Last year at this time, I was coming up on 15-16 mile runs and was just plain scared. Scared about the training distances,scared about the running schedule during heavy work travel, scared about cramps, tendonitis, fatigue, and just basically scared that I wouldn’t be able to finish the actual marathon. This year, with one marathon in the bank, Janet and I both know we can get to the finish line. This year, it’s more about “finesse.” Or, maybe not finesse, actually. Maybe more like an “organized” finish. And, by that, I mean my body being more organized in receiving motion signals from my brain, getting my feet in front of each other without flailing around and shuffling through the finish. We’re aiming for “strong” finishes. I’m not sure we’ve defined exactly what that means – we’re allowing the training to help sort that out. “Strong” might mean faster, or less dilly dallying at the water stops, or a pacing plan by intervals, or whatever. I’m not sure yet.
But, this week was a real test for us both. Janet in is the midst of the THE busiest two weeks of her year – long work days, every day, managing a million things at once. That she can even think about scheduling a long run with me is a testament to her strength. I did a round trip – late night drive – from ME to PA and back to pick up Ellie from the Poconos, to get her back in time to have 48 hrs to say hi, do laundry, repack, and leave to drive back to PA for her 3rd year of college. Plus, I had work when I wasn’t driving to and from PA. And I was fighting a cold at the end of the week. I was feeling a bit pressed, to say the least. I had to toughen up to get it all done.
As a side note, knowing that I had a challenging week and heavy workload in Maine, I did manage to crank out a run in PA. My hotel was in the middle of a very busy area, no safe opportunity to run on a road and the treadmills were all being used. So, I went outside and took advantage of the hotel being part of a huge office park and I just looped up/down/around all the parking lots until I got some miles done. I had some time in between my run and when Ellie was free to get picked up, so I hit the diner across the street – this place:
Just the right breakfast for a full week and long drive ahead.
Back home, I had packed work days and then had to swing by the hardware store to buy a maul. I had been borrowing Janet’s but I had to return it and I still needed one at my place. (Who knew so many outdoor projects would require a maul? But many do.)
I asked the sales guy at the True Value to show me where the mauls were located. This is how the conversation went:
Him: “You want a maul?”
Him: “Not an axe?”
Me: “An axe would be OK, but I really need a maul.”
We go to where they are located… and he looks at me…
Him: “Are you the one swinging it?”
Him: “Well, we have several sizes…” as he rests his hand on the small one.
I pulled out the one I wanted. What I really wanted to say as a follow up was this:
ME: “Dude. I obliterated the pounding block pounding a 4 ft mailbox stake into the ground with a MAUL like THIS. This is the damage I can do when I swing a MAUL this THIS SIZE. Dude.”
(Evidence of my toughness below:)
Today, Janet and I planned to run long. I hadn’t been sleeping well and I don’t think Janet has been sleeping at all… Still trying to get rid of the cold, I had to load up with cold medicine before heading out. We stayed together for about 6 miles and then broke up to follow different routes/distances. Each of us in our heads. Each of us trying to catch up in training. Each of us trying to shake off a crazy week and figure out how to manage the day ahead, whatever planned and unplanned challenges might arise. At mile 13, I was hoping someone would drive by and offer me a ride. (No luck.) By mile 14, I was determined to get to mile 16. It was tough, but I finished. (Actually, I finished at 15.9, but I’m giving myself the .1 in mileage on account of the cold medicine. 🙂 )
I plopped in the ice bath, got out, and got on with my day.
What I have learned in marathon prep, but also as it applies to life, is that however tough I think I need to be, I might need to be tougher than that. And I can be that tough.