The Maui half marathon is 4 weeks from today!!! I cannot believe how fast the time is flying by, at least as far as training has gone. I've had some really great runs in the past 2 weeks, and some really BAD ones too. I've also broken my own cardinal rule and strayed from the training plan (oops!). Last Tuesday I ran a last minute 5k race instead of running my scheduled 4.5 miles on Wednesday. I know it was shorter, but I ran it significantly faster than my usual pace. I actually set my personal best 5k time! And I didn't come in last! I beat 6 people-Hooray! But then this week, on Friday, I was supposed to do another 4.5 but I only did 1.3. I had the double jogger and it was insanely windy, my ipod was dead but I didn't know that until I hit play when I started running, and I was tired. Not so much physically, but mentally. As I'm learning, training isn't just physical. It takes a lot of mental work to train for a race. I have to plan my days, my meals, my wake-up and bedtimes-everything-around my training. With my husband deployed, I have to arrange a sitter for my kids on the morning of my long run each week. When I up my mileage, I have to plan new routes. It's a lot tougher mentally than I thought it would be, so I'm cutting myself some slack and writing off Friday as a mental health day. I was back out today for my 8 mile run, and while it wasn't the best run I've ever had, it is the longest so far, and it felt pretty damn good.
Running in general, and this training in particular, is forcing me to be brutally honest with myself. Which is a good thing. I think. Mostly. When I say brutal, I mean kick-in-the-teeth, no-holds-barred brutal. If I didn't drink enough water or get enough sleep, I'll feel it on my run. If I've been particularly bad diet-wise and eaten fried foods-watch out. I'll be paying for that on my run, and probably the rest of the day as well. Hit the wine (or the Captain and Diet Coke, depending on how bad the week was) a little too hard? Yeah, running gets me for that too. Running is an intensely honest assessment of how far my fitness has come as well. Brutal truth? I'm S-L-O-W. Even my personal best 5k time is slow. But on the flip side, I ran 8 miles today. There is no way I could have done that at any other point in my life aside from maybe right after I got out of bootcamp, but I was a lot younger and a hell of a lot thinner then.
Some other brutal truths running has pointed out to me recently? With each mile I add, I WILL have a new spot that chaffs. Bodyglide will fail EPICALLY at some point, in some spot, on any run longer than 6 miles. For some reason, 8 miles feels a lot longer than 7 miles did. Training takes a lot of time and commitment, a lot more than I had anticipated. And finally, it looks like I'll be sacrificing the nail on the second toe on both my feet to the gods of running :( They are both starting to pull away from the skin at the front of the nail. While I knew this was fairly common for runners, I a) don't think of myself as a runner so I didn't think it would happen to me and b) common or not, it is gross and makes me sad.
Honestly though, I love this aspect of running. I can't fake it. I either can do my run that day, or I can't. And at this point, if I can't, it's more than likely because of something I did or didn't do, not because I'm not physically capable of doing it. I've been lucky to avoid any serious injuries so far aside from a rolled ankle back in March, but that is another way of running giving you the brutal truth. If you go too hard, too fast, running will make you pay. It's hard to watch my friends who are injured have to sit out and not run. And it's scary. As hard as running is, as mentally and physically draining as training can be, I can't imagine my life without it. Trying to reach this one goal of running the half marathon (and probably the full Honolulu marathon in December-yes, I am a little bit crazy) is helping me reach a lot of other goals. I'm losing weight. In general, I've got more energy. I'm not quite as stressed out as I used to be and I'm a hell of a lot more focused. All because I can't fake running. I don't want too many of those brutal truths catching up with my slowness all at once though, so I'm going to force myself to get back on track, stick to the training plan, and see where this ride takes me.
*As a footnote,I came across this article on active.com (one of my favorite sites) and, although gross, it's very funny, and it kind of plays into the theme of this post.