I came up with that title up there at about mile 16.5 of my 18-mile run today.
I think I’ve told you that I’m running the Houston Marathon in January. In case I haven’t, here you go: I am running the Houston Marathon in January.
That means I am currently in the thick of training for it. Marathon training, as it turns out, is constant. It never stops. You finish a long training run, take a couple of days and start again. I feel like all I ever do is run.
Because of the relentless nature, I do seem to be be approaching readiness. I ran 17 miles last weekend and it was Hard, but not impossible. For the first time, 26.2 miles didn’t seem undoable. I was encouraged and ready to hit this weekend’s 18 miles.
My guiding mission during this time has been to (a) not get injured and (b) not get sick. Knock on wood, so far so good on the injury, but last Wednesday I woke up sick.
I debated skipping my 8-mile run that day to rest up, but after napping for most of the day, I decided to suck it up and head out. I ran pretty slow, but it wasn’t too painful, so I decided to stick with the 10K race I had Thursday in lieu of a 5-mile training run. That went even slower and less well.
The real test though, was this weekend’s long run—scheduled for 18 miles. I was worried about it. I spent a lot of time Thursday and Friday sleeping and willing myself to be NOT sick by Saturday/run day.
I had a Plan B though. I figured if I got into my run and felt bad that I would switch this week’s long run (18 miles) with next week’s (13 miles). I woke up feeling okay, if a little coughy and phlegmy.
I caught a ride with my family to the doughnut shop to start me a little farther away from my final destination. (Do you have any idea how goddamn hard it is to find a mostly downhill route of 18 miles in the DC area?)
I headed out with high hopes and a decision to evaluate how the run was going at about mile 11. Here’s how the run was going:
Mile 1.5: Whine. My legs are tired. I stop in at a 7-11 to buy a Gatorade and impulse buy a Snickers bar to stash in my Camelbak for later if necessary.
Mile: 3: It’s hot. I’m going to take off my gloves and earwrap.
Mile 4: I should put that earwrap back on.
Mile 4.5: Christ, it’s hot. I take off my gloves and earwrap and tie my jacket around my waist.
Mile 6: I’m cold. Jacket back on. Hold off on the gloves and earwrap for now.
Mile 8: I pass the bottom of the road that leads to my house. I look longingly up it.
Mile 8.5: This run is a slog. I sit on a stump for a while to evaluate my life choices. Eventually I stand up and keep going.
Mile 10: Everything warm is back on for good.
Mile 11.25: I sit on a bench and eat my Snickers bar. This is a GOOD life choice.
Mile 12: Should I stop at 13 miles? No. Mostly because I don’t want to run 18 miles next weekend. Also, I only have a 10K left to run. How hard could that be?
Mile 14: Hard.
Mile 16: I sit on a bench to suck the last of my water from my Camelback and watch a really sad looking woman look for her lost keys on the C&O canal trail.
Mile 16.1: She found her keys! It is a miracle! She is so happy she looks like she is going to cry. I congratulate her and continue to shuffle along.
Mile 17: Every step I take carries me a longer distance than I have ever run consecutively. I also start to wonder where exactly I am going to be when I reach 18 miles. Far from any reasonable exit point on the trail? Unable to move? Virginia?
Mile 18: Turns out I am one stinky, sketchy staircase away from Georgetown. I climb it and talk to Alex on the phone who is already on his way to pick me up. I tell him at what intersection I am sitting and shivering. Then my phone, unable to function in the cold anymore, dies from battery loss.
I sit and shiver and wait for a surly but heroic Alex to arrive.
Marathon training sucks hard.
I’m doing it though. And if I can run this 18 miles while sick and cold, I can do 26 in Houston—as long as I can keep injury and sickness away for the next 50 days.
Also, my family saved a doughnut for me. I ate it when I got home. It was delicious.