started at 3:40 in the morning, I decided to get my 19 mile long run in. Genius! Exhausted? Run further than you’ve ever run! That’ll help!

On top of my genius planning, the weather also happened to be cold and windy. Even better! I didn’t think 37 degrees would be that bad. But that’s because I’m an idiot and didn’t check the wind chill which was a lovely 27 degrees. Oh, and the wind was blowing at 22 mph. No really. 22 mph. What on earth. Like cold isn’t bad enough now it’s literally whipping me in the face the entire time. So. Cold. For 4 hours. I can’t even do just to how cold I felt.
I did my best to bundle up. I wore two thicker long sleeve tech type shirts. I also wore a net gaiter (fancy talk for a scarf type thing), an ear cover/head band and a good pair of gloves.

Having said all that, I was cold in my soul. The tip of my nose was frozen nearly the entire time. But I’d take a frozen nose every day of the week and twice on Sunday compared with running against 22 mile per hour wind. Not only because I’d end up slow but because it would make your eyes water and cheeks tingle and all I could think about mile after mile was how cold I felt. I felt like I was getting nowhere and bathroom stops were so pleasantly wind chill free it was that much harder go back out in it.

It was sapping my will to live. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I say that about every long run I’ve ever been on. And you’re right. But this was a new way to sap my will to live. It was almost educational. Like, oh, you think you can run in any kind of weather? Take that. You can’t.

By mile 15 I was dying a slow death and started walking now and then. By mile 16 I was walking .10 of a mile and then running .9. And mile 18 and 19 were more walking than running. And the slower I’d go, the colder I’d get. The colder I’d get, the more pissed off I’d get.
9 miles in and freezing.  This is the face of a woman who can't believe she's not even halfway yet.
It’s been a long time since I thought that long and consistently about how much I wanted to quit and go home and do it another day. It’s been a long time since something was so impossible to distract myself from. I thought about quitting nearly from the start.

By mile 17 I was just a pissed off mess fixated on when I could go home. My calves were jello. I’m sure it was at least partly because I hadn’t been as consistent with my running over the holidays because of travel. And to have to walk so much at the end just felt like a failure. So then I had a long freezing cold chat with myself about what the goal is. Because I thought my goal was to get to the marathon finish line. And if it is, then it needs to be enough for me if I do my best. And if my best is going to require some walking then it is what it is.

So then I’d argue with myself that I know good and well it’s mind over matter and that I just fell down on the job making myself do it and see it through. And then I’d remind myself that Jeff Galloway says I have to cover the distance to get my muscles ready and that it doesn’t matter how much I walked in there so oh well. And then I’d say it sucked and why am I even doing this. And then I’d say there will be days like that. And then I’d say I know I can do better. And then I’d say maybe next time I will. And then I said, I will seriously lose my mind if the weather the day of the actual marathon is like that. And then I said, so what if it is. The finish line is the goal. Not the speed with which I get there. I need to stitch it on a pillow and make it my mantra until it sinks in.

Marathon training is no joke. That was a hardcore 19 miles.

I was cold for days afterwards. I wore my winter coat and gloves to the dinner table. I wore at least 3 layers of clothing everywhere.  No amount of hot showers put a dent in it. I told my husband my soul was cold.

The cold soul was compounded by my detour into Whole 30. Nothing like being cold and dying an exhausted carb free death. I barely scraped together any runs and was feeling pathetic. But once I gave up on Whole30, my energy level was back in business. Just in time for another long run.

Sunday morning I ran 20.5 miles. In a row. On purpose. I like to say they were in a row and on purpose because when I mention my running at work, the first thing I get asked is if  all those miles were in a row.  Yep. 20.5 in a row.

Pretty sure my coworkers are now bored to tears hearing about it. They mostly shake their heads and look amazed anyone would willingly subject themselves to it. I feel them. I think the same thing. You have no idea.
10 miles in and not yet hating life.  Strange but true.
The first 15 felt good. Or as good as 15 can feel. The first mile was hard. But it’s always hard. The second mile was slightly less hard and then the other 12 were sort of on cruise control and the weather was as perfect as you could get. It was sort of nice and it all felt very doable. Which is beyond insane because it’s 15 miles. My outlook on life was completely glass half full.

Then at mile 14.5 my stomach sent me a message. The message was like a wave sort of rolling in on the beach. But instead of rolling onto the beach it was rolling progressively through my intestines. It said, Hey, girl, I’ve been thinking about you. Then at mile 15, it said, Hey, girl, where’s the nearest bathroom. And then it said it again at 16, 16.5, 17, 18.5, 19.5 and 20. Let’s agree to not speak of it. Except maybe to say that the park restroom has some seriously cheap toilet paper that I became convinced could double as sandpaper should anyone ever need large quantities of sandpaper in a pinch. Ugh. Just ugh.

And then it was done. On the bright side, it was very encouraging to make it 15 miles without wanting to die. On the down side, I wanted to lay down on the sidewalk and curl up and die at mile 20.

On the bright side, I didn’t curl up on the sidewalk and die at mile 20. On the downside, I seriously need to figure out what to eat in the days leading up to a long run to avoid any repeat performances. Because the park bathroom with the sandpaper-esque toilet paper was bad enough. Just thinking about living through a series of disgusting port o potties the day of the actual marathon is enough to make me hurl. If I actually had to use that many port o potties in one day, I fear my head would explode trying to block the sights and sounds from my memory.

I am now less than 5 weeks away from running a full marathon. 5 weeks in which I will need to dig deep into my lazy soul and find the oomph to convince myself I can run 26.2 miles. In a row. On purpose. I’ll have one more long run of 23 miles and that’s it.

The longer my long runs get, the more I have come to respect the 26.2 mile distance. That is so far. When I came home after my 21 mile run, my calves felt like Jello. When I think about people that try to just go out there and run a marathon without really doing the work to train for it, I think about my Jello calves and I want to shake those people and warn them they could get really hurt. You can fudge it on a half marathon and not die a slow death. You might be slow and it might not be fun. But I figure you can get to the end.

But I just don’t see how you can with a full. You have to train. And that includes making yourself get dressed and walk out the door to do 19 and 21 mile long runs. And that takes will power. Because you know how long that’s going to take and you know how hard it’s going to be and you know it’s going to be one long mind game to get it done. But you do it anyway. And you don’t even get a medal at the end. You mostly just get to face plant into lots and lots of food because you will be a hungry wench and you burned a hell of a lot of calories so you won’t even feel bad shoveling in whatever you feel like eating. Which is fun. Don’t get me wrong. But the rest is hard. Really hard.
5 weeks. Heaven help me. 5 weeks. I can’t wait for it to be done. I hate to say that after training for it for so long. But seriously. I’m over trying to convince myself I can run for 5 hours. I’m ready to put up or shut up already.

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.
Week 17 - 9 miles.  Like being on vacation compared with 17.
Week 18 - 6 miles.  Twice on the hotel treadmill while traveling. Thumbs up.
Week 19 - 19 miles.  22 mph Arctic Tundra winds blowing in my face for 4 hours.  My soul is still shivering.
Week 20 - 2 miles.  Why did trying Whole30 seem like a good idea while training for a marathon?
Week 21 - 20.5 miles. 15 really good miles.  5.5 miles of bathroom stops. 

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