"Don't run the second :30 minute run today. Scratch that. Given what's going on, just do the 2:30. And if the 2:30 is not in the cards, just do 2. Your heart rate might be elevated due to the stress you're dealing with. If you notice your heart rate is high, I'd rather have you do 2 and call it a day. It's not worth it at this point in the game. Your running is one of your stronger points and you'll be fine. Listen to your body."
These were the words of my coach today on the drive back from PA. The words following a 2 day break from workouts. The words following 2 consecutive 4 hour nights of sleep--not very good sleep, either. The kind of sleep where you wake up and your mind is racing. Where your head is so heavy because you've cried a lot. I did my 4600 yard swim and 106 mile ride/3 mile run on this sleep, and I just knew last Sunday that doing a 3 hour run was not a good idea given my circumstances.
My coach agreed. So today, 2 days later, she sent me out on a cautious run. I felt ready. I needed this.
Running is what I do to relieve stress. Running makes me feel better. Always.
But today, it wasn't working.
Today, my heart rate, just like she said, was up. High. REALLY high. I kept slowing down, and it would barely dip into Zone 2. And then shoot up again.
I ran the first hour frustrated, thinking about things, and running with that lump in your throat that you feel when you're about to lose it. I realized that this is not the way to attempt a long run.
So I turned around. She said I could, right? I sucked down an Apple Cinnamon Hammer Gel, and I started to think about how I could turn things around.
See, this is my last hard week. That's what my coach said on my plan, and I knew that before she even said it. This is it, folks. I just have to make it through this week and then I'm in taper.
I can barely believe it even when I see it on the screen.
So I started to think about the stuff I've been dealing with in the past 2 weeks. The stuff keeping me up at night, and making me cry more than I have in a long time. And I'm not much of a cryer, either. Just when I'm going up that damn hill on the Greater Cleveland Tri Course at Mile 10....I'll admit, on rare occasions on that hill I've let a few squirt out. Alright? It happens.
I have a lot that is draining me, physically, mentally, and emotionally this month. I am tired. I am scared of a few things I will find out soon. I am dealing with some work stuff and some emotional stuff on top of this. I have a presentation on Friday.
The training, quite frankly, is the least of my worries.
So as I was running, for the first hour, I just kept feeling this overwhelmed sense that things were out of control. Why this week? I muttered in my head. Why does this all have to come to a head now?
So I turned around at an hour, and I thought, OK. This has got to change. I can't go through this week like this. How can I change how I'm dealing with all this stuff that's hitting me now?
And I think I got it. Finally.
When people ask me when I started training, I usually say the answer in my journal: December 1, 2005. That's when I started my official training for this thing that is now 4 weeks away.
But that's not really true.
As I ran back to my house today, I realized that the training started long before that.
I started my training sometime in June of 1980, when I took my first swim lesson.
Sometime in the summer of 1982, when I was riding my bike in the Cahoon Soccer Fields, and I looked behind me to see my Dad about 300 feet behind me. He took his hand off the seat. I was riding alone, and I can still remember how blue the sky was that day and how I screamed with fear and delight and shock.
It began in June of 1985, at my first swim meet.
It began in 1998, when I signed up for my first 5K. In 2002, when I crossed the finish line of my first marathon.
I've been training for a LONG time.
So now, it's August 8, 2006. I've got a rough week ahead, in many aspects of my life. BUT--when I think about how long I've been training, I'm reminded that I've been through MUCH worse weeks than this. I can remember moments in time when things happened that shook me to my core between 1980 and now.
October, 1998 and April, 1999.
September 11, 2001.
September 12, 2001.
These are just a few that I can think of now. There are more. I could explain them, but I won't. Just trust me--they were trying days. All of them more complicated and hard then this week.
And then, after I realized that, I thought of my favorite Bible verse, which also happens to be one of my favorite quotes--it just played through my head:
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."--Psalm 139: 13-15
I remembered that I signed up to do some volunteering for my church this week--that I will have some good time with my Mom tomorrow--that I just had a wonderful weekend celebrating my 2nd anniversary with my husband. These things will get me through anything else that I might have thrown at me this week.
I remembered that my friends helped get me through my longest ride ever this weekend. That I got to spend some good time with one of my best friends Saturday night.
I remembered the sense of acceptance and amazement I finally have with my body--not because of how it looks, but because of what it is doing. And it made me realize that I will bounce back from this.
And I negative split my run, running the last 2 miles at about an 8:15 pace. It felt great. I finally felt better.
So when all was said and done, I ran 12 miles today--not the 15 like I had hoped. But I got a lot accomplished by cutting my run short. And I will deal with things as they come this week, and get through it.
Because, when I think about it, I've been training for a very long time.
And I've overcome a LOT more than this week in my training.