31 Oct

20 miles down. 20 days left to go. I also have 1 month and 20 days left in my 20’s. Scary stuff.

Friday, October 29 was my scheduled, and dreaded, 20 mile run. I have been staring at this day on the calendar for months on end and somehow it has come and gone and left me with something I was not expecting: mixed feelings.

I surely thought going into this day I would come out of it feeling either really great or really scared. I definitely wasn’t expecting to feel both.

The alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I popped out of bed feeling ready for the day’s challenge. OK, that’s a lie. I got up, turned off my alarm and proceeded to lay back down with the mentality of if I don’t get up than this doesn’t have to happen. We can just tell people we ran 20 miles, right??

After some convincing that, no I could not pretend I ran twenty miles I had to actually run them, I got out of bed. I did my best to convince myself that it wasn’t that bad. Three hours of running would not kill me.

I got up, got dressed, force fed myself because when I’m a barrel of nerves I tend to lose my appetite(not exactly ideal for running marathons), and made it out the door. And it was cold out that door. A crisp 30 degrees and sunny. Actually quite perfect because that will most likely be the temperature on race day and it was great to get a feel for what to wear and how I’d feel given the temperatures.

We picked a new course that actually ran along a lot of the Boston Marathon course. Which translates to very hilly. Oh my word, those stupid hills never stopped coming. Despite the hills it was a nice change of pace from what we normally do and we got to see a lot of the neighborhoods that I usually don’t get to see. We ran past gorgeous neighborhoods with big houses and cute kids playing in the yards. We talked and dreamed about what it would be like to live in said big houses and the miles seemed to tick by.

Around mile 12 Jonathan started to complain about the pain in his knee and by mile 13 I could tell he was really hurting. We stopped shortly after at a 7-11 to get some advil and water in hopes that it would help the situation. After the quick pit stop we picked it back up and with in the first few minutes Jonathan decided it was best if he ended his run there. I conceded that it was probably the best thing to do and left him to finish up the final 6 1/2 miles alone.

I’m not going to lie, this was a major confidence blow. All I kept thinking about was how heart-broken I would be if it were me having to sit out the rest of the run and how was I possibly going to get through this marathon without him? It’s funny that I went into this marathon thinking I would run it alone and now somehow I couldn’t imagine myself doing this without him. I kept picturing myself lining up at the start alone on race day. It made me sad and the miles suddenly crept by much slower. Mile 16 was a very lonely mile for me. Ironically 16 is my lucky number.

Mile 17 went much smoother. I decided I needed to snap out of it if I wanted to finish this run strong. Plus, an Eminem song popped into my headphones which gave me a much needed boost – never underestimate the power of music. I continued to plod along the course and I was feeling pretty good, minus the knee pain that had started to creep it’s way in. No big deal, twenty miles is supposed to be hard right?

Mile 18 was most definitely my hardest mile. The earlier hills were now affecting my quads, which were now on fire, the urge to retreat onto the side of the road was becoming stronger and the pain in my knee went from slight to bad very quickly. It had gotten so bad that I was wondering if it was stupid for me to be running through it. I just couldn’t get myself to stop, not when I had less than 2 miles left. I had come too far to fail now. The only thing that kept me sane was the fact that the pain was coming in 10-20 second waves and then would return to normal. I knew from previous injuries that if the pain stayed constant then I was in trouble, otherwise I was ok to run though it. I kept timing the pain, making sure it never reached a solid minute and focused on making it to Beacon Street. I would be just a few tenths of a mile after that.

Mile 20 was easier than I would have thought. I was tired and ready for it to be over with but I kept reminding myself that I felt a whole lot better than I did ten minutes ago. I also kept thinking about Jonathan. I knew how bummed he must be feeling and it made me want to finish even stronger, to make him proud. The end of my run finally came into sight and I slowed to a walk, completely unsure of how to feel.

If my knee wasn’t in so much pain I would have felt happier about it. For some reason I felt more stressed about about the fact that I couldn’t even imagine tacking on 6.2 more miles. And what if this pain in my knee didn’t go away and I couldn’t run? What if I just wasted four months of my life? What if I had to run this marathon by myself? Why did I ever think this was a good idea?? And why can’t I just stop worrying about everything and be excited about the fact that I just ran 20 miles? Holy Cow, I just ran 20 miles!

You can see how this can confuse a girl. I really need to get my thoughts under control these next few weeks.

As of now I am tapering. Some people don’t do well with tapering beacuse they go nuts thinking they need to run more, do more speed training and basically cram as much running as humanly possible into the last few weeks. I, on the other hand, am thankful for the taper. I know that all of my training up until this point is what will (hopefully) get me across the finish line on November 20th. I also know that my legs need a break. Between the hills from the 2o miler and the fatigue from training, I know my legs will be in much better shape come race day. They will be fresh and ready to take on 26.2 miles. They will not wake me up in the middle of the night screaming for relief and they will not feel like they way 100 lbs each.

As much as I am grateful for the taper, I  really wish I had more time. I can’t even believe this race is in less than three weeks. Up until now November 20th felt so far away and like it was never really going to happen. Now I feel like it’s gone way too fast and I now need more time to train. At the same time I would really like to push the fast forward button to November 20th so I didn’t have to wait so long.

Regardless of the all these crazy thoughts in my head it all boils down to this: in 20 days I will be lining up on the streets of Philadelphia to run my very first marathon. Ready or not.


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