I put in quite a bit of work this week that I know will pay off, but it definitely did not come easily to me. Because this crazy guy was loose in my neighborhood (they caught him at a nearby nursing home, thankfully!), I was a little hesitant to run outside Thursday morning, even with Ana as she graciously offered to meet me at Ridiculous O'Clock. So I put in 9.1 miles on the treadmill before school with 4 mile repeats thrown in. They started at 7:40/mile pace and I dropped it down to 7:19. Now, I know it's on the treadmill so I sort of feel like that's cheating, even if I keep the incline at 1% like I always do. But still, I needed that confidence going into this Saturday's run. Which I had been
It was going to be really, really hard. Arguably, the hardest run I've ever attempted. I couldn't think of any run that was harder than this one, save an attempt at a 5K PR or something.
Here's what it was supposed to look like:
9 miles easy, long run pace (8:40-9:10)
6 miles starting at race pace (8:23) and dropping down to "7:15-7:30."
AT MILE FIFTEEN. ONE-FIVE.
FIVE TIMES THREE.
I decided Emily was trying to kill me. Or, trying to force me to work out my doubt and fear monsters before the race. I told her I think that it is most likely a little of both.
I know, consistently, my head has been my main issue in this long stuff game. So I really, really wanted to nail this one. But I was afraid.
Ana and my other bud, Katie (who is super adorable and enthusiastic and smiley and OMG FASSSSTTTTT) agreed to "give it a try." Which is hilarious in that they are NOT officially training for a marathon, and what kind of crazy person agrees to run that kind of workout?
I love them both.
Anyway, we started at 6:50am and it was nice and cool: beautiful sunrise, a perfect running morning. The first 9 miles went by nice and easy at a 9:00 pace. I coulda done that all freakin' day. Despite another forced potty stop (ARG intestines why do you HATE ME SO MUCH), it was great. We covered everything from kindergarten to teaching to Syria to Browns Football and it's a reminder of why I love love love running with friends so much.
Then, the work really started.
The first mile was fine--8:19. No problem. Mile 2 was also fine. 8:07. Mile 3, I started laboring. Because it wasn't really mile 3...it was MILE 12. And we went 7:59.
And then I started freaking.
I felt a bit nauseous and stopped to catch my breath. Ana and Katie looked like they had just started their run--they were totally fresh, and I was totally OMG HOW AM I GOING TO RUN 3 MORE MILES FASTER THAN THIS AGGGGGHHHH.
Here comes the head game. Which, is closely tied to my stomach, no doubt.
Mile 4 (13!) was 7:46. Then I stopped and almost cried. I was so pissed at myself for feeling like such crap. Why couldn't I hold this pace? I do faster than this in races. Why did it hurt so much? These thoughts quickly spiraled into, "If you can't do this, you have no business doing a marathon" which I know, I KNOW is totally stupid. But when you're in the middle of this workout, your brain turns to stupid. Or maybe just my brain.
Mile 5 (14) was 7:42 and then I really lost it. I did not think I could do another mile fast. Tears were stinging in my eyes. Katie and Ana were both killing it like they were out for an easy jog, and I felt horrible for being such a baby and holding them back. To say I felt dejected was an understatement.
They said we could stop there, but I said no, it's on the schedule, dammit, and I need to man up and do this. So I did. But I had to stop one last time in the middle of that last mile and let me also admit it was NOT under 7:30. But my mile 15 was 7:40, which I guess in the scheme of things is not the epic failure I made it out to be in my head.
Shuffled the last mile in 8:48 which felt like about a 12 minute pace, and collapsed on the ground.
16.1 miles complete, average pace for the entire run 8:32.
I've had a few hours now to soak it all in. Emailed Coach Emily as soon as I got home because I just felt so guilty. Guilty that I had to stop, guilty that my legs felt like lead bricks, and guilty that I could not for the life of me go faster than 7:40 for that last mile.
But now I'm feeling okay about it. Because that was definitely the hardest long run I've ever--EVER--attempted.
I can either wallow in sadness and failure and think about how I couldn't hit that last mile. Or, I could think about how I did 6 miles at the end of a 16 mile run at an average pace of UNDER 8 minutes per mile. And how those tears stung my eyes and how I said screw it I'm not giving up and how I took some grit in me and got through it.
I'm going to pick Option B.
Less than 6 weeks to go. The big, BIG stuff is looming on the horizon. This is why it's hard.
And this is why it will be so, so sweet when I finally get there.