I had a dentist’s appointment this morning. She pulled out a sliver of bone that had sloughed off my jaw bone and was erupting from my gum. Then she immediately sent me to the oral surgeon to check on the possibility of oral cancer. As I sat in his waiting room, I thought, “Who would I call first if I found out I was sick?” And I couldn’t think of anybody. Oh, sure. I’d tell my family, but I’d want to talk about it with someone else first. I have plenty of friends I could call, but I couldn’t think of who I’d want to call. Who I wouldn’t be embarrased to call. Who I trusted enough to call. (Sorry, y’all.)
I have a meeting with my contentious boss in the morning that I’m sweating, and I’m still feeling anxious and scared about going to Savannah next week and running my marathon.
One of the problems with anxiety (at least with mine) is that when I’m nervous or unhappy, I want somebody to be there for me. But the anxiety and depression make me want to isolate myself and not see or talk to anybody. So I lay here feeling anxious and depressed and lonely, and at the same time, wish I wasn’t dealing with it all alone. Then I feel bad, which makes me anxious and depressed, which makes me lonely, which makes me sad, which makes me want to isolate, which makes me anxious and depressed…
I got home this afternoon and just wished I had a guy to listen to me and hold me and comfort me and fix everything – make it all better. And I realized again that’s the unrealistic expectation I always have, particularly in romantic relationships – the expectation that somebody else can fix what’s wrong with me. When they don’t, I’m disappointed.
I know I can’t make everything better. I’ve been an abject failure at that.
It’s just so confusing to hate feeling alone and wanting to talk with somebody, but at the same time, not wanting to deal with people at all.
I’m so tired.
After last week’s demoralizing 20 miler, I didn’t run at all this week. It started out as a couple of extra rest days and turned into a pity party/excuse fest. Even though I had no motivation, I knew I couldn’t skip my Saturday long run, especially only two weeks out from the race. I wasn’t sure how the week off would affect this run. Would I have the endurance to run it all? Would my pace bottom out? Would the rest have helped?
What was my brain going to do today? Would I overthink everything and paralyze myself again? Would I beat myself up? Would I be wracked by self-doubt and anxiety?
So I decided to just run. Run without looking at my watch. Run without thinking about running or racing.
I daydreamed and let my mind wander as my body went on and did its thing. I wrote a couple of blogs in my head: one about the church and politics, the other about softball and sexism. I also picked out my imaginary Halloween costume for an imaginary date to an imaginary Halloween party with a very real person. I spent about three miles through Buckhead fantasizing about how that would play out and what ethical delimmas could arise. Good imaginary times. Good imaginary times.
Those daydreaming miles passed effortlessly. I had moments when I looked around and thought, “How did I get here already?”
That’s what I like best about long runs. They’ve always served as a reboot for my brain. They’ve been two, three, four hours alone with no noisy interruptions when I can think and compose and sightsee and stargaze and daydream.
Sometimes when I get home from a long run, I think back on things that happened and things I thought about during it, and it seems just like waking up in the morning and remembering a dream. I think somehow those things must be stored in the same part of the brain. I suspect that long runs have something in common with REM sleep.
The 16 miles ended. I pushed the stop button on my watch and I had run the 16 miles in 2:52:21. That’s a super pace for me at that distance – 10:46.
As I did my cool down walk, I thought about how I always judge myself as good or bad based on the outcome of the things I do. I never allow for any grey area. That’s ironic, because I give everybody else prodigious grey area – often more than they deserve, and often to my own detriment.
I need to remember that a bad run doesn’t make me a bad person. A bad day doesn’t make me a bad person. Even doing a bad thing doesn’t make me a bad person.
And I need to remember that I’m the only one who cares if I break 5 hours in this marathon. My family will still love me. My church won’t burn down. The Earth’s spin will not screech to a halt. They even won’t stop producing Diet Mountain Dew or Pop Tarts.
Even Jesus had a bad day, got pissed at a fig tree and dried that bitch right up. Last I read, he was still a pretty stand up guy.
156 avg heart rate
10:46 avg pace
Total weekly miles: 16
Compare to Last Week
Weeks to Savannah Rock n’ Roll Marathon: 2
I think I can. I think I can. I think I can…
C’mon, Meat! Throw it! You know you’re not gonna hit me, cause you’ve already started to think about it, eh?! Thinkin’ about how embarrassing it would be to miss in front of all these people, how somebody might laugh?! Come on, meat, show us that million-dollar arm, ‘Cause I got a good idea about that five-cent head of yours!”
– Crash Davis to Nuke LaLoosh, “Bull Durham”
I gave up. I’m so ashamed of myself.
When the Garmin finally beeped 20 miles and I pushed the stop button, I took off my cap, put my hands on my knees and said out loud, “Fuck! Fuck this fucking run!”
That about sums it up.
The first half of the run was fine. I turned around north of Oglethorpe at about 10.25 miles. And then I’m not sure what happened. A weak place in my brain cracked and said, “You should stop and walk.” And I did. And the run was done. Oh, I still had to make it all the way home, but I was finished.
This is the same five cent head that had me shoot at the wrong basket in my first middle school basketball game. The same five cent head that made me throw a million balls into centerfield trying to catch runners stealing second. The same five cent head that lost the league championship when a routine ground ball rolled between my feet at second base and into the outfield.
My brain doesn’t allow me to let those things go. I spent the last 9.5 miles of this run taking account of all the ways I’m a loser. My negative thoughts spiral and spiral and spiral down a dark hole of regret and self-doubt. I ruminate on all the things that are wrong with me – all my weaknesses and failures.
And I’m terrified that blowing this last 20 mile run before the race is going to keep me from reaching my goal, and all this time and suffering and all the 4:15 morning runs are going to be for nothing.
Then I will be a failure. I will be weak. I will be embarrassed.
I asked myself again after a little cry in the middle of Buckhead, why I feel like I have to run another marathon. I think I’m trying to prove that I’m strong, that I’m not a quitter, that I’m special.
If I’m strong, then I’m invulnerable. No one can hurt me. I can take care of myself. I don’t have to care what anybody thinks about me. It’s not scary to be alone.
If I’m not really a quitter, then quitting graduate school, and my marriage, and working my steps, and therapy, are all just flukes.
If I’m special, then I can be self-righteous and judgmental and self-confident and proud and cocky.
When I read back what I just wrote, I see that I’m running to be a person I’m not. Oh, I am strong and determined and special, but those words don’t mean what I’ve defined them as there. I need to see and accept the person I really am – strengths and weaknesses – and be OK with her. (Maybe even like her a little….)
So I suppose the real question is, what happens if I don’t break my 5 hour goal in Savannah? I’ve never dealt well with failure or losing or not getting my way. I was still crying after losing softball games well into my 20s, and I STILL think if I pester Boo enough I can get him to love me. Acceptance is not my forte.
It occurred to me several weeks ago that I don’t like this level of training. This probably needs to be my last marathon. I’m trying so hard now to focus on doing things in life that make me happy.
But am I stubborn enough and so driven by shame that I would train for another miserable five or six months to try again if I fail this time? Would I suffer again just for some arbitrary goal that doesn’t mean anything to anybody but me?
Could I simply accept that I didn’t reach my goal and that I don’t want to try again?
That sounds an awful lot like quitting.
Sigh. Why can I not be OK with that?
130 avg heart rate
13:09 avg pace
Total weekly miles: 40.5
Compare to Last Week
Weeks to Savannah Rock n’ Roll Marathon: 3
Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon – November 28
Battle For Black Rock 12 Miler – December 6
At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start.”
– How It Works
Some runs are just hard. Nothing can make them easier. You can give up, or you can suck it up and persevere. Today’s 17 was one of those.
The Friday before last week’s great 20 miler, the training schedule only had me run 4 easy miles. Yesterday, I had to run 9 miles, 5 of them at 10K race pace (10:00). So I think the fatigue plus the humidity really put the hurt on this one. But the tough runs on tired legs are the ones that make you strong on race day.
149 avg heart rate
11:10 avg pace
Total weekly miles: 49
Compare to Last Week
Weeks to Savannah Rock n’ Roll Marathon: 4
Don’t confuse the difficult with the impossible.”
– Me, 10/4/14
You may remember my crisis about a month into this marathon training when I had serious doubts if I was strong enough to make it through my training schedule. I took a week and didn’t run at all. I was seriously considering quitting. Then I talked it over with a friend who pointed out that even if I couldn’t run 55 miles a week (the peak of the plan), that didn’t mean I had to bail completely. I could alway pare the mileage down.
That was enough to get me back on my feet. Thanks, B!
And this week? I ran 55 miles. I couldn’t have run 55 miles back when I was thinking about quitting. But I kept following my training schedule and when it was time, I could. Such a great lesson for me that I alway forget – most great achievements are reached by many small steps and lots of determination. They don’t just happen suddenly.
Sometimes I have to remember where this journey began about 15 years ago so I can realize how far I’ve come. I was 70 lbs. heavier – 210, and I could barely run 30 seconds without stopping. So many times I forget how much toughness and determination I’ve shown. And I forget that all that toughness and determination that brought me this far is still inside me.
So in that same vein, I ran my first 20 miler of this training plan this morning. I ran it all without stopping in 3:37:02 at a 10:51 pace – comfortably faster than my goal pace. My legs didn’t even hurt much. That’s new for me on such a long run – proof that I’m getting stronger!
I’m generally pretty hard on myself. I’m usually self-critical and think of all the ways I could’ve been better. But after this run, I walked in the door to my building and thought to myself, “Good job.”
151 avg heart rate
*Total weekly miles: 55
Total time run: 10:05:29
Total calories burned: 5921
*These stats shall serve as my apology to everyone I’ve turned down to go anywhere over the last month and everyone who hasn’t has a text returned by me after 7:30pm. I run in the mornings before work. Five days a week I’m up around 4 or 5a, so I’m sleeping every spare moment, even during my lunch hour and usually by 7:30 and 8:30p every night! The calorie stat shall serve as my justification for having eight different kinds of bread in the house – not counting the GU and the MetRx bars and the Clif Bars and the Goldfish and the pretzels and the oatmeal and the Pop Tarts…
Compare to Last Week
Weeks to Savannah Rock n’ Roll Marathon: 5