Turkey Trot instead of Marathon Glory

Today was race day. The runners, just outside of Baltimore, started off at 8:30 through the brisk November morning. I was just rolling over in bed, thumbing through Facebook. I should have been running, but instead I was 300 miles away. I checked the weather on my fellow runners: cold, but not too bad in the upper 30s, and no rain. This bummed me out more.

I knew this would happen when I opted out of the race about a month ago. I was 8 weeks into a 12 week training cycle and I just couldn’t do it anymore. My knee wasn’t cooperating. My pacing wasn’t cooperating. I was deeply depressed. I was terrified that I was damaging myself further by trying. I was terrified that there might be no future races if I kept going. I was confident that I could do well in this race, knee injury or not. I was even confident enough to believe that I could win it. But I wasn’t confident that I’d be able to keep running after the effort. I was in excruciating pain and I didn’t know what else to do, so I took everyone’s advice and I quit.

I had two full weeks off before I was told that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. My scans all came back clear – no tears, no breaks. I was getting frustrated because I was being accused of making it up. I was being told that it was all in my head. I. was. fine.

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Cleared to run!

I got back into movement with some cycling. Then I added in some dog runs. Then I threw in an up tempo “workout” here and there. My knee hurt some of the time, but when I paid close attention to it, I realized that it never seemed to have anything to do with running – if anything running made it better! But I wasn’t ready to do a marathon. It broke my heart to give up a fall race, but I knew that whether this was physical or psychological, I wasn’t well enough for it. I had to let it go.

Instead, I signed up (last minute) for a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot race. I’ve never run on Thanksgiving morning before, but I know for a lot of people it is a big tradition. My town was having theirs, and since I’m trying to become a part of my new community, I figured why not.

I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t run for most of the summer, and I’d done half a marathon training cycle, followed by nothing. I didn’t know where I stood 5k wise, especially since I hate the distance. I figured that based off my recent half marathon I could pull off 6:00 miles and maybe do around 18:30-19:00. But, I knew that would be on a good day with some good training under my belt. I hadn’t even been to the track in nearly two months!

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Alyssa and I leading from the start.

Long story short, the race was okay. An old teammate from high school was there, and this made me happy. She’s super fast and a huge inspiration of mine. While of course I follow her on social media, I hadn’t seen her in almost 15 years, so running into her was great. We got to line up together and chit chat after the race as well. It was very cold with blustery winds. 12 degrees with a wind-chill of zero made breathing alone a painful chore. Over 2,200 people had registered for the race and 1,463 of them showed up. Alyssa and I took off from the front of the starting line and we were able to hold our positions at the front of the pack. I felt like I was flying, but every time I looked down at my watch, I was disappointed to see my pace. 6:17s, 6:20s…I should be able to go faster. It sure felt like I was going faster. But the wind and the ridiculous temperatures made movement impossible. My throat was burning with the cold air. My limbs were numb and I wasn’t even really sure if they were doing what they were supposed to. I just couldn’t go fast. This was it. This was all I had in me. This 5k felt like one of the longest runs ever and I just couldn’t wait to get to the finish line and be over with it.

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Alyssa ran the whole race a few paces behind me, but still had a kick left for the end and took first female, while I came in 3 seconds behind as second. I had nothing left except for a grunt to encourage her on her way. My face hurt. My fingers tingled. My feet felt like numb cement blocks. I finished with a 19:26 – not fantastic, but really not too bad either. I was just glad it was over.

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Alyssa finishing strong. Me back there just trying to finish.

I’m happy with my second place finish and my time. I’m happy because it was all the effort I had for the day, I’m just happy I did my best. And, I’m grateful that I was able to run at all. I wasn’t broken, I wasn’t injured, so what better way to celebrate that than to run a race on Thanksgiving! So, sure, a few days later I’m a little sad that I didn’t run the NCR Marathon. Of course I am wondering what I might have been able to pull off if I’d tried. There are a lot of what-ifs. However, there are more marathons and I will race them. For now though, I think I will focus on some 5ks, maybe a few 10ks and be happy that I can run at all. I’ll work on strength, speed, & power with the shorter distances and then go after something big next spring. Oh, and in the meantime, I have this awesome swag to get me through my running blues.

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Gym Membership discount, a massage session, free yoga sessions, and Starbucks gift card – all a part of 2nd place prize!
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Bracing Myself: Week 7

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Compression socks.
Knee brace.
Ankle brace.
Ace bandages.

I’m trying to hold myself together. I’m trying to figure out how to get through this, but I’m struggling. I know the smart thing to do would be to take a break, a long break, but I really want to find a way to make this marathon work.

This week was a combination of recovering from the half marathon and building back up to regular training. I pretty much ignored my training schedule because it was asking me for doubles, speed work, and hill repeats. I just couldn’t get myself geared up for all of that. Instead I ran a lot of easy recovery miles, slipped in an upbeat medium-long run, and of course got in my weekly long run (complete with marathon race pace miles). I spent the week running by feel and stopping when there was pain. The tendonitis in my left quad is back, causing my knee pain, as well as a fun new pain in my foot – peroneal tendonitis. I have found that the pain in my right foot isn’t so bad as long as I wear an ankle brace/sleeve during the day. I don’t have to run with it on, as long as I spend most of my day with it. Same kinda goes for the knee. I’ve been wearing a neoprene sleeve which seems to help. I don’t like running with it, but I tend to have more issues without it. I can run flats and up hills just fine without it, but down hills are a killer, so I make sure I have it on if I’m going to take a hilly route.

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I have a lot to think about and am bracing myself to make some tough decisions in the next few days. I’m not liking this and I really don’t want to be smart about it. But, if I am not feeling better soon, I’m going to have to pull out of my marathon for the sake of my body.

Monday: 4.5 easy miles. Legs aren’t as trashed from the race as I thought they’d be. All systems go!
Tuesday: Decided against the 1km repeats and opted for a steady state run instead. Did a warm up walk/jog with the dog, then 45 mins at marathon race pace with the last 15 minutes as a cool down. Quad pain returned on the down hills. 7.7 miles total.
Wednesday: Quad & foot pain decided it was a rest day.
Thursday: A nice strong medium long run, about 30 seconds slower than race pace. Wore knee & ankle brace which helped, but was annoying. Knee hurt going down though. 8.6 miles.
Friday: New knee brace that’s less pinching & annoying – knee felt good, but quads still sore & hamstrings are tight. Ditched the ankle brace & was okay. Super slow, easy 4.2 miles.
Saturday: Family reunion & super busy, so I decided to take a rest day & push the long run to the next day. Since I would be on my feet all day, I opted to wear both braces, and this was a good idea.
Sunday: Feeling great on my “fast finish” long run – 8 miles easy, 5 miles at marathon race pace, 2 miles cool down. Only wore knee high compression socks and everything felt great. Then half way into the cool down my foot found a hidden rock under the leaves and I seriously rolled my ankle and pulled my Achilles. Now I’m all wrapped up in an Ace bandage feeling sorry for myself.

Week Seven: 40.1 miles, 5 hours 29 minutes, overall 8:12 pace.

Half Way Through: Week 6

This week I was a ball of nerves.  I’d just come off a massive depression bender and a week and a half of illness and now my mother-in-law was in town to visit for the week. Despite being consumed by a dark cloud, I managed to get the house somewhat presentable (although some standards can never be reached) as well as focusing on fine tuning my training for an up coming half marathon. My husband also had his own throwing competition on the calendar, as well as a four day work trip to Pittsburgh, my own parents showing up for dinner, and turning 35 in the middle of it all.

Ah! Deep breaths, deep breaths. Breathe into a paper bag…

I did everything I could to try and at least remain calm on the surface, but I’m not gonna lie – it was hard. I was very worried about running my half marathon. I wanted to run under 1:30, but I honestly didn’t know if I could. I had had so much time off, was only six weeks into any kind of training, had done so little strength and speed work, and now my knee was starting to bother me again. The pace of 6:52 per mile (pace I would need to hit a 1:30 even) was daunting. On threshold runs I was struggling to hit 7:00 miles. How was this going to work?

I stuck to my training schedule and did the mini taper. It felt strange to run so few miles, but I was also thankful for the break. My left knee was back to feeling weird – not painful, just weird. My right ankle bone decided to act up & rubbed and caused a lot of pain in all of my running shoes. I only had one real workout all week, which I slammed through, giving me a little bit of confidence.

I tried to tell myself that the half was less of a race and more of a workout. It was a test, a mini quiz, to see how my training was going – and that the final exam was coming later. But still, I stressed.  It seemed so important to do great things.  But lately I hadn’t been feeling very great and I just didn’t know what kind of race strategy to use.  I just didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t have a plan B.  The only thing I could do was try to not go out too fast and try to hit 6:50s for as long as possible, then deal with it when I no longer could.

Looking terrified on the starting line.

We got to Hartford about an hour early, so I had plenty of time to warm up and check my gear. It was about 40 degrees and raining. Thankfully I had been a bit smarter this time and made sure that I had a seeding sticker on my bib so I could start in the correct corral. I got a spot right up front, just behind the elites. This was both worrisome and exciting. We stood in the rain for what felt like forever as the National Anthem played, some speeches were made, and some guy said a prayer. Finally we got to go.

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Hoards of wet runners make their way down Capitol Ave in Hartford, CT.

I went out too fast. I zipped through the first mile in 6:39. But the first mile doesn’t really count, I told myself, Just settle down and get into the groove of things. I clocked through the second mile at 6:17. What are you doing Mazy?! The thing was, my groove was faster than I’d anticipated. I was tucked into a nice, neat little pack and running comfortably. The first 5k whizzed by in under 20 minutes. I was in a group of guys who clearly knew each other as they chit chatted and joked back and forth. Their conversational pace was too fast for me, but as we approached each mile marker, I became more and more confident in the run. My brain kept screaming at me to slow down to a 6:50 pace as 6:30s and 6:20s kept flashing on my watch. I knew I’d blow up at some point – the question was when? How long could I pull this off before I crashed and burned?

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A nice, neat little pack a few miles in. Never would have accomplished this without these boys.

I figured I could hang with these guys until about the 5 mile mark, then I’d have to face reality and try to salvage my race. Instead, I took the lead on mile five and passed a fast chick that I’ve been super jealous of since high school. It was the first time I’d ever been in front of her and I was feeling pretty damn cocky. We hit the half way mark and I was still feeling decent. Then all the guys started whipping out gel packets and the real race started for them. At mile 8 they started to take off. I knew I couldn’t (and shouldn’t) try to go with them. I was handling the current pace okay, but dropping the hammer now wouldn’t be wise for me.

At first my pace faltered. I no longer had a pack to work off of or help break the wind. The rain was picking up and I had moments of feeling very chilled. But I had five miles left. That’s less than a tempo run, I cheered myself on. As the course made it’s way through Elizabeth Park, I gained on another female runner – the only one I’d seen since the five mile mark. I passed her with some words of encouragement. She leap frogged me. I over took her again. Once we reentered the city, she was behind me.

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Powering through, ignoring my brain telling me to slow down.

The last 5k was rough. I really had to work to maintain the pace now. It slipped a little, but only to 6:40 at mile 11 and was regained in mile 12. I pushed through the last mile as hard as I could go. 6:23. Not my fastest in the race, but damn close. I was now grunting every third stride. I felt kind of like a wild animal and I just wanted to stop moving. I was cold and done. I had no idea what my over all time was. I was refusing to look and only checking splits. I’d be happy with anything at this point.

I could smell the crowd at the finish line long before I saw it. It smelled like coffee. I remembered that I had poured myself a cup and forgotten it on the kitchen table. I really wanted a coffee now. It was a scream tunnel as I made my way to the arch. The noise was dense and my senses were dulled. But I saw my husband whooping on the side lines. My mother-in-law was there, cheering, and my boys were next to her. Everything was blurry, but they were crystal clear. I lunged, stretched, reached for the finish line. OH MY FUCKING GAWD I’d done it.

I slammed through the timing mat in 1:25:44. I never knew I could do that. I was overwhelmed. I was over joyed. I jumped up and down like a lunatic. I cried.

The guys I’d been pacing with were further down the chute, chugging water. I shook their hands and thanked them for letting me draft and pace, congratulated them on their runs. I found my husband and we screamed and jumped some more. I had completely smashed my goal and crushed my PR by 6 minutes. I was high on the excitement.

I’m very pleased with my half marathon performance, but, I still have a lot of work to do before the big race. This was only a test after all. I’ve taken a few days to process it and relish in the joy of it all, but it’s time to get serious again. I have big things coming up and it’s important to not get too complacent. We are only half way there.

Monday: 5×1000 meter repeats with 75 second recoveries, plus 2 miles warm up & cool down. 7.5 miles total. This went really well with every rep being under 4:00.
Tuesday: 4.5 plodding recovery miles. This is when my left quad/knee started acting up.
Wednesday: A threshold quickie. 10 minutes easy, 10 minutes at threshold pace (6:35-6:40), 10 minutes easy. KT tape helped the knee some. Not looking good though.
Thursday: Rest day on my Birthday!
Friday: 3.7 miles super light & easy. Anxiety over load.
Saturday: Hartford Half Marathon – major PR!
Sunday: Not too sore, surprisingly. 2.5 mile walk/jog with the dog.

Week Six: 36.1 miles, 4 hours and 54 minutes, overall 8:09 pace.

Getting Over Myself: Week 5

I managed to pull myself out of the slumps and roll out of my sick bed with new vigor this week. Actually, scratch that. It was more like a slow wind up. I started the week off hating running. It was grey and damp most of the week, which was depressing. I felt like crap, which was also depressing. Running wasn’t going well, I didn’t care anymore. It was all rather limp and sad.

But I made myself do it anyway.  I knew that if I dropped out of the race, cut the training cycle short, I’d be pissed at myself later.  I knew that there was nothing actually wrong and very little reasons for me to be so down in the dumps.  I needed to just get over myself and push through it.  It would be better once the week was over. I knew it.  And I knew I’d be proud of myself for at least trying.

As always, I was right.  It was really tough lacing those shoes up and getting out there.  I was nervous about going to the track for mile and thousand meter repeats.  I was scared of a looming long run.  But it wouldn’t kill me.  I had to just do it – like a damn Nike commercial.  And each day was indeed better than the last and by the time I got to my end of the week long run, I was actually psyched up for it.  I even ran 2 extra miles to make it a full 20 miler!

I had been so negative lately that I had convinced myself that mile repeats would be impossible and that I’d never get my distances back up.  I was sure that I was somehow still broken and unable to do what I had to do.  But I forced myself to put that negativity aside and just try.  I hit my mile splits and thousands right on target. I covered the 20 miles with ease.  Sure, I had to work, but it didn’t crush me.  It didn’t even exhaust me.  And, I think I’ve gained back an ounce of confidence.

That is really what marathon training is about for me; finding out just how strong I am and building myself up.  It’s about finding a wee grain of confidence way down deep that you didn’t even know you had, and using every ounce of it to push through & feel great with the effort.  Sure, it’s about times and placement – it is a race after all.  But it’s also about just me being a better, stronger, more confident me.

I’m glad I finally got over myself.

Monday:  Off. Mostly laying in bed feeling sorry for myself.
Tuesday: One hour run on the bridal trail (mostly flat, soft surface) strictly for mileage sake. Did not want to do this and had to drag myself outside.  Not the greatest run, but better than moping around the house. 7.1 miles.
Wednesday: The dreaded track workout. Easy 2 mile warm up, followed by some drills & stretches. 1600m at 6:45, 3x1000m at 4:07s, 1600m, 3x1000m, 1600m all with 90 second rests. 2 miles cool down. Was a bit slow at the start, but on target all in all. Very pleased.
Thursday: 
Another one hour easy run.  Paces were quicker than intended, but felt great.  Focused on a good, solid turn over. 7.3 miles.
Friday: 
Just running for running’s sake. Should have been a rest day, but it was too glorious out not to do something. Super slow 3.8 miles with drills & strides thrown in the middle. Enjoyed the day.
Saturday:
The Long Run. 13 miles at easy pace (goal was 8:30 pace, a few miles were a bit faster. Did have to work on keeping it slow at times since I was getting excited.) 5 miles at marathon race pace (7:15 per mile). Hit it on a few, went as fast as 7:04 on a few others. A great effort. 2 more miles slow as a cool down. All in all 2:44:53 – not too shabby! 20 miles in all and very pleased.
Sunday:
A much needed rest day. Cheered on my husband at his final throwing event of the season. Surprised at lack of soreness.

Deathbed: Week 4

This has been a terrible training week. Just awful. Last week wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful. I was feeling an illness coming on & I ignored all the signs and crashed after my long run Saturday afternoon. Then I hit a major wall and was on my deathbed for 2 days. I was just so sick and I barely had the energy to get up to go to the bathroom.

On Tuesday I felt somewhat less dead and was able to muster up the strength to get out and do a super easy jog around the neighborhood. It was pouring rain, and I was apprehensive about it. But I layered up and went out. It was probably a bad idea, but it did bring my body temperature up, which felt amazing – at least for a few hours. I was able to run again the next day, a little farther and a little faster. I actually felt pretty ok. But Thursday was rough, and I had to take it off. I started getting the chills again and it felt as if just breathing and blinking required an exorbitant amount of effort. I had a lot of congestion in my chest & kept coughing up ectoplasm. I didn’t want to risk it.  Tried again Friday, since I had slept 14 consecutive hours and was feeling “normal”.  Plus the coughing had stopped. Again, it was cold and rainy and I felt a bit feverish on my run. But, all in all I felt okay. Except, as the day went on, I began to feel worse again. I was done on Saturday – confined to my bed again, unable to move.

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Barely moving all week

I convinced myself to try a light run today. I was supposed to get a 16 mile long run in with 4 of those miles at marathon race pace. But I knew this effort would never happen, and I settled for an extremely slow 8 mile jog. I ran and, while slow, it felt fine. My body felt a little weak, but I wasn’t pushing it in the slightest. Yet, when I finished at my driveway my sinuses decided to let loose. I went to wipe away what I assumed would be snot, only to discover that I had a massive nosebleed. Shortly after finishing I began to shiver uncontrollably. I took my temperature, which ended up being 95.5 degrees! Ugg. Whatever it is depressing my immune system really has a serious hold. After a hot shower, several cups of warm coffee, soup, and a hoodie later, I was still only able to raise it one stinking degree. I think I’m going to have to be more aggressive with my recovery tactics…

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Chicken soup with noodles, chicken soup with rice, chicken soup with zucchini…how many different ways can you make the same soup?

Monday: Death. All kinds of death. And snot. And pain. Did not get out of bed.
Tuesday: 4.6 miles at 9:05 pace – just easy around the neighborhood.
Wednesday: Mistakenly thought I was better and did 7.5 rainy miles in 8:24 pace. What am I trying to prove?!
Thursday: Sleep. Soup. More sleep.
Friday: Try again. 7 dampish miles, same upbeat pace. Followed by death.
Saturday: Yup, didn’t move. Some vomiting. Mostly just sleeping though.
Sunday: Mild attempt at a long run – 8 miles at 9:23 pace because I just don’t care anymore. Followed by a nosebleed, ridiculous chills, and massive headache. Oh, and I think the chest congestion is back.

Week Four: 27.1 miles, 4 hours of running, overall 8:51 pace.

Let’s see if I can make it to Week 5.

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6 hours later and I’m still chilly

Ignoring the Signs: Week 3

My plan got a little thrown off this week and I had to improvise. I didn’t look ahead when I should have and didn’t realize that taking a day off would shuffle everything. On Monday morning I woke up exhausted. Trying to pull off a threshold run felt like the most impossible task ever. I felt tired and weak, and knew that if I attempted the workout I’d just end up disappointed with a sub-par run. I needed a day off, so I unapologetically took one. I figured I could just do the threshold run on Tuesday and it wouldn’t make a difference. Tuesday morning I realized that I had a track workout of 1000 meter repeats scheduled for Wednesday, a designated day off on Thursday, a steady state run on Friday, and a long run on Saturday. Each workout fed into the next one. And I’d already muddled it up. Tuesday, I decided to ditch the threshold run and just do an hour run. Then I’d get back on track.

I went back and forth on Tuesday morning about what to do.  Which workout was the most important? I was going to have to sacrifice something from the schedule and I was so afraid of cutting the wrong thing. I realized that in the end it probably wouldn’t really matter. Is one week going to make or break my race? Unlikely. I decided to just focus on getting some nice mileage in for my third week of training and then pay better attention in the coming weeks. It would be fine.

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Post long run weariness.

My run on Tuesday went great. I was strong and quick. I blame the sudden cooler weather. Since I felt so good, I went ahead and turned it into a somewhat of a tempo run, averaging a 7:42 pace. Of course, this meant that a track workout the following day would leave me busted up, plus I was tired. So on Wednesday I took it as a light day with a mere 3 miles at warm up pace. Now, I couldn’t push the track workout to Thursday because the steady state run was so important. (The goal was to have tired legs for the long run the next day). So Thursday became another easy day. I did do the steady state run (that’s 15 or so seconds faster than marathon race pace) and nailed it with an average of 7:00 miles. My long run, my longest in a long time of 16 miles, was also a success. By the numbers I had a pretty great week.

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Power Pose!

However…

I didn’t pay enough attention to a nagging sore throat or strange cottony feeling in my ears. I also didn’t get a whole lot of sleep throughout the week, with much less than 8 hours each night. I wasn’t hydrating. And then came the long run. I woke up later than usual, so I was rushing to get out the door and get started. It was my first long run in awhile where I needed my hydration pack and I didn’t check it over. I discovered two miles into the run that my tubing was laced with mould! I tried not to drink from it, but it was a long, warm run, and I had no choice but to take tiny sips. By the last few miles my throat was raw and I felt a clicking sensation in my chest. It wasn’t long after I had finished that my body simply crashed.

This morning my throat felt like I had swallowed handfuls of glass shards and my chest hurt. My ears are stuffed up and I’m flat out miserable. I’ve spent pretty much the whole day laying in bed, binging on Netflix, and attempting to rehydrate myself. I’m hoping it’s nothing more than a cold that will pass quickly, but I am kicking myself for not doing anything about it sooner. I was quite aware of the signs all week – I just chose to ignore them, and I’m sure the effort of the long run is what did me in. Next week might end having to be an easier week with a dip in mileage, but I’m okay with that if it means I’ll be healthy to run the Hartford Half Marathon in three weeks. I’ve come so far on the recovery train, I can’t bare getting derailed with injury or illness now.

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Compression socks are the only things saving my legs now.

Monday: So incredibly tired. Rest day. Also, my final chiropractor visit!
Tuesday: 7.7 mile tempo run. Amazing run, though quite tired after.
Wednesday: 3 mile easy recovery run.
Thursday: 1.5 mile warm up with the dog, then my first run on pavement in a long time. 6.6 miles of rolling hills. Ran for fun, but worked hard on the up hills.
Friday: 1.5 mile warm up, 6 miles of steady state pace (7:00 miles!! WHOOT!), followed by 1.5 mile cooldown. Exhausted, but very busy the rest of the day with errands & cleaning.
Saturday: 16 mile long run at a steady, easy pace (goal was around 8:15 pace, closer to 8:00 due to rolling hills), followed by 1.5 mile cool down back to the car. Hard to focus and stay awake on the ride home though. Utterly exhausted afterwards.
Sunday: Deathbed. A day of Netflix, soup, and lots of tea. Zero miles.

Week Three: 45.5 miles, 6 hours 11 minutes of running, overall 8:09 pace.

Wanting to Quit: Week 2

It was an awful week on the mental health front. My anxiety has been in over drive and depression was as thick as the muggy air. It took nearly everything I had to get out the door and run each day, and then I had to figure out how to summon up the will to keep going. Every step came with an internal argument to cut it short, quit. I spent the week going back and forth about giving up marathons. I felt like an imposter – not a real runner – and I couldn’t find the joy or reason behind it. I longed to just curl up in a dark room and not do anything, think anything, be anything.

But that’s not how marathoning works. Giving up will never get you to the finish. And, like a wave, I knew that the depression, while intrusive and destructive, would slip back into the vastness and let me be. I just had to wait. I just had to keep my head above water. Keep running.

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On Monday I attempted a threshold run. The first serious workout. I should have been hitting 6:45 paces, but I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t. I felt like I was all out sprinting, but not even hitting marathon pace. Frustration wasn’t helping. 7:15, 7:39, 6:54. I was all over the place. I wasn’t fast enough. I tried to shake it off, but the rest of the day I was gloomy about it. I took Tuesday off, but remained in the dumps. I had a similar struggle on Wednesday when I went to the track. I needed to push out ten 400 meter repeats. The workout called for threshold pace (6:45/mile or 1:40 400s) with 30 second recoveries, but I knew right away that that wasn’t going to happen. Instead I decided to just jog 100 meters after each rep and then go straight into the next one. This gave me more recovery time, and a chance to run faster splits, which I did. It shouldn’t have been hard – I’ve done this workout plenty of times. While I did hit the splits nearly perfect, I felt like I had to reach for each and every one. And every recovery jog became a chance for my brain to debate why I should call it a day.

It seemed that no matter what I ran and no matter how I ran it, I just wasn’t happy about it. None of it was good enough. None of it was fun. I didn’t want to do it. I just didn’t care. I felt self conscious about running – all those cars passing me on the street had to be snickering at me. All those people walking their dogs had to be laughing at me. People were surely standing behind curtains in all the houses I ran by, shaking their heads at my inadequate efforts. Of course I knew none of this was true, but depression and anxiety is rarely logical. And that’s why it hurts so much. Your brain knows it’s not real, yet your brain insists that it all is.

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I finally had a break through on Saturday. That was my Long Run day, but the training plan only called for a 90 minute easy run. I was torn. This didn’t feel like enough. I felt that I should try to put out more distance, but at the same time really wanted to trust my plan. I met up with a friend who ran with me for the first part and we ran fast. We were damn near race pace, but it was easy and I was still able to hold a conversation. I wasn’t struggling. I wasn’t angry or frustrated. It was a miracle. She had family engagements and turned back, and I decided to keep going with the pace and make it a workout. I turned my 90 min easy run into a 2×3 mile progression. It was fucking fantastic. 7:47, 7:45, 7:21 followed by an easy one mile break, then 7:00, 7:00, 6:52. I felt strong. I felt powerful. I felt like a marathoning beast. Best of all, I felt like I could keep going forever. And I didn’t hate it.

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Monday: A tempo that didn’t quite happen. 1.5 easy, 3 threshold, 1.5 easy. 6 miles
Tuesday: Rest in the solitude of a dark bedroom.
Wednesday: 10x400m 2 mile warm up, 3.6 of struggling intervals, 3 mile cool down.
Thursday: 3.2 super slow miles. Picture a toddler stomping her feet – that was me.
Friday: Structured fartlek – 10 mins easy, hard effort for one minute followed by three mins easy for 30 mins, 10 mins easy cool down. 6 miles.
Saturday: Long run turned workout – 1.3 warm up, 3 miles race pace, 1 mile easy, 3 miles race pace, 2 mile cool down. Redemption!
Sunday: 5 mile recovery run.

Week Two: 39.1 miles, 5 hours 30 minutes of running, overall 8:26 pace.