Today's run was remarkable. 14 miles. I was pretty amazed and pleased with myself. I ran those 14 miles like a boss. When I started off I was pretty nervous. Last week was 11.5 miles that I did mostly on my own. That makes a 2.5 mile increase and I knew I would be doing ALL of it by myself.
I started off early because I was going to need to be home earlier than usual to keep an eye on the kids. When I was ready to go it was darker outside than I felt comfortable with. I am extremely nervous about running outside by myself. Some pepper spray might help with those nerves but I'd still rather not put myself in what I feel like is a dangerous position. Anyway, once I saw how dark it still was I decided to run the first three miles on the treadmill and then do the rest outside. As it became apparent that I would not be able to finish all of my run outside before I needed to be home to watch children I decided to just do all the run on the treadmill. That would also allow me to take a short break anytime I needed to run upstairs and grab myself another bottle of Gatorade. I went through three (or was it four?) of them, as well as most of a water-filled Gatorade bottle. Running is thirsty work.
During the run I discovered that our treadmill stops itself off when it reaches 100 minutes. I worried that I had burned it out or something but it went on running just fine once I selected a speed again. Even though I had several little stops during the run I am so proud of how I did. I kept up a good pace and I kept going when I wanted to be done. Two and a half hours is a long time to run.
After the run was done I was shocked to realize that my body felt really good. I had taken a couple of pain pills with caffeine in them (LOVE those pills) to keep from feeling the intense pain I'd had in my ankles after last week's long run. I'm sure the pills helped with how I felt. As I stretched my muscles I marveled at how unfatigued my legs were and how not painful my joints were. It was pretty great. Then I stood up. MOTHER MINE!!! Ow! OW!!! OOOOOOWWW!!!!! The middle of my heels, which have been troublesome for quite some time, protested when I stood up. They hurt a lot so I stretched them some more and they felt much better. When I was all done The Hubs went out to do his yard work and I took over the watching of the children. Sort of.
Not long after my husband went outside (he also took the two oldest with him) I had a recurrence of the intestinal troubles that plagued me for several weeks. I thought I'd gotten over them because I had two weeks of no troubles after the long run. It's pretty horrible. I've spent more than an hour in the bathroom since finishing my run and that was less than four hours ago. There are frequent trips to go sit on the porcelain throne. I really hate it.
Along with the intestinal distress I was unhappy to experience chafing beyond anything I've had before. One of my exercise shirts rubs my arm and I have stopped wearing it to run. Today I touched the bare skin on my back to see what was feeling strange there and I was met with a fair amount of pain. Ooooh, it hurt. A lot. The waistband of my running shorts (which I have been running in regularly for over a year and irregularly for a few years before that) left two long strips of rubbed-off skin. Ow. Not cool, running shorts. Not cool. Once I took my shower I also discovered, thanks to the warm water hitting it, that my sports bra had also left a spot of chafed-off skin. So basically my back is one big welt and it hurts to wear clothes.
If you have held on and read this far it's time to get honest again, as I promised myself I would. It's possible that I'm done. Well, that I'll be done as soon as I finish the half marathon I signed up for. It's in three weeks. As I was sitting in the bathroom suffering from intestinal distress and rubbed-off skin I said to myself that I don't want to do this anymore. The only times I've ever felt so strongly that I didn't want to do something were all when I was in labor and about to give birth. I get that feeling whether or not I'm medicated--it's just an inescapable part of the process of transition and every mom I know of goes through it with each birth. I sat there in agony and wondered why people (myself included) are dumb enough to choose to train for marathons. If it were just sore muscles and joints I'd be able to cope. That's exactly what I've done for months now. But the idea of feeling like this for another ten weeks is almost more than I can bear. The sick really is horrible.
There's a part of me that hates the idea of "giving up". There's another part of me that tells me I'm freaking amazing and that what I've done is sufficient to prove to me that I've done what I set out to do. I feel like I do when I'm on the treadmill and debating with myself whether or not I should slow the pace. The is always a conflict of thought that goes back and forth between "if I keep up this speed I'll finish faster" and "if I slow down I'll run longer but I'll feel better in the rest of the time I have left". The second one usually wins because it will only add a minute or two onto the time and I'll feel good instead of cruddy for the 10-20 minutes still left to run. It all comes back to if it's worth it or not. I mentioned in another post that included wanting to quit that I wasn't sure if, come marathon day, I would be disappointed for not doing it or if I would do a happy dance that I hadn't chosen to subject myself to that kind of torture. On a somewhat related note, every new school year I do a happy dance knowing that I'm no longer teaching. There's an enormous amount of relief associated with thinking training will be completely done in three weeks rather than having ten more weeks of misery. There is also some disappointment in myself in the thought of stopping, though that feeling isn't nearly so strong.
One thing that has kept me going when I wanted to stop was my desire to prove to everyone that this is something I can do. I'm very stubborn and one of the best ways to encourage me to do something is to tell me I can't. No one has told me I can't or vocally expressed doubts, but I'm self-conscious enough to believe that if I quit something there will be some jerk out there feeling smug and pleased to see me fail. I talked to the Hubs about my thoughts. He has been enormously supportive of my marathon training. I never would have gotten this far without his efforts and encouragement. He, more than anyone else, is the one I don't want to disappoint. I was completely honest about what I'm thinking and why. I told him I didn't know what I thought he'd say or even what I wanted him to say. Smart man that he is, he spent a while thinking before saying things to suggest that he'd be fine with either choice. I wasn't asking him to make the decision for me and he didn't. He knows me so well. :)
So right now I feel comfortable with saying that my training will be finished after I run the Mt. Nebo half marathon in three weeks. Is that a permanent decision? I don't know. It's amazing to me that my muscles and joints can stand up so beautifully to 14 miles of running but the aftermath with my digestive tract is enough to leave me moaning and miserable. As I've been typing my body has started to recover and the sick is going away. Huzzah! That may also be because I've been sitting still and it could come back with a vengeance as soon as I stand up. Not looking forward to testing that thought. When my body feels better I'm less likely to want to stop. The difference with what I'm feeling in this very moment as I type is that if I stop with the half marathon that I won't be quitting, just stopping. Perhaps that's a fine line but, again, at this very moment, my mind doesn't immediately reject the thought as it usually would. Right now what I have done feels...sufficient. That's the best way to describe it. It's the same way I felt at the end of my mission as I pondered whether I had been diligent enough and worked hard enough.
I am helped along with the sufficiency thought by what felt right as I was registering for races this week. I really wanted to sign up for the Mt. Nebo half. I expected to run that with my running buddies. They won't be running it because they've got other things going on in their lives. Imagine that. :) I still wanted to do it and I was excited to sign up. So I did. I went to register for the full marathon because the price was going up. I couldn't do it. I felt like I shouldn't do it yet. So I didn't. I was even feeling really confident about the marathon that day. Whether that was an impression or not, I simply don't know. I'm not yet ready to say that this is as far as the marathon training will take me but, as of today, it's looking that way. If that's disappointing to you then I apologize. If you feel smug about it then please keep your feelings and looks to yourself or I may have to blow a raspberry in your general direction. In the end I'll make the decision I think is best and makes me feel peace. That's what I always do. We'll see what exactly that decision is.