Why does it feel like I cheated?

As many of you know, our marathon training program called for 18 miles this past weekend.  (Thank you Mama K for the shout out yesterday and congrats again to Gina, Jaime, and Denise for gettin’ it done!!!!)  The weight of this impending run was much heavier to carry this around with me all week for several reasons.  

To begin, Mother Nature’s temper tantrum and 10 inches of snow had us all plotting and worrying and mapping potential 18 mile routes over and over again.  Where can we go that is safe?  Not too many hills?  Not too repetitive?  Not on Saturday when Mother Nature’s hissy-fit continued and wet snow continued to fall?  Like a Dr. Seuss book, we lamented:  

I do not wish to run up that hill.  

I do not want to take a spill.  

I wish to run when the sky is blue.  

I want to run, not alone, but with you.   

Secondly, our 17 mile run that we completed 2 weeks ago was the WORST RUN OF MY LIFE! I was sick two days before it and my body did not want to cooperate.  I felt dizzy and my legs did not want to move from mile 6 to mile 17.  Every step of the last 11 miles was hard fought and exhausting.  I am not proud to admit that I called my husband at mile 15 and cried.  Actual tears.  This experience planted a seed of doubt in my mind as to whether I am capable of completing 26.2 miles.  The seed took root and grew over these last 2 weeks into a Red Wood sized tree of doubt.

Lastly, February and early March are the busiest of times in our household.  Figuring out when I was going to have enough time to actually do this run was exceptionally burdensome this go-round.  Remember those problem solving exercises- If Susie can’t sit next to Jimmy on a Saturday but can sit next to him on Sunday but only when he is wearing a blue shirt and only if she is holding a Schnauzer, when can Susie run 18 miles….?

So the weekend finally comes- Jaime and Denise check the box on Friday afternoon with a well planned run through local developments and golf courses.  Gina plans her miles on the treadmill around her CrossFit Open Competition (yes, she’s doing THAT TOO)!!!!! And I continue to buffer like that little thing on your computer screen when the internet just won’t connect.  

My schedule decides for me that my run will be 7am Sunday morning.  Saturday night I do a little driving around and kind of plan out a route.   I lay my clothes out including gloves, hooded sweatshirt, ear band- all the cold weather stuff that I CANNOT wait to pack away.  I set my alarm.  It is finally decided.

Well, after waking up every 45 minutes all night, I got out of bed before my alarm went off and started getting ready.  Something happened to me that very seldom happens.  I got scared.  Not just nervous, not the normal pre-run anxiety, but gut-wrenching, hand shaking, stop me dead in my tracks fear.  I was scared of cars because there is still considerable snow along the roads.  I was scared of hills because I really hate them and there were many on my planned route.  (Which was not really planned,)  I was scared that the windy conditions would dehydrate me and make this run so hard that I couldn’t do it.  I was scared because it wasn’t quite light yet and I was heading out alone.  I was just scared that I could not complete this run.

The good news is that I had a viable alternative- my ol’ reliable treadmill in the basement.  I stripped off the outerwear and headed down the flight of steps to get started.  You may be thinking, “I could never run 18 miles on the dreadmill!  How awful!  How boring!  That sounds like torture!”  

But as I made the decision, these were not the thoughts going through my head.  I actually felt bad about myself because I was giving into my fears.  I felt as if I was wimping out.  I felt weak.  I felt like I was cheating.  I felt like a climate controlled, indoor environment with no wind and no hills and the distraction of the TV was a cop-out.

This feeling stayed with me for about 16 miles.  Even after I fried my iPod with my sweat (yup- it’s broken), even after consistently beating my goal pace, even after going through 5 paper towels to wipe my brow, I was feeling like I failed.  I cheated.  Like it didn’t count.

Then, in those last two miles, real life started to seep back in.  I got a text from a friend reminding me to fill out a waiver for the birthday party my son was attending in an hour.  I got a text from hubby asking what we needed from the grocery store – he would be there in just a few minutes.   At 9:35, I got a text from another friend confirming that we were meeting at 10am. What? And then, Yes, oh yes, I will see you soon.  Those last two miles became both literally and figuratively, a sprint to the finish.  

I am thankful for those last frenzied minutes because as is often true, clarity is found among the chaos.  Every step, of every run, regardless of where it is, regardless of how far you’ve gone- is a cause for celebration.  Every minute a busy woman finds time (or schedules/plans/creates) to realize her goals is nothing short of spectacular.  We need to be thankful for the ability and opportunity to move our bodies- every time.  Feeling like a failure no more, I bounded up that flight of steps with a smile and a renewed sense of confidence that I will indeed finish that 26.2!!

Run happy- and hopefully with a lot less stress!









-Mama D


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