I knew coming into this marathon cycle that it would be hard. I had a BIG goal.
Peak week with 50 miles total.
Then the B goal: Do it three times.
How It Started
The first 50 mile week I focused, as I always try to, on the next workout. That’s the only one that matters. Then those individual workouts stack and soon enough, you’ve accomplished the goal.
Well, my first 50-mile week I learned what I meant and how it felt to hit mileage that high. I finished that first 20-mile run, which wrapped up the week, with a sprint and MASSIVE smile on my face. I had done it!
The focus going into this second peak week had been simple: rinse & repeat.
I made it to 30 miles on Friday and had one 20-mile long run to do today. So far, I’d felt pretty good. Tired legs as expected but not exhausted or deterred. I showed up to my group run for the first portion of my 20 and slowly but surely, the wheels fell off one mile at a time.
How It Went
It didn’t take long for those “tired legs” to become tight hamstrings. Then came the cramps. Not leg cramps, mind you, that can be stretched and moved on after, but rather lady cramps that simply slow you down as it feels (in my case) like your uterus is trying to fight its way out of your body via your abdomen.
I had to slow down, but I kept going. “Inches become miles, inches become miles,” I chanted in my head as my pep talk to overcome the need to slow my pace.
Despite starting at 630 a.m. and having experienced a tease of fall weather, the temperatures started to climb and my mood progressed the opposite way the hotter it became.
Luckily I had a VERY patient friend who joined me for the back half of my run after I left my group. It’s never easy to join someone at the tail end of their long run. It is when they are surely to be the hottest, most tired, and just flat out in the worst mood possible. That is also precisely when they NEED you to join them most.
She kept me going one mile at a time with delightfully consistent chatter to distract me from the hamstrings, cramps, heat and oh yeah, achy feet that joined the party.
Soon enough we didn’t just walk a few seconds at every mile marker, but really anytime my mood (and all the aches) got the better of me. If I whined, we walked. Then I’d suck it up and keep going because, after all, the more you walk the longer it takes and I needed to be DONE.
What Mattered Most
Some days are just rough all around. Yet, we keep going. Why? Because like life, what other option do we have? Stop? Give up? Unless I’m truly injured, and I wasn’t in that run, then I keep going. It may not be pretty, but one foot in front of the other gets the job done.
So even though I lived in a bad headspace at the time, I found three reasons to smile for this 50-mile week picture:
1. I love Chicago and this view makes me SO happy.
2. The run was HARD and yet I never once doubted I could get this done. It was just going to take longer than I wanted.
3. I didn’t have to do it alone. Find yourself a running friend who is a champ and will hang on (and/or distract you endlessly) when the grumpiness sets in.
If you run marathons then I assure you it’s only a matter of time before you’re in my shoes and that of my friend. We each play both parts in a training cycle. As much as I wish this run has been better, the BEST part of it is that despite how hard it felt and how piss poor my mood became for so many miles, one thing reigned supreme:
I did it.
And if I can do it on a training run with tired legs and 30-miles under my belt for the week, I can surely do it in a race on fresh legs when the crowd support and race atmosphere are in full effect.
So yeah, sometimes hard is manageable. Sometimes it’s just flat out hard. But also, that’s life. So choose your hard wisely and power through.
Another 50-mile week is done. Time to regroup on a cut back week and try this one more time pre-race day. Good news: It can’t get worse! HA!