The other day I got to cross off the exact halfway point of my training for the marathon! WOO HOO! This week marks another big milestone for me. So far, the longest I've ever run is 13.1 miles (a half marathon) but my long run this week is 14 miles. Each long run that I have for the next three weeks will be a new "longest run ever" for me. I'm more excited about it than dreading it. I enjoy my long runs more than I thought I would because I feel so accomplished at the end. It's all the shorter runs that test my patience.
Case in point: Saturday's run. Most marathon training programs follow a schedule of three weeks of increasing mileage before a lower mileage week to allow the body to recover a little bit. My low mileage week was last week and I only needed to do an eight miler as my long run. Since Adam signed up to run the VB Half with Bazan, Amy and I over Labor Day weekend, he decided to come with me. I assumed he'd only run a couple of miles and then turn around to go home but he was determined to run the whole thing.
Here's where we made our crucial error. It was hotter than hell in Chicago this weekend and about 110% humidity. When you walked outside, it was just like stepping into the sauna at the gym. Disclaimer: I realize you Texans have been dealing with this for, what, 2 months now? But you have to realize that here we've been having one of the coolest summers on record and part of heat (or cold) is your body's ability to tolerate it. My heat tolerance is pretty low right now.
We piddled around all morning, mostly playing on Facebook (idiots!) so we didn't actually get outside until almost 1 p.m. At the beginning, I felt awesome. I was so pumped to be running and to have a running buddy until the wheels fell off a little bit after mile 2. The beginning and end of our run was really nice because we were in the shade but there was a huge section in the middle where we left the park and hit the lakefront path and the sun was just beating down on us. I have never been so sweaty. I sat down at one point and my legs were even soaked. Everyone on the trail was running so slowly because the weather was truly stifling.
Running for me is defined by my ability on that given day to control my breathing. In case you didn't know or don't remember, I never used to do the required running in high school because I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma. Luckily, I had an awesome step aerobics teacher in college at Galveston that pushed us to run and my roomie, Katy, and several of our friends started running so we'd pass our fitness tests for the class. At the time, didn't 1.5 miles feel so long? Hilarious. I don't know if I outgrew it but I haven't had an asthma attack in about 5 years and I don't even keep an inhaler around anymore. I know my own limits, meaning that I will probably never be an 8 minute miler, but I'm satisfied with my personal progress.
Back to Saturday, with the sun on my back (that felt like a million pounds of weight) and the humidity, I completely lost the ability to take a deep breath. It was awful. We had to sit down for probably 20 minutes until I felt like I'd be able to go again. I was totally embarrassed because Adam was with me and he was relatively fine. But after some rest and a mini-pep talk, we were ready to hit the trail again.
I was reading another blog the other day and one of the girls that contributes is also training for a marathon. She had a similar experience when trying to do her 16 miler on a treadmill (which is a feat in itself... running on a treadmill is hard and BORING) where she broke down in the middle of the run and started crying. The part that got me was that she got up and finished her run. I think that the innate ability that she had to keep going when she thought she couldn't is what will give her the last little bit of umph to finish the 26.2. I felt exactly like that when I was running on Saturday. I had to dig deep and remember that my end goal was to be able to check off the space in my training program for this 8 mile run. "Bad" runs are just as important in a training program as all of the good ones because you have to learn to persevere and turn off the things in your mind that are telling you to stop.
Oh and by the way... once we got back in the shade toward the end of our run, I was able to find my groove again and I was able to beat Adam to our finish line. I had to show that I've been training so hard, didn't I?
Running Log: Saturday- 8 miles, Today- 4 miles
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