Bad Ass or Dumb Ass?
My running has gone in the shitter over the past four days. I’m entered in the Rock n’ Roll Savannah Marathon on November 8th. This will be my third marathon. The first two were the Georgia Publix races in 2012 and 2013. The Atlanta race is brutal and is mostly uphill from mile 18 on. The first race broke me mentally. I had no idea how much it would hurt physically and I didn’t really know how to deal with that when it hit during the race. I finished around 5 hours and 20 minutes. I had only trained running 30 miles a week for this one.
The next year, I upped my training to 40 miles a week and cut fifteen minutes off my time. I was much more prepared mentally for the rigors of the race. I concentrated on eating more during the race, and didn’t even cry at the finish line this time.
My goal this race is to break five hours. My assumption (and you know what they say about those) is that the course will be much flatter than Atlanta. I’m using the Pfitzinger Advanced Marathon 12 week training plan that peaks at 55 mile weeks before the taper. I had to dramatically increase my mileage every week leading up to the start of the plan just to get to the mileage where the plan starts. I knew it was dicey doing that. This should be the fourth week of the plan. I was on track to run 43 miles last week. Then Saturday came.
I was supposed to run 16 miles with 10 at marathon pace. I woke up at my usual 5am long run time and was not feeling it at all. I went ahead and got dressed. Drank a Gatorade, strapped on my water belt and GU and dragged myself out the door. Sometimes when I get started, everything will shake out and I’ll be OK. I ran about a mile and then I did something I’ve never done. I stopped and walked about a quarter mile and then turned around and walked home.
Normally, I would’ve felt really guilty and like a gigantic pussy. But I felt satisfied. I enjoyed listening to the crickets on the walk back. I went back inside, laid down on the couch and went back to sleep. And I haven’t run again since.
The mileage has been killing me. I’ve been trying to pretend it isn’t; but it is. My right hip is aching. My right quad is gimpy. My left calf has been tenuous. I think I have tendonitis in the back of my left knee. I’m pretty sure my right foot is broken from when a log rolled up on me during a mission trip this summer. I limp every time I stand up to walk. I’m exhausted from getting up at 4:15 to run 11 miles before I go to work. There has not been enough sleep in the world to touch how sleepy I’ve been. I’m burning so many calories, I’m having trouble eating enough to fuel myself without making myself sick. Frankly, except for bragging rights, it’s been no fun.
This is my conundrum. Where is the dividing line between being a Bad Ass and being a Dumb Ass. If I decide to keep this up for two more months, who am I trying to impress? And how will I feel if I don’t finish what I’ve started.
I used to be entirely opposed to quitting anything I started. Then I tried it. I quit seminary. I quit my marriage. I quit drinking. I quit working through my twelve steps. I quit Facebook. When is quitting good and when is it bad?
I’ve found that it’s nice to be able to brag that I’ve run a couple of marathons, but I’m not sure how self-satisfying it’s been. It’s always a relief when it’s over. That’s what’s felt the best. But I’ve been surprised at what a let down it’s been when it’s over too.
Why would I want to keep doing something that hurts and isn’t making me happy? But that’s what competition and drive is all about. How far can I push myself? How far CAN I run? How fast can I run? (Not very.) And if I quit, will I be able to face myself and the people I care about impressing in my life. (Yes, I DO care what others think about me. I admit it.)
Why do I have this need to push myself and try to prove “something?” And what I’m I trying to prove, and to whom?
I’m not sure what to do. But I know I have to decide really soon.