It's one of the very first and most important things that Coach Al tries to teach all his runners. Don't do something stupid just because you want to prove something, just because you've said that's what you'll do. I can hear him saying it now, heard him in my thoughts during my run today. With that in mind I will not, despite my deepest desire, be running the Dallas White Rock Marathon this December.
I had such high hopes for the 30k race that Bree and I were running this morning, the Clarksburg Country Run. I was feeling good, feeling prepared. My 13.1 mile run didn't go so well, my 16 miler wasn't much fun, but I thought this one I'd ace. I thought that today I could run well for at least 14 miles, run slowly for another 3, finish strong at the line. In no way did that happen.
I had an excellent 5k training run. We didn't start out too fast, kept to our plan to keep this a training run instead a race, and found ourselves at the very back of the pack. Not a problem, we had a plan. For me the plan fell apart before mile 5. I was struggling to keep up an almost 13 minute mile. I was tired and my breathing was wretched. I wasn't having a bit of fun.
For the next couple of miles I questioned whether I should just give it up, just DNF and call it a bad day. At that point I definitely let ego overrule my good judgment. I continued going and told Bree to go on ahead and run her own race or her own training run. I took more gel, drank more, walked more. Nothing helped. I was gasping despite a slow pace, feeling dizzy, feeling nauseous. There was only one conclusion: I didn't have nearly enough miles on my legs to even consider running a marathon in 5 weeks.
By mile 13 I badly wanted to pack it in but I wouldn't ask for help. I continued onward, walking for a few minutes of every 10. I had no excuse, no reason why I was doing so badly. Oh, I could say that I hadn't slept well, but I never sleep well. I could say that I hadn't eaten the perfect foods, but I don't always eat perfectly. I could say that I can never run well with wind in my face and the winds today were gusting to over 20 mph, mostly in my face. I could say that I started too fast (I didn't), that the course was boring (so what?), that I was all alone (but I love to run a race alone).
I thought that being in good tri shape from all the training this summer would carry me through. I thought I could go straight to mid then long runs, like I've done for the past several years. I thought that I was tough, that I was strong, that I could do anything that I set my mind to.
By about mile 15 I was walking more than I was running. Bree dropped back to join me and I was bargaining with myself: run to the sign, walk to the post. After a couple of minutes I had to stop even that. I could walk, even walk briskly, but I was done running for the day. The last few miles were all walking. I still had no breath to talk, still felt dizzy and nauseous. I just wanted to get it over with.
That's not the shape I need to be in if I intend to run a marathon. I won't participate in a 26.2 mile race just because I've registered, just because I want to complete a marathon this year, just because I told everyone I was going to do it. Coach Al taught me better than that.
So why can't I stop crying about my decision?