Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sunny with a Chance of Self-Doubt

Today was not my day.... and I never saw it coming.

After a great pasta dinner with my co-marathoning friends last night and a solid night of zzz's, I was feeling confident this morning as I went to meet the Bob Roncker's group in Newport for our 18-mile run. So much of running is mental, and I was in a good state of mind.  I felt strong.  A few directions and some words of wisdom from the coaches and we were off.

I was lagging behind the group a little in the first miles but was unphased.  I like to start out slow and build to a comfortable pace anyway.  I knew that some of the slower members of the group had met earlier to get a head start, so being dead last among the faster group wasn't a big deal.  I knew the route well, so I wasn't worried that the gap between me and the rest of the group was widening.  After all, I'd catch up to them at the first water stop.

As we rounded Mirror Lake and up to the gazebo in Eden Park for the first water stop, that's when it happened.  As I looked down to turn off my iPod, the tip of my shoe hit a break in the pavement, and I went tumbling.  For those of you who have been following my marathon spills, this may seem a little familiar. I have taken an abnormal amount of faceplants since I've begun running, but I am chalking it up to being naturally clumbsy and I also feel that the amount of steps you take is directly correlated to how many missteps you take.  I've run a lot of miles, so I'm bound to trip and fall once in a while.

I was a little shaken up after my fall, but after inspecting the lack of blood or broken bones, I decided I was physically safe to venture on.  But, at three miles in, it was tough to rebound from mentally.  Not to mention, I was well behind the rest of the group now, so any moral support I was going to get had left me in the dust.

The next 15 miles were a struggle.  I was cold, and it was windy, and I was developing a pain in my piriformis muscle on my left side.  I wasn't feeling good, and no matter what I told myself, I was not enjoying my run at all.  I was proud of myself for making it up all of the ridiculous hills on the course, but any joy I experienced was quickly replaced by pain and self-doubt.  My body was loudly trying to convince me that I couldn't make it.  The pain from the piriformis strain was causing me to favor my right side, and so I began to cramp up in my right ribcage.  Yep, the pain was spreading! I kept trying to tell myself I could make it, but the doubt and negativity, not to mention the pain, kept creeping in.

Marathon runners are constantly trying to strike a balance between what they think they cannot do, and what they believe they can do.  The body can be very persuasive when it wants to be.  Sometimes, that persuasion tells us to stop when we need to, and sometimes, like today, it tells us to stop when what we must do is press on.

After unceremoniously conquering the last major hill up Linwood, I made my way down to the flat yet tedious six miles of Eastern Avenue back to downtown Cincinnati.  At the water stop, I saw Running Spot Coach Rod and he asked how I was feeling.  "It just isn't my day," I told him, as I fought back tears.  He gave me some encouraging words and off I went.

As I made the turn from Stanley onto Riverside Drive, I saw that the 7:30 (faster-paced) group had caught up to me, as I poked along.  It gave me a little solace to know that there were people around, if only for a few minutes before they breezed past me.

I turned onto the part of the course on Riverside Drive that will either put hair on your chest or make you scream "Uncle!" like a little girl.  And, for whatever reason, I started to cry.  I was tired, and I had let my doubt get to me.  I had more than five miles to go, and I didn't think I could make it.

Coach Rod saw me, as I stood there along Riverside Drive, blubbering like an idiot.  He stood with me as I cried.  "I think the van at the last water stop has already left," he said, suggesting that I might want to quit right there.  "No. I'm going to do this," I said with authority.  "I'm going to run the rest of the way," I avered.  And I meant it.

Coach Rod ran with me. We made small talk, which took my mind off the pain. "Better to have a bad day today than on race day," he mentioned.  Good point.  I continued to power through the pain as Rod ran beside me.  An hour later, we were crossing the bridge and heading back to Newport.  I had done it.  It wasn't pretty, but I made it.

As bloggers and even as Facebook status-updaters, its easy to self-edit your life to only share the good stuff.  Today was a huge struggle for me, it was ugly, and it made me doubt my abilities.  I had a really tough day, and I'll admit it openly.  But it's just one day, and hopefully I have better days in my near future.  (And "race day" owes me one after last year.)

Forecast for tomorrow?  Cloudy with a chance of self-acceptance.

1 comment:

E. Jane said...

Sorry for your difficult day, but you made it to the end! And you did this by sticking to it! I hope all is well with you after your spill. Take care, and there will be better days and races.