On the Run: Week 4

The return to running after a disappointing, and incredibly hot, half marathon experience turns out to be harder than expected.

on the run
  • Days until Anthem Richmond Marathon: 57
  • Miles run: 150.52
  • Doubt and determination: 1 + 1

Self: “Just one more day. I’m still too tired.”

Other Self: “You’re not tired, you’re scared. Scared you’ll hate it. Well, you’d better get out there and see.”

Self: “Ugh. We are the worst.”

This was the scene at 4:00 AM, three days after I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon.

As I described last week, the half marathon was, shall we say, “heck”? It was hot, it was humid, it was spiritless, it was dry as a bone.

I finished and thought “I can’t wait to run again,” sort of the same way you might think “I can’t wait to rinse this poop out of my mouth from that poop sandwich I accidentally ate, and surely any sandwich I were to consume after this would taste like heaven.”

So, the day after the half marathon, I thought I might go for a short run. You know, just to stretch out my muscles. But, morning came and went, and I didn’t go for that run–telling myself that I had done a hard thing just the day before, and I should treat myself kindly by resting.

Then the next morning came, and I remembered hearing from a friend about the day after the day after soreness, so I decided, again, to get out there for a bit. For real, this time. “Just two or three miles” I told myself sleepily, “right after I hit the snooze button for the third time.” Needless to say, that run didn’t happen, because I finally turned the alarm off altogether. I rationalized that I was still recovering, physically and emotionally, from the trauma of having my half marathon dreams pretty well dashed.

But day three arrived and, again, I found myself making excuses. Yes, the excuses were perfectly reasonable, but they weren’t the truth.

The truth was, I was scared. Scared that running was ruined for me by the short-term suffering I’d endured. Scared I’d broken my brain with dehydration and stress. Scared to get back on the horse that had bucked me off, violently, because only a fool would do such a thing.

Other Self was right, though, I had to get out there and see. I charged up the iPod, which was still loaded with the podcasts I’d saved for the race, sucked down a gel for a quick hit of sugar and caffeine, laced up my sneakers, and hit the road.

One mile in, I teared up. My legs were made of cement, and I couldn’t find my groove. My breathing was labored. I was hating life. Two miles in, and I began mentally composing an email to my editor here at RVANews to explain why I wouldn’t be continuing this project. Three miles in, though, something happened. Every breath stopped feeling like work, and every step no longer seemed like torture. I wouldn’t say it was great, but it wasn’t terrible. So I kept going. Mile four, mile five, mile six. My pace picked up and that familiar smile came across my face and heart. I squeezed out nine miles before taking quick shower and heading off to work. On my way in, I texted several friends, elated, “I DON’T HATE IT!” I capslocked some very sleepy people who were confused about what I didn’t hate, because I hadn’t told any of them how scared I was.

It’s been a week and a half since that first post-race run, and I’ve had a few stellar and a couple average runs in that time. I’ve also over slept quite a few times, waking up too late to make it out at all. In other words, everything is back to normal.

I’m also giving myself a break and gaining a little bit of perspective on what I went through. Of course it makes sense that I was down after I prepared for something for six months and then ran into a wall of disappointment. And of course I was tired after that. And of course I was scared after that. Yes, I’m an extremely determined person, but that’s not a magic spell. There’s room for doubt in determination, and as long as determination wins out over doubt, I’m okay with them sharing space, sometimes.

I’m back on the road for another week of figuring this stuff out. I haven’t had a longer run than ten miles since the race, and it’s time to get back to it. 26.2 isn’t going to just wrap itself up in a pretty bow and present itself to me, I’m going to have to reach for it. Goodbye, Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon, I’m moving on. As for you, my friends, I’ll see you on the road.

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

7 comments on On the Run: Week 4

  1. Your body will certainly appreciate the extra rest. In a couple of weeks you won’t even remember this I’m sure!

  2. For me, the first run after a race always feels AWFUL no matter what. It happened after long runs too… I’d run 12 miles and feel great on Saturday and then my 4 miler on Monday would feel like death. Makes no sense!

    You also ran in a very HOT race, which takes a lot out of you. Don’t worry, you’ll get back into it.

  3. I’ve run two half marathons, both a few years ago. I did the Rock and Roll Half in VA Beach half and it was a KILLER. A couple of years previous to that, I ran one in November in Roanoke and it was a great experience. And I’m not comparing a half marathon to a full AT ALL, but I think you can expect the weather in November to make for a much better experience than the beach in August.

    By the way, LOVE these posts. They make me tear up each week and they make me want to lace up my shoes and get out there. We’re cheering for you!

  4. Louise on said:

    Worried about your training schedule/mileage prep for the marathon. I’m on the training team, by the end of the Rock N Roll Half Marathon weekend, I’ve racked up 125 miles in training, and that’s with missing some runs. Are you following a training plan?

    Also, the R-n-R Va Beach is always super hot, no shade anywhere, and the stretch through the military base feels like a death march. Don’t feel bad, everyone struggles with it. Weather can have a huge impact on your run performance.

    Good luck! Stay hydrated and see you in November!

  5. Continually amazed by you. GO LADY GO!

  6. Louise – I am following a training plan. I’m on week 9 of 16, so am right on schedule, and have 188 training miles under my belt, as of today. Thanks for backing up my RnRVA experience, and see you on the road!

  7. You’re an inspiration to all who read this, because many of us will be feeling [scared, injured, exhausted, fill-in-the-blank] come Nov 11.

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