16 miles today. In the rain. I even wore a hat because I needed to keep the rain out of my eyes, which is something I never do. Props to the Brooks Clover hat, because it totally represents the Irish center of Boston; Southie!
Also, I hate to say it, but I ran like my legs were tree trunks, but the rest of my running team kicked BUTT! I literally ran 1 minute per mile slower than I normally do. My average pace per mile today was 9:17. Blah. I normally can run a strong 8:15-8:30. Now, for some of you, that's a downright respectable time, especially when running a long run in the rain. But, for me, I was thoroughly bummed out. Yes, I PR'd in distance today, as I have never run 16 miles before, but time wise, it was a wash out.
Becca even had this to say in an email after our run:
I wanted to tell you, on your long(er) runs forget about your watch! Focus on how you are feeling! You want to finish these runs feeling great, like you did today, even in nonsense weather!! Once you continuously finish feeling strong, we will incorporate the watch in and show you how to run negative splits! You can still run with your watch, (for distance and knowing what mile you are at, but really don't get hung up in your times on distance runs!) The point of these long runs is to work hard, and leave some in the tank, where you know you can keep going if you need to!
She's right, because I did finish that run feeling completely fine. My lungs weren't tight, I didn't feel like I needed to lay down and die, and I just ran right to the recovery snacks needing to stretch out my hamstrings. But I was still frustrated!
I know (not for health or beauty standards) that to improve my time, I need to lose some weight. I'm fully aware of this, but its hard when I'm at my "happy weight" outside of the world of running. I feel comfortable and confident in my skin and for the first time in my 27 years, I haven't uttered the words "I need to lose weight" when looking at the mirror. What a huge accomplishment for me. However, in the world of running, I need to lose some weight to improve speed. Running longer distances, and for longer amounts of time will also help. I should also not forget to do my speedwork on tuesdays. There are lots of training habits and commitments that need to happen prior to running a marathon.
What I realized today is that more than half of this game is mental. I got into my head the moment I took my first step. I wanted to stop within the first three miles but thank god for my running team, that I never actually let that happen. Throughout this morning, as difficult as it was to get through the first 8 miles, then back the next 8, I realized I really love this challenge. I love getting up saturday mornings for these runs, even if my brain hit a cement wall. I love knowing that I'm pushing myself and giving it everything I have. As an adult, especially one who isn't hitting the "typical" milestones like many of her peers, you need to find other things that motivate you; other mile makers (literally) that take time, patience, dedication, and commitment to get to the end and feel satisfied by.
But what worries me just a tad, is how I've used this training to really get my mind focus on other things in life, and replaced some hurt feelings with running. WHICH is totally awesome and healthy, but I need to come up with a plan for myself when I'm not hyperfocused on my training 24/7. Literally, I eat, sleep, breath, and blog about running. Its really all I think about lately, which I am totally excited by. I feel welcomed into a happy and healthy peace-minded and goal oriented cult of awesomeness. However, I noticed, lately, that a lot of my conversations are focused on running, and I keep planning for what comes next. What happens after I run this marathon, that I never thought I would ever ever accomplish in my lifetime. Will I sign up for another one? Will I join a running team not associated with Team in Training? Will I find something else to push myself to do?
I'm not sure I know...at least...for right now. And I guess I have to be ok with this, and be ok with loving this thing called running, and be ok with loving that I ran 16 miles, whether they be the fastest 16 miles in the history of mankind, or the slowest ones to boot. Either way, I need to appreciate what this training has done for me, and love it for its ups and downs. Because after this, I can never tell myself I can't do anything, in life or in exercise. How can I complain about the rain ever again, when I just rain 16 miles in it? How can it ever be too cold, or too late to exercise? How can I ever tell myself that I can't accomplish something, because I know, that even if my brain wants me to stop, I will finish it. Isn't that awesome?
So cheers to a slow 16 miler, because even when I thought I couldn't do it, I could. Cheers to getting up on saturdays and going to bed early on fridays. And super 100x awesomer cheers to my running team this morning for killing it out there. They have really improved in speed and endurance and I couldn't be more proud! And cheers to me for training for a marathon.