Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Task Ahead of You, is Never Greater Than The Strength Within You: Me and 23 Miles

Okay so like always I am going to be open and honest about my training runs and today is no exception. I am also going to ramble and go on and on, and probably have a bunch of grammar mistakes. And this may be very long, a lot went on in these training miles. Bare with me, I am still in a little bit of a fog because this morning I ran 23 miles.

Oh in case you over looked that and missed the post title...

23 MILES!!!!

Now most training plans don't call to do 23 miles, usually nothing over 20 BUT Jeff Galloway recommends it, his training sometimes even has you doing 29 for the elite runners. I follow is training plan called "Planned to Finish". He does having us run 26 in training and then the 26 on the marathon. While, I think that is a good idea, I really do, for me it doesn't work. One because the weeks don't seem to match up with tapering and two because, I only want to experience 26.2 miles at the marathon and that is it.

I want to run it once and once only.

I say this now, we'll see how I feel the days after the marathon when I am on a high ;0).

But in seriousness, I just wanted the one 26 miles for all kinds of reasons. I want to see my friends and family at the end, I want that emotion and everything, the highs and lows, the whole experience, there in that moment. So I decided the longest training mileage I will do will be 23. 23 felt like a healthy number.

20 was so hard for me, I knew I was going to have to do it at least 3 times, just so I can get over that mental block I had and I am so glad I did. It worked, it sucked really, really bad, but I got past that 20 and let me tell you, I knew I was going to finish this marathon in October, no doubt in my mind. Those 3.2 are going to be tough, especially with a hill at mile 24, but I am going to be feeding off the crowd and adrenaline on the day, so I just keep telling myself only 3.2 more to go.

Alrighty so this morning started off good. Last night for dinner, I had whole wheat pasta and turkey meatballs and a big salad. Made low calorie garlic bread and had some popcorn, dark chocolate raisins and some licorice while watching College Football. I know not the best choices in snacks, but come on, I was running 23 miles the next day and they did have carbs :0)

I got to bed around 10:30 after I used IcyHot on my legs. I was having some tightness in my left calve, but the icyhot helped a whole lot, even though the smell of the menthol made my BF sick lol. Also it makes you so relaxed, I know that is what helped me sleep.

I set my alarm for 4 and actually got up 20 minutes before and just laid there. I had all my gear laid out and ready to go, I just filled my water pack with NUUN fruit punch and water and my breakfast. I choose a Light English Muffin with PB because when I run the marathon, we are staying in a hotel and frozen waffles wont be an option, so I was thinking a bagel or English muffin, so perfect time to test it to make sure I would be okay with it.

The light English muffin was a little light, I did get hungry again pretty quick in the running, so I will go for a bagel the day of.

I had my Sharkie chews on my ride to downtown and the energy kicked in. I also took my multivitamin in a pill form, rather than my chews and I really think that helped too. I am switching back because of this, I felt a big difference. On my ride down, the classic rock station I listen too, played Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run.

Talk about a sign!!! I took it as a big one and instantly felt great.

I was the only one downtown at first and then this older lady, in her 80's for sure, pulled up and started running. I see her every time and she is such a motivation and inspiration to me. I mean if she could do it, I CAN DO IT. No complaints or excuses.

I felt really good this morning. The miles were a bit tough at first, but I know that is my body just warming up. Tears in Heaven came on right around mile 2 and it is my song to my dad and the wind picked up and I literally felt him with me. I mean I could see his face in my mind and his hug, it was amazing. I have felt little things here and there, or maybe I don't and just pretend I do, but today, today I could feel him in that song and in the air. It was like he was coaching me along. I blew a kiss to the sky and carried on. I felt him a lot in these miles, his birthday would be Friday and it would be a year from when I spread his ashes. See, these miles are made sense for me today.

I wasn't sure how I was going to do my route so much today. I knew I didn't want to go to south side and in the dark, so I knew I would have to do some loops. I sucked it up and just faced the facts and said, I wont be doing this mileage again down here again, the 23 that is, one time, lets just have fun with it. Plus I wanted to stay as close to bathrooms and water fountains as much as I could.

There was such a nice breeze for the first 3 hours, which was around 16 miles for me and then the evil sun came out and well it got hot and hot quickly. At mile 14.15 I stopped and peed and updated my Facebook haha.

I was having some leg pain for sure, my calves were so tight and my water intake was getting limited. The miles of 14-18 were kind of rough for me. I was so hot, my water was not hitting the spot. So I stopped again to use the restroom and splashed a ton of water on my face to get my body temp down a bit. And I stuck my head under the faucet and drank some water that way and filled up my pack yet again, 3rd time.

Can I say the one thing I hate about having to stop and pee or well other things is taking off my clothes. Jesus am I a sweaty mess, I mean I have to peel the clothes off of me and I am left in a puddle of sweat. It is quite gross, but well that's the course of action I am willing to take. I also stopped to stretch a bit, I never do that, but it was much needed. I was having a moment at these miles too. I even thought at one point, I could call James and he would come get me and I could go home and wallow in pain and call it a day and try again in two weeks.

BUT that is just your pain talking and I stopped that nasty talk. I would never give up unless I was in real, real pain. I don't know what that pain would be, but today was not that day. I was pushing through. I had noticed some friends had posted on my FB status and I looked at them in that moment. "Go Angie, You Can do It, Go Angie Go" It chocked me up, tears literally welled in my eyes and I pushed through. Those little words, were just what I needed.

For all these long runs, I have done then by myself. All the ones over 13. And that is okay, I love running by myself but these miles, just you and no talking, well it does wear a bit on you. So being able to look at my phone and see that, is just what I needed. I also ran past a guy and he gave me the biggest smile and a thumbs up. Sir, whoever you are, that little act of kindness and support will stay with me for life. That was what I needed. I run downtown so I can see that, so I can see other runners and gain support and motivation for them, even if we don't say a word to each other. I find people to chase and run beside or just fix on or pass, but those runners, they are my friends and we have never met.

A lot of things went on during those first 18-19. I came around a corner, thirsty of course and this girl was standing there with a water cooler and a sign. I thought for sure she was doing it for some training group. There a lot of group runs, so I thought she was just for them. She asked me if I would like a cold cup of water. I stared at her for a minute and asked "For Real." She smiled and handed me the cup of water.

I asked her what she was doing this for. She said, " My pastor at church says on Sundays people come when they need it the most, crave it, when they are down, so I run this area too and this is the point in my run, I need a cold cup of water the most, so I am here to help others to full fill their needs." I could have cried there but my tears were all just sweat. I told her that, thanked her and ran with the best cup of water ever. I told her I would see here when I turned around, she smiled and I know she knew she made someones day.

When I turned around at my turning point, she was no longer there. I wanted to hug her and take a picture with her, let her know she is awesome and helped me so much. But she was gone, no trace of her or anything. I wasn't running that long since then, but she was gone. Which, made me wonder, was she even really there. I know sounds crazy and cooky, but I mean things happen on these training runs, thoughts and images and all that, I guess I will never know. But that girl, she was an Angel with water for me for sure.

When I hit 20 miles, the tears started. I did it again, I got to 20 miles, hurting but I did. Sparks of energy came to me and I put on my determined face. I was going to finish. Mile 22, I started singing along to a song I was listening to. I mean crazy, I was running and singing, but I was trying to distract my brain for the pain and tiredness I was having and for how hungry I was. Hungry for cold water, powerade and a food item that was GU or chews. And Kelly Clarkson, Stronger came on, I never loved a song more then in that moment.

Then the 23 happened.

I stopped my Garmin and literally I burst into tears. I mean sobbing tears, snot coming out of my face, SOBBING. I don't know why but I couldn't stop it. I mean it was just so overwhelming. I finished the 23 miles. Despite the heat and sunburn I was having, the stomach issues, the water, the chaffing I was feeling in spots, the blisters on my feet. All of it, it was liked it bubbled up to the surface and just BAM.

I have to say it felt good to cry too. Happy tears, accomplished tears. Tears of joy and relief. I loved that cry. I wasn't crying in pain, but in satisfaction.

Training really does change it, it changes you into someone you never knew you were. I was the girl always trying to get out of gym class, or skipping the mile and here I am, training for a marathon, on my own, at my own pace, my own journey and I am really doing it.

I couldn't even do a video, I just wanted to stretch, eat and get home to James, whom I called sobbing too. I texted my favorite people and let my social network world I had done it and called my Mom. I downed my Powerade and ate my protein recovery bar, god did it taste great. I stepped inside at home and immediately started getting cold and cried some more with James, he made me my coffee and I just laid out and then got in the ice bath, which felt amazing by the way.

I have felt great today too. I wasn't too tired, usually I am so exhausted I can barely keep my eyes open, but today, something was different. I was different. I felt different. I felt like an athlete. I felt like a warrior, I felt pretty freaking bad ass.

We went out for lunch and I enjoyed a meal I never usually have, a meatball sub, with a side of greek potato salad and a peanut butter cookie, I shared that with James. Food and drinks taste so much better when you work really hard for them.

We went to Total Wine after, I wanted to treat myself to some beverages, I haven't really had this whole training. I am not done with training at all, but I wanted a treat, I feel I deprive myself a lot of things with food and drinks and well I want to stop that and enjoy this whole experience, reap the rewards at times. I picked up some Bud Light Fall AHHH Ritas and Skinny Girl Sweet-Rita. I love my rita drinks, probably the salt haha. Then we went to Target.

A little disappointed they didn't have all the pumpkin stuff I wanted, but I got some yogurts and some other goodies and then I needed to get home, my legs were really starting to hurt. I got home and passed out for a good 2 hour nap. Felt great. My hunger has been kind of quite too also today. I am sure it will hit me all week and tomorrow, which thankfully I am off. My night is just relaxing and the same tomorrow, no alarm set, no plans, and a recovery day for sure.

So what did I learn for 23 miles. I learned those miles make you. They can break  you down or you can learn from them, let the miles tell you a story, are some miles going to be better than others, for sure, but just know that you can do it. If I can do it, then you can do it. I am not an athlete or elite, I am a regular girl with a goal in mind and I am accomplishing it, no matter what it takes. I am determined and driven and those miles will not define who I am. Plus work your training, believe in yourself and your training, it will change you.

You will have moments of clarity and work life lessons out in those miles. Maybe once it is done you will forget some things, but it really does change you.

So here is to these sweet 23 miles, thank you for getting me here. I will never forget what you have given me.