I may be exaggerating slightly when I say I almost died. I didn't. Death wasn't near either, although I did feel really lightheaded right before reaching the twelve mile mark. I plodded through the first couple of miles reluctantly pulling my body along until I got into the swing of things. Getting really thirsty or having to pee is something you don't really need to think about in the gym or on a jog around the park, but it's something I should have prepared for. I reluctantly stopped at a creepy gas station to use the facilities along the way. Any place that has loiterers who look like permanent residents makes me a little uneasy.
I got a bottle of water and some now and laters. These were partly for my sweet tooth and partly because I thought it might induce salivation if I got tired of carrying a bottle full of cold water. It was warm-ish when I started but as soon as I felt the cool breeze of sunset coming off of Lake Mendota, I ditched the bottle. Holding onto it was making me colder. The last 4 miles were hilly and cool. The uphills made me feel like walking and the downhills made me feel like I was running faster than I could sustain. I was able to push through and finish strong. I only walked the last 2 blocks (and a couple of times during the run).
Going for a run when you are exhausted is hard enough, but sticking it out for two hours (while doing an excellent job of convincing yourself you feel fine) is a feat and a half. Now, whether it was a smart move or not, I have yet to decide. I have had to re-think the categories of smart and/or sane actions since I became a runner. Things have started to look differently ever since I redefined my standards for accomplishment. A couple years ago, I would have laughed hysterically if you told me I would run 21 miles in a week then decide it wasn't enough until I had run at least another 12.
I skipped the run yesterday because there was no way my legs were cooperating. I did go for a long walk with my dog and that felt good. Getting up and moving was the best thing for me at the moment, but it was hard to work up the motivation. Blue and I walked just over a mile and a half. Any further and I would have ended up carrying him. He's a little white poodle mix with knee problems, so he has a hard time going long distances. This made him the perfect companion for yesterday's walk, slow and steady.
I am more sore than I've been since I can remember, my legs want to move in short jerking motions and one of my toes has a blister on a blister next to a toenail that is only halfway attached (no lies). It feels great! I'd gladly trade blisters and about 3 more levels of sore for a lazy day on the couch with junk food any day. As long as this is what it takes to reach my goal.
No pain no gain, right? You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. What doesn't kill me makes me stronger? Yes, it's cliche, but it fits.
I don't think you can become an outstanding runner unless you get a certain amount of enjoyment out of the suffering. You have to enjoy absorbing it, controlling it and—ultimately—overcoming it.
The Masters of the Marathon in
I found this quote in my mailbox a couple days before my run and I figured I may need it pretty soon. What's funny is I actually understand the feeling. I did it. I overcame, I bravely faced something I've never done before and it feels good to know now that I can do it.
Thanks to everybody that has taken the time to read and follow me on my journey.
It's not over yet, I'll keep you posted.