Conversations with myselfOctober 1, 2012
Please don’t let me fool you. Not every training day ends with a rainbow, a puppy and a lollipop. The reverse doesn’t happen often, but it happens and for many those are the days that matter the most. The days where the moment you hit the ground running your legs beg you to stop. Your mind begins a small internal battle that can become big if you let it. You start pulling out every little motivational quote that you know from Muhammad Aili, Chrissie Wellington, all of your heroes.
Then you tell yourself to shut up.
You suddenly wish that little dog that comes running to the edge of the yard….. would begin to chew on you so you could lay down. All four pounds of him. You see the guy get out of his car with a fresh pizza in a box and you wonder if it would be worth it to run over and grab it out of his hands. It smells that good.
But you have double digits to go in terms of miles. And the only way home is to run.
It’d been the longest I have run since April and a rather hefty training week. Let’s get one thing clear…… a marathoner I am not. I ran 2 stand alone marathons in the mid 90′s in the beginning of all of this. I have run 6 or 7 additional marathons after first swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112.
Those seem so much more tolerable. By the time you get to the run in an Ironman you’ve sold your bike to some kid on the street in exchange for a toothbrush. And by then running feels like the best thing you could be doing. Several times a day you may question your sanity and your running legs…… in your opinion…. are already warmed up! What’s 26.2 miles at that point?
I am running this marathon for reasons beyond performance. I signed up to run with a 3:30 pace group. I will arrive prepared and aim for the best. Things happen in a stand alone marathon that I have forgotten about, and that’s why I am here.
I am here to hurt. I am here to run through it. I am here to become a stronger athlete.
I avoided the marathon because it gets uncomfortable. In an Ironman it starts uncomfortable.
I want to know what it’s like at mile 22 when I want to lay down on the side of the road. I want to know a true assessment of my open marathon, so I can aim to improve upon that time at Ironman Mt. Tremblant next August. I want to improve my running durability. I want to improve my mental durability.
That’s what I really worked on during the long run this weekend.
The moment you hit the ground running and your body hurts. Not the injury hurt… but the training ache. Your mind and heart say go and your body says….. whoa. Your pace seems ungodly slow but you are in week two of a three week build (that ends in Ha-freaking-WAII).
Fatigue is like layering a blanket. Through the weeks the normal pace seems to slow or get harder, but that’s just the accumulation of fatigue. Week one is always the best. Then week two comes, add another blanket on top of you. The blanket of training fatigue. It can be harder to move, paces can be affected. Week three…. throw another blanket on….. things are getting heavy.
Then rest and recovery week. You don’t lay on the couch … but you drop your volume, drop intensity, clean up the fatigue…. rip off the blankets and come Monday if you are lucky the world is fresh again and those paces oh so slowly drop and the cycle begins all over again.
The mental battle has you all over the place initially.
You put one foot in front of the other and you dig down deep. Deep Deeper. Now go deeper. Wow, I haven’t gone that deep in ages. This is why I am here.
Oh my god I don’t think my legs are going to make it home. You are going to make it home Eggers. One foot in foot in front of the other. Fight through it. Fight it Eggers.
If someone stopped and offered me a ride I would take it. No you don’t Eggers. Run right through the pain. You are not here to be comfortable.
Rain. Wonderful. Your best conditions and you know it. If it hailed you would suddenly have the ability to run faster Eggers.
UGH. F*CK. Okay this mental chatter has to end. 1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2.
Then you realize that it does stop, and while nothing physically has changed everything in your mind has finally quieted and is clear. No more chatter. No more thinking. Just the sound of the crushed stone beneath your feet on this path and the colors of the leaves on the trees hanging above you. The smell of wood-fire. The smell of fall.
Then it’s the last turn. You have been able to increase the effort. Bring it home strong. You make double certain as you cross the road that no cars are coming because your reaction time is not so hot right now.
Then you are done. And while you slow to a walk the ache moves through you but you can’t help but smile. Damn that felt great, and damn that was rough mean the same thing. The ice bath feels amazing right now and hours later your legs still ache. You sleep with them propped up on two couch cushions and take your fish oil.
You revel in that feeling. That feeling of being an athletes. That feeling of being able to do this. There have been times when it was taken from you and you would have sold your soul to have it back. Now its here. And you have a marathon to run. There won’t be a 2.4 mile swim or 112 mile bike to precede it.
And it’s all you.