As the title suggests, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching and head examining in the past few days. To be fair, it was largely brought on by my longest run to-date (again) on Saturday. I’ve come to the conclusion that Forest Gump’s mama really was right – and my nearest and dearest are under strict instructions to try harder to talk me out of my next bright idea.
I managed 21.3 miles on Saturday but it was hard. I know I probably sound repetitive here, but the miles are taking their toll me on me now. When I managed 19 miles the previous weekend it hurt. It got to a point where my feet hurt, every muscle screamed with each step and even my jiggly bits hurt as they jiggled (Yes, despite there being less of them!). It was really tough, really hard, but I did it and felt buzzed. I then got up and ran seven miles the following day.
This week I think I let myself down mentally before I had even begun, and think I let the enormity of it all get to me. I focused on the distance I had to run, and not on taking it one mile at a time.
I set off with tight tight muscles down beside my shins and couldn’t get them to relax until beyond five miles. At that point they relaxed only to start tightening from the run itself. I couldn’t get my headphones comfortable, my shirt was uncomfortable and I was hot. It wasn’t a good way to start and didn’t improve much…
I purposely made sure I stopped to refuel properly – with dried nuts and apricots as well as the two gels I’d brought with me – and my amazing partner rode beside me with two bottles of water/electrolytes. Despite all this, I hit the wall at about mile 14. I couldn’t work out how to put one foot in front of another, I was so tired, so sore, so thirsty and just despairing.
He cajoled me, bullied me, reassured me and encouraged me to keep going. He even got off his bike and ran beside me, behind me and ahead of at times so I wasn’t alone. I remember watching him in front of me and whimpering that I couldn’t go on. But I did.
Long and winding road…
There was one particular road which is a long steady incline and lasts for 1.1 miles. It’s my nemesis, and on this particular occasion hit me at about 15.5 miles. It hurt!
Perhaps most concerning however was that at about 19 or 20 miles I lost it, in the same way I did one mile before the end of the Cumbrian Run (half marathon) two years ago. I thought I’d resolved my dehydration and lack of food issues, but apparently not, and the psycho, angry, delirious Emily came out. Fortunately D has learned, and didn’t rise – instead choosing to keep an eye on me after returning and ensure I ate etc – but it meant I was floored the following day too. I’m not sure if it’s perhaps salt I’m lacking? It’s something to look into urgently.
And so, it meant I struggled to do my medium run on the Sunday, instead opting to try and recover. I did 7.3 miles this morning though, and will once again run home from work tomorrow.
All in all it’s got me thinking and the reality is, I don’t think I’m quite as mentally strong as I always thought I was. I knew this would be a physical challenge, but it seems it is probably going to be equally as tough – if not tougher – on my mind.
I decided I needed to find a way to refocus my mind, but wasn’t sure how.
And, then on Sunday I got a message from Rach. She was on day five of her last round of chemotherapy and was worrying about taking the tablets in case they made her sick (a mega anti-sickness tablet wore off that morning). Here was this brave, incredible woman talking about her mental battle over the tablets and then giving herself a shake and a talking too and taking them regardless of what might happen. If she can fight that, I too can find a way through.
And so bring on Saturday’s 23 miles!