Despite my fervent proclamation in late 2013 that I would never again run another marathon, that marathons are stupid, and I wouldn’t waste my time running for hours I find myself once again in the thick of marathon training. I cringe a little at the irony of tackling this challenge a second time after so publicly declaring my hatred of marathon training during my first effort. After the Montreal Marathon I thought I would hang up my sneakers for a while and ride my bike instead, sit on a yoga mat for a bit, do anything besides racing. Do ANYTHING besides running.
Towards the end of 2014, with another super go ’round of Golden Triangle, an anticlimactic ATLS, completing but not racing L2R, I decided to shake the snow globe up and make some new athletic goals for 2015. Scary ones. Goals that would push me into training, get my heart racing, and challenge me in a way I hadn’t been before. Among these goals was to tackle another marathon. More than running another marathon, I planned to decimate my old PB, but most importantly, I planned to keep my mind in tact. I had a spectacular blow out during the Montreal Marathon that was humbling, a weakening of the mind that my father would call “being a mental midget ” or my husband would call “being a mental milkshake”. (Hint: these are not proud nor desirable).
I historically have considering myself: 1. Cyclist 2. Triathlete 3. Athlete and somewhere way on down the line, oh, maybe at 41. Runner. I have a myriad of excuses why this is so: my thighs are too big and rub together (that’s not a joke), I’m not built to be a good runner (seen the pros? There is a reason they are all under 5’5 and stick skinny) and I only marginally enjoy it. When I recount those reasons out loud to people they often ask: why would you do it then?
When I ride a bike (this includes my road bike, my mountain bike, my cruiser bike) I have a 9 in 10 enjoyment rate. It doesn’t matter if I ride my cruiser bike to the local pub, or ride my road bike 100 miles, my enjoyment, fun, happiness quotient is very high. 9 in 10 rides, no matter the location, bike or distance are awesome. When I swim the rate is similar, likely an 8 in 10 enjoyment rate. Most swims are awesome. A couple will be crappy for various reasons: sore shoulders, poor rhythm or a general sense of being uncoordinated. With running I have figured out my enjoyment rate is about 3 in 10.
3 in 10. A very pathetic 30%. This percentile is a failing grade for most everything I can think of in life. I thought about this blog for days and I couldn’t come up with an example where this might be an acceptable number. When I was running long on Tuesday morning (for now we are in countdown mode for Ottawa Marathon) I struggled and struggled to explain in my head why I keep running when the number is so pathetically low. While seven runs are full of struggle, three are really special.
7 in 10 runs have looked something like this: I am sick, I am frustrated, I am juggling my demanding schedule, my husbands demanding schedule, dealing with a puppy full of stitches, and an ill family member. Excuses, excuses, excuses. I am moving runs around to get them done, running Friday and Saturday nights at times when the first opening presents itself. I have run through three business trips. I have run in -37C and 35C; I have stopped short of my prescribed distance on two long runs and thrown up on a short. I ran 25 minutes when I was supposed to run 75, I deviated a run to chase after my dog who was chasing deer, I tripped over a log and opened up my right knee one Saturday when I wasn’t paying attention. The word “misery” comes to mind when I think of this batch of marathon training.
3 in 10. Three runs where the legs turn over with effortless grace, three runs where breathing and running and being is easy, three runs where running is the most magical of activities. Three runs where I feel so connected to the universe and so drawn to the activity I cannot fathom not running another marathon. Three runs where I feel a sense of giddy drunkenness upon completion, a high like flying. Three runs where I feel so full of gratitude for being alive and healthy and able I could burst.
Given the number of times of weekly running, I spend more time than not in ugly run zone vs. amazing run zone. In the 7 in 10 I work to stay form-focused, I work to stay mentally engaged, I work to stay with the activity. If it happens to be a 3 in 10, lucky me.
Countdown to my second (but likely not last) marathon and every run counts towards my goal. Keeping my head straight continues to be my biggest challenge and single largest frustration. With this frustration the knowledge I am building my mental arsenal for sport. I am also building my mental arsenal for life.