So, last week, I was ready to throw it all in the trash bin. After all, who did I think I was? My aspirations to run a marathon were a joke. My training was also a joke. Last week, when I ran ten miles on the treadmill, it was like a 2+ hour taste of my own personal hell.
So what changed? Nothing, really. Except that if I thought last weeks ten mile run on the treadmill was a short taste of my personal hell, this week’s 12-mile treadmill run was some Dante-esque ninth circle and the treachery I’d committed was against myself.
But why, you may be asking me, why did you run 12 miles on a treadmill? And that is an excellent question. It wasn’t my plan. In fact, I’d already mapped out a nice run from my gym up 6 miles and back along a Chicago river trail. The problem was, I was having issues. Issues that made me desire to stay within close proximately to a bathroom. I trust I don’t have to say more.
The weekend leading up to the run was rough. Friday evening a rugged bbq pitmaster who I know and love served up meat fest 2012, which I partook of thoroughly. Also, there was beer involved. Saturday, an event I am involved with threw a dance party that began with a nice dinner out at 5:30 and ended with a jalepeno pizza at 11:30. And there was beer. And wine.
And all of this resulted in me slogging away on the fucking treadmill like a demented hamster for 2 1/2 hours.
They shoot horses, don’t they?
But here is the thing. I did the 12 miles. And here is the other thing: my pain? I brought it on myself. That is when I have realized that I have come into a point in my training where I can not get away with the same level of mischief that I have managed thus far. When you are running 10+ mile runs, you actually do have to be conscious of what you eat and what you drink and whether or not you smoke (even if it’s just at parties) and how much sleep you get. Conditioning, alas, is not just about hitting the mileage numbers. Which brings me to a fork in the road.
Do I continue my life of pleasurable self-indulgence, or do I give that up so that I can complete my marathon training? Do I have it within me to actually practice discipline? Do I even want to? (To be fair to myself, I am not a total slacker. I actually manage to get a lot of things done in the general course of my life, and more or less competently as well).
By the way, I just realized that I have run more than 125 miles already in 2012. 125 miles! Check me out!
Which is why I am going to rise to the challenge to see this marathon thing through. Because, even with the struggles and doubts I’ve grappled with on a nearly daily basis, marathon training is giving me something totally awesome in return: the ability to feel a sense of real accomplishment and achievement as a result of my own tenacity. I mean, I came into this task with no aptitude for it whatsoever. Every week I am pushing the boundaries of what I thought I was capable of and what I thought my limits were.
They’ll be pushed again this weekend. I’m due to run 14 miles for my long run, but I was already signed up to run in an indoor 5K at McCormick place, and have an obligation to be at my gym in the early afternoon. So, how far is it from McCormick Place to my gym? 12 miles. Yep. I am running the indoor 5K and then, well, if you are a Chicagoan and you want a mental imagine, picture this: I will be running from McCormick Place to Foster, and then west on Foster to Francisco. A half marathon, baby. Which sounds great although there is that pesky part of me remembering that my ultimate goal is to run twice (!) that long.
In the meantime, my friend Unsoo recommended this book that she said was really inspirational and motivational for her as a runner. It’s apparently a bestseller, called “Born to Run,” which is about this culture of super elite runners who live in the mountains in Mexico. I’m reading it this week and I sure hope it puts some pep in my step.