Big Sur Marathon is 12 days away. 2 weekends ago, I had my last long run which was supposed to be 23 miles according to the plan I have written for myself. I had done 22 once that actually felt okay. I had also done 20 that was H.A.R.D. ugh. I was mentally prepared (I thought) for 23. It wasn’t an ideal day- I couldn’t begin the run until 11:00 after a few kid’s sports games, but I left as soon as possible. By mile 8, I knew I needed some energy so I took my first block, which was earlier than I had intended, but fine. At 10, I started getting some weird breathing cramps, which was odd- my intensity had not been too much at all, so I didn’t know why I was getting these unless it had to do with the “run gum” that I had started at mile 9. Anyway, my legs felt heavy, fatigued, and my body was heavy/lethargic feeling and flat. I was trying to stay calm and not panic with wondering what was going on. I tried to mentally break up the miles as best as I could- I was doing some hill repeat sequences… because…..hills at big sur….. then I stopped home at I maybe 15 miles to go to the bathroom and got back out asap. I was just slow and felt a bit miserable. Each mile took forever and I really just barely felt like I was moving. I kept trying to eat blocks for energy, but it didn’t really feel like it was giving me too much energy. It was a beautiful day, in fact hot, so that could have played a role in how hard it felt. Long story short: I did 21 because at 20 I had stopped somewhere to refill my water bottle and when I stopped, my body was shaking and I knew I felt a bit light headed, felt like I was 80% on my way to having the flu with body aches, etc. So, I finished. In a bit of tears because I didn’t do my goal/plan.
The day after this, I was telling someone how I know and accept that I am not going to be fast- there is no possible way, so it would be silly of me to expect some number that is out of my capability. I just was hoping to be strong enough at this point for it to not feel terrible. I was reminded that… IT WILL! IT IS A MARATHON! You don’t finish a marathon with EASE! Even when you are appropriately trained! It will NOT FEEL GOOD. IT WILL TAKE EVERY SINGLE THING. PERIOD. Have no other expectations besides putting yourself out there for that.
It was a good reminder. My last marathon was 7 years ago and that is so long. I have forgotten, and that is part of why I wanted to do another one this year. The marathon is so mental. I may be physically trained at this point as much as I will be, but I still need to work on my mind. I have much mental prep that I need to do, and I will be doing daily until the race.
I was thinking about my wish for the marathon to not feel terrible. I feel like I am slightly “afraid” of pain. I’ve gotten older and softer (physically and mentally!)--- mentally I think I am not as full out committed to the extreme….. I’m not as angry (trying to prove something to myself), scared, which is a good thing. It is no longer my everything. I also have high on my heart some of the recent injuries- back and hip, that I am afraid to feel “pain.” I am reminding myself right now that “pain” of injury isn’t pain of effort. I think that is a big distinction, at least for myself. That is helping me right now to mentally prepare for pain, without being fearful of the pain of injury.
The pain of effort: THIS….. I am willing to go to this pain. In fact, one of my first mantras years ago that helped me so much was, “No one said that this would be easy.” I would repeat that to myself mentally, and it reminded me that I wasn’t ever out there for something easy to do. It was ALL ABOUT doing the hardest things I could think of. I am not out there to sail through. I am there to find my grit, use my fire and inner will and power to make it happen. It will be a fight. It will be as close to a 10/10 effort as it gets (I usually say you never get to a 10 unless you need an ambulance) but this will be everything and I am prepared for nothing less. I won’t be smiling the whole way. I won’t be able to. I won’t be loving every minute of it, that is not the point. (at the end though, I will have loved every minute of it in retrospect!)
I’ve done some races over the years and gotten my fitness to a place at times where I can tell I am the fittest version of my capability. And sometimes even through that strong effort, when I am at my fittest, there is a sense of “ease.” I know that is the weirdest thing to say, but it is a feeling of fitness- that I am ABLE to be working at my capability. I feel like when I am at my fittest, it is easier for me to complete some races than the effort of some people who are doing it slower than me. And that knowledge has given me a bit of fear of now BEING one of the slower people.
I have done it before, I have finished 8 marathons (plus 1 that was in an Ironman Triathlon). And I will be in my strength, step by step, powering through 26.2😊 I have some mental prep still, but I am going to be ready. 12 days. I finished a strong workout today of 14 miles with 4x (2 miles tempo/1 mile easy) included and I pushed hard and got it done. I have one more 13-14 miler and some in between runs. I’m working to already be hydrated, to stay healthy and positive, and prepare my mind. I’m excited. Fitness should never be boring and I love varying it up between different distance tris and now going back to a marathon.
I am fully willing to go through the pain of full marathon effort. Nothing less.