All of this running has given me an inordinate amount of time to think, particularly about how badly things were going a few weeks ago. This is what I came up with...
It's good to have a buddy
Kat and I are not running together (in the literal sense - she's way too fast for me), but we are running the same race, so our training programs are in the same cycle. We started with a similar level of excitement and enthusiasm and then both hit a wall around the same time. She was struggling because she fell into a mountain and ripped up her face and knee; I was falling apart because brushing my teeth was exhausting. (I told you we are at different fitness levels). 6am boot camp was starting to look like a war zone medical clinic as Reinier moved from mat to mat, tending to various ailments. Kat and I exchanged a lot of nervous looks during those days. I think we were both thinking the same thing: how are we going to pull this off? Are we in over our heads? WHY are we doing this?
(or maybe I'm just thinking these things and she's thinking, "I'm really tired...why does Kim keep looking at me funny?")
Thankfully, time has a way of healing wounds, both psychic and physical. Walking out together after hill day today with her, I think we are both in a better place. Her leg healed. I finally got some sleep. We see the light at the end of the tunnel (just four weeks away!) and know we are going to make it. Hitting a wall together is certainly not advisable, but it made me feel less crazy. And while I'll be trailing her light on August 9, it's comforting to know she'll be out there with me.
Be Kind to Yourself
During my first 20-miler, I was inexplicably mean to myself. For no reason. I beat myself up all the way to Overlook Ascent (about 7.7 miles in), lambasting my pace, my form, my attitude. (isn't that counter-reflexive? ...my attitude is mad about my...attitude?) I worked myself into such a tizzy that at mile 16, I simply gave up. My left knee was in serious pain and mentally, I was done. Of course, at this exact moment, as I stood by the side of the road kicking tumble weeds and moments away from a full blown panic attack, I ran directly into Reinier and his friend. Talk about a hot mess. He graciously told me to end the run (thank GOODNESS!) and I limped back to my car, tail between my legs. I didn't say a word to Brian when I got home; I just plopped my sweaty, disgusting body on the couch and sat there silently, crying.
Ah, the drama. (poor, kind, patient Brian).
Eventually, I got up. And thought a lot about what went wrong. When I headed out last Saturday for my 18-miler, I decided I was going to do everything differently. First, I channeled my inner Princess Unikitty. No negativity. No bad thoughts. Only kindness. (positive, Positive, POSTIVE!) Second, I didn't look at my Garmin on the way up to Overlook; I was going to run on feel alone. And finally - this is big - if I needed to walk, I was going to - gulp - allow - deep breath - myself to - wait for it - walk.
Guess what? I arrived at the Overlook in exactly the same time I had during my 20, just with a totally different attitude and a lot more gas in the tank. Even though I walked a little.
Mind = blown.
I was a delightfully happy runner by the time reached my break at mile 14.5. I refilled my hydration pack (good-bye stupid, heavy hydration belt!), noshed on some watermelon, and stared at the cyclists whizzing by. The remaining 3.5 miles were no picnic, but at least my head was in the game. Just the repetition of telling myself, "Just three more feet. Three more feet," helped. (thank you, Murakami. That's one of his tricks). I finally stopped focusing on time and just ran. It was a HUGE mental milestone to complete that 18 successfully. HUGE.
Reinier likes to say there's a lot of freedom in acceptance, and he's right. (he's getting a lot of mentions in this entry; clearly I've been listening and trying to absorb all his wisdom). During our trip to Utah, I thought a lot about acceptance; accepting the pain that will come with the race, accepting that training is going to cause me to miss out on fun stuff. Accepting that I'm a different person (and becoming more and more different...) as I continue doing this. And that's okay. I was expending a great deal of energy trying to remain the same - and do everything, despite all of the changes - and it was exhausting.
On a strictly logistical standpoint, I also realized that this summer has been one of the busiest of my life. Volunteering heavily for two non-profits, traveling, keeping a four-year old happy and busy (why did I not sign him up for summer camps?!), maintain the house AND train for this race - in the dead of summer - has been extraordinarily taxing. In a way I did not anticipate. (I'm going to be so bored come fall). But once I accepted that yes, this is a crazy time of year and training is only making it more crazy - it felt less overwhelming. Acceptance IS freedom.
So there you have it. One trip to Utah, a few watermelon slushies later, and a solid 18-miler under my belt and I'm a new woman. I'm actually looking forward to my 20/10 run this weekend because I feel like my head is finally in the game. Let's do this!
Watermelon Slushy Recipe, courtesy of Kerry
Throw a bunch of cut watermelon into the blender with ice and a squeeze of lemon juice (lime works in a pinch, too). Blend until slushy. Enjoy, because it's AMAZING!