“I am woman! I am invincible! I am pooped!”
Today I continued my quest toward running a full marathon! I figured it would be a good day for a long run because I have not run much this week and will be working the next two days without a lot of other opportunity to get mileage in. Earlier this week I had attempted a light, fast paced run; but my body was not cooperating, and I ended up at the gym instead. I was a little disappointed, but got some solace in the fact that I survived 15-whole-minutes on the stair climber- which I hate more even more than push ups (and that is saying a lot!).
None-the-less, I wanted to make up for my less than par workout and gain some ground. I got up early and straightened up the house a little before setting out. It was still cool and looked like it was shaping up to be a beautiful day. I headed over to the Bridle Trail, a relatively flat, gravel path not far from my house. I had not been there in several months, and thought it would be a nice change in scenery. The trail runs through the woods, so it stays well shaded and keeps the temperature significantly cooler than running on the road. I was actually a little chilly when I started, but quickly warmed up as I settled into my pace. I chose my beat up asics over my vibrams because I don’t like running over gravel (or pavement) in toe shoes.
Not long into my run, I was greeted by another runner with a happily meandering chocolate lab in toe. His companion lagged behind him enough to keep me company for a while before he wandered off again with his owner. I made a mental note to start bringing my lab, Penny, out on more of my short runs. (I used to run with her regularly; however, now that she is getting older, her endurance is not what it used to be. )
I had set the timer on my phone (which I use as an ipod) to alarm after an hour and forty-five minutes figuring I would just turn around and run back. I hoped to be able to cover at least 15 miles in that amount of time. For most of the way out I felt terrific. I soaked in the beautiful views and wondered why anyone would run on the road when they could have a much more peaceful and splendid backdrop. I was so absorbed in my surroundings that it felt like no effort at all, and I started to think that running a marathon would not be that difficult. I frequently joke to Adam that “running on a flat surface is easy. I could run forever it’s flat.”
I was just beginning to believe my jest was true when I brushed my hand across my leg and realized I couldn’t feel it. In fact, I could not feel anything from the small of my back down. I wondered if this was what an epidural felt like. Like any other endurance athlete (and I use that term loosely), I figured that if I ignored it long enough, it would just go away. Besides, I wasn’t having any pain. I tuned it out and kept going, but it didn’t go away. Instead, it got worse. Then my back and legs started to hurt. I looked at the time. I had only been running an hour! This was disheartening. I wondered if my asics were a bad choice. Yet, I kept running because it was not just about the mileage- it was about training my body to keep going when it didn’t want to. I knew I would have to get used to this feeling if I was going to get through over 26 miles.
By the time I was ready to turn around and head back, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to move my legs. I was afraid to stop and walk, convinced that I would not be able to get my body to run again. I began to doubt my ability to complete this task, and kicked myself for adding an additional 15 minutes each way. At times, I was distracted by butterflies and bright yellow birds who seemed to follow me along with curiosity. There were also a wide variety of wild flowers in white, purple, and yellows abutting the tree line. I tried to concentrate on the scenery: a lovely pond, tall fields, small cottages. However, my legs were aching and numb. I didn’t think it was right that they could be both at the same time. I kept plodding and hoping the time would go by quickly.
When I finally reached a stretch of the trail I remembered from early in my run I was elated- only to be crushed again by the long stretch before the next familiar site. I thought it was funny how quickly I went from feeling like I could run forever to feeling like I had been running forever. I dreaded the idea of doing this for over 5 hours and began to question why I ever thought it would be a good idea. Maybe I was capable of running 10 or 15 K thanks to my vibrams, but this was starting to seem insane.
Then, before I knew it, I was back at the 2 mile mark. I remembered how I used to struggle to run from my car to this spot and back when I was first breaking in my toe shoes. Now it seemed like such a small distance! Over and over in my head I chanted “TWO MORE MILES, JUST TWO MORE MILES!!!!” I kept pushing; my body kept trying to quit. I wanted to finish running, not walking. I continued to drag myself until the sites became more familiar; and, finally, I knew I was almost there. I dragged myself all the way back to the car, and a funny thing happened. I didn’t die. I didn’t fall over. I didn’t even throw up! Instead I drove myself home and tried to stretch- until my lap was filled with a very happy lab and bulldog.