Adversity

16 Apr

I thought I would be writing a post about conquering another personal distance record yesterday—about setting out to run 20 miles (the marathon test run, in a way) and crushing it.

But I’m not writing that post.

I thought I would be writing a post about being disappointed that we quit with just 5 miles to go—about feeling like a failure, feeling unprepared, wondering how, if I can’t complete 20 miles, then I can’t possibly complete a marathon.

But I’m not writing that post, either.

I’m writing a post about facing Mother Nature head on, running my goal race pace or better through 10 miles and listening to my body.

20-mile route

Christopher and I did everything right—or at least, we thought we did everything right.

We went to bed at a reasonable hour, we had a good breakfast and we plotted a new route that forced us to run home. We had the online editor from the newspaper with us to document our journey for our blog, The Sole Goal, and its accompanying video series; he dropped us off and then followed us in his car to key points along the way.

We cruised through the first 5 miles, no problem: we were doing 10-minute miles! We coasted as best we could through the second 5 miles, too. But we had run through 25-mile-per-hour winds and 80-90 percent humidity, mostly uphill. We were sapped of energy, and we were out of water.

Our bodies started to break down from sheer dehydration between the 11- and 12-mile mark. Our feet, ankles and legs aches. Our mouths felt like sandpaper. Our heads felt cloudy.

I had filled up my FuelBelt, which holds 16 ounces of water. We sipped a bit every time we took in fuel; I snuck a few sips in between, too. We both only sort of realized that 2 cups of water is not nearly enough for two people over 20 miles, but we failed to account for the fact that we wouldn’t be running past a bubbler (excuse me, water fountain) or swinging home to drop off the dog and grab a gulp of water, like we usually did during our long runs.

We had doomed ourselves to fail and we didn’t even know it. But we put our ego aside, admitted defeat and called it quits at 15. We didn’t want to risk injury or illness in favor of bragging rights or for the sake of sticking to the training plan.

20 miler

We aren’t failures because we didn’t complete our longest training run; we’ve put in about 400 miles over the last 15 weeks and haven’t missed a single workout to date.

We aren’t failures because we stopped with 5 miles left; we finished 15 miles in some of the toughest conditions (completely opposite of those for the Oshkosh Half Marathon one year ago) yet and even ran the first 10 at a clip I hope to replicate on race day.

We aren’t failures. We’re success stories because we dared to even put one foot in front of the other.

I’m ready to taper. I’m ready to scale back the miles and rest up for the main event May 5. I’m ready to put confidence in my training and let it—and God—carry me through the biggest challenge of my life.

Here’s the video from yesterday. I think it’s one of the best in the series—maybe because someone else filmed it and added some pizazz to it, but maybe because we’re completely and totally honest and vulnerable.

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