Thursday, February 28, 2013

I've got this!

OK, so after my last post about marathon training, I spent the next few days consumed with fear.  I read other bloggers' accounts of the marathons they have completed with panic rising in my chest.  I let my mind run wild with self-doubt and negative questions. What did I sign up for?!  Why would I ever think I could actually do this?  I don't even want to run for 26.2 miles!

But then, as these things tend to work out, the clouds parted and I began to feel OK again.  It didn't happen immediately, but over a period of a few days I began to feel better.  I stopped reading the race recaps on my favorite blogs with fear and read them with excitement instead.  I began to talk to my friends who are also running the VT marathon, and I started to imagine myself crossing that finish line on race day.  Then, last Saturday, I ran my 12 mile long run.  It was pretty cold outside and very windy.  I ran with three other women that I run with regularly, two of whom are also regsitered for the VT marathon.  One is a first-timer like me and the other has completed two other marathons.  So, we met early on Saturday and pounded out 12 miles.  Seriously, we pounded them out.  It wasn't overly difficult, even though the wind was brutal, and I didn't struggle with the run at any point.  It was just a typical weekend long run.  Later in the day, one of my running buddies sent me a text telling me that she felt surprisingly good after the run, and I replied with "me too!"  And, that's when it all came together for me.  Over the past 2.5 years, I have been building myself up as a runner.  I have gone from running 1.5 miles with great difficulty to being permanently trained for a half marathon (that was my goal last year and I accomplished it).  At this point, I can easily run 11 - 13 miles on a weekend long run and not even feel it.  That's quite an accomplishment in 2.5 years.  So, there's no reason to doubt my ability to run 26.2.  Will it be tough?  I'm sure it will.  Will I struggle?  I'm sure I will.  Can I do it?  Absolutely!

So much of half and full marathon training is mental.  If you put in the miles each week, your body will be able to make it through the distance at the end.  But, training is more than physically training your body.  It's really about training your mind.  Ask anyone who has struggled through an "easy" three mile run.  There is so much doubt that creeps into your mind when you are training for something like this.  There are so many moments on a long (or short) run when you feel like you can't keep going.  When you doubt yourself as a runner.  Those are the moments that we dig deeper and find something in ourselves that we thought wasn't there.  There's no greater feeling than finishing a difficult run and knowing that you kept running even when you felt like you couldn't.  Sure, there are plenty of physical struggles that runners endure - calf cramps, side cramps, knee pain, dehydration, bathroom issues, etc. - but the mental challenges are the ones that shake us at our core.  Those are the challenges that require us to go deep inside ourselves and find something that will help us endure.  That something is different for everyone, but the challenge is the same.

I know that I will continue to struggle through the rest of my marathon training.  I will have bad runs and good runs. I will have days when I am terrified about the upcoming race and  days when I can't wait for it to get here.  I will continue to doubt myself and be plagued with negative thoughts.  But, I will also discover a strength in myself that I don't always remember is there.  I will push myself to the edge, and find a way to keep going.  I will embrace my mental demons and find ways to overcome them.  By the time I cross that finish line, I know that I will be better because of it...all of it...the good and bad.  That's what running has done for me.  It has taught me to persevere and face my fears head on.  It has taught me that I am capable.  It has taught me that the struggle is part of the journey and that it is up to me to carry on.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Year of the Marathon

Yes, I am still writing.  I'm easing in slowly as I figure out where I'm going with this blog.  I do know that the name and domain is going to change, but I'm not sure when.  I'm taking things one step at a time.  In fact, that's how I'm living the rest of my life right now.  I'm in the process of researching and planning for some (hopefully) big changes that will allow me to actually do what I want to do.  But, it's going to be a long process (1 - 2 years), so I'm learning to take things one step at a time.  It requires a lot of legwork and planning, so I'm focusing on that right now.  For me, 2013 is definitely the year of refocusing, planning and moving forward.  I feel so excited and nervous about the direction I'm going.  It's exactly what I need to be doing.

On the health and fitness front, 2013 is shaping up to be a pretty big year as well.  It's the year I'm finally going to complete a full marathon! This one, in fact:

The Vermont City Marathon was featured in the January 2013 Runner's World marathon guide as being a great fast, family friendly race.  I had already registered for the marathon when the article came out, but I was excited to see that I made the right choice.  Burlington, VT is about 50 minutes away, so it's an easy race for me to get to.  

I'm already registered and the training plan is attached to my refrigerator.  I'm already a few weeks in and I'm already experiencing all of the emotions that come along with training for something new and exciting and BIG!  I'm fluctuating between complete fear and total confidence.  I'm constantly questioning how I'm going to run for 26.2 miles while simultaneously envisioning myself crossing the finish line.  But, most of all, I just keep reminding myself that each distance has seemed daunting when I first set out to conquer it.  After all, I think I was most nervous about my first 5K.

Wow...look how far I've come.

The other day, one of my facebook friends posted the following inspirational picture and I immediately shared it with others.  This is exactly how I am feeling right now.  I know it's time for me to conquer the marathon, even if many of my waking moments are spent doubting my ability to actually do so.

That's the beauty of this sport.  There are tangible results that go beyond body size or weight loss.  There's the excitement of running a new distance for the first time.  There's the feeling of fulfilment you get after completing an event that you were terrified of completing (Ragnar, anyone?).  There's the constant knowledge that if you just keep running, you'll reach a distance that at one point seemed impossible.

So, this is it.  The year that I conquer the marathon.  I'm sure I'll be talking about it a lot in this space.  I hope you don't get sick of me :)