Week 4. As I mentioned in my last post, my previous week of training started out relatively strong but ended on a down note. I found myself slowed down by some tightness and muscle soreness in my hip. It was bad enough that I found myself postponing my long run a day, so that I technically did the long run for week 3 on the first day of week 4. Still I prevailed, going out with T. for 5 miles that felt really great. I loved running along the lake as the sun sank lower in the sky, all of the fireflies blinking against the darkening twilight as we ran back through the neighborhood to our building. It felt good to run and not feel any pain, or rather, to feel that tightness of having a few days of rest and finding my footing again.
I ended up adjusting my schedule for the rest of the week. I will admit that it kind of messed with me a little bit. I think this was probably the biggest contributing factor to the thoughts that I had of "well, maybe I can't do this after all." Truthfully, I think was even further than I got in training for the half marathons I did... I always tried to start with a plan to get ready, but always ended up bailing on it for one reason or another. Just the fact that I have made it a month and I was still going strong felt like an impressively large feat for me. So to suddenly have a week where I was completely thrown off... it was a lot.
But on Wednesday night, I ran 4 miles before work. And Thursday, I ran 4 miles after work. Both runs were hard, but good. Both runs reminded me why I do this, why I run. I felt so alive there on the Lakefront; I was so aware of how different the atmosphere was between the two, and of how the shore and the water are always shifting and changing--no two days look exactly the same at Foster Beach on the shore of Lake Michigan. And I, too, am shifting and changing as I move a little bit closer to my goal, a little bit every single day. October is still relatively far away, but it will be here before I know it. So it is imperative that I keep at this.
Even though I had great runs, somewhere between Tuesday and Thursday I came down with some rather sharp pain in my left heel. Though the vast majority of the chronic pain issues I dealt with when I weighed more have long since disappeared, I have had 2 or 3 flare ups of heel pain over the last couple of years. And it makes sense that it would happen, I suppose... I work a very active job where I am on my feet for 50+ hours a week and for the last month I have been running 4 days a week. Seems like the perfect recipe for pain, right? So, though it was frustrating for me, I chose to rest on Friday instead of running to make up the one I missed on Tuesday. I had to work Friday and Saturday, but I took a break from training both days. I rested up, stayed hydrated, slept with my foot in a brace.
And Sunday morning, T. and I ran 9 miles. My first "long" long run of training. I will admit that I really struggled with it mentally, at least at first. I'm to the point in my running career that 5 miles, even 6 and 7 miles, doesn't really seem like a big deal anymore. But 9 miles just felt like an entirely different ballgame. Add in the pain issues I've been dealing with, and it's easy to see how I could be nervous. I knew I was going to take it slow and listen very closely. If I needed to stop, I was fully prepared to. In the end, I ran 9 miles in 01:37:01. I did have to deal with a cramp in my thigh near the beginning and some minor breathing issues near the end, and admittedly I probably could have pushed myself a little more than I did, but it was 9 miles and we did it. Next week is 10 miles, and it really doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me! (Thanks to T. for being the best running buddy and the best support during our run together.)
This ends week 4 and the first month of training. As I mentioned in a few Instagram posts, month 1 was good, despite the minor setbacks I found myself facing near the end. I am ready for what lies ahead. The beauty in this whole thing is that I am already learning so much about myself, I can already tell that I am changing and growing as a person and as a runner. I'm finding bravery and a bolder sense of self. 4 weeks down, 14 to go until race day. I am ready for whatever comes next!