(Yes, wore the same running outfit for two weekly pics in a row. With 18 weeks of training, it was bound to happen! Anyway, these are some of my favorite and most comfortable pieces of running clothing. The tank top is from Old Navy; the leggings are from TJ Maxx.)
Going into week 12 of marathon training, I was feeling ready and excited to run. I was definitely still riding the runner's high of my 16 mile run for sure; I was seemingly invincible, strong and ready. But then, I spent the better part of Tuesday morning feeling dehydrated and out of whack after waking up early with a few, ahem, intestinal issues. I only needed to run 4 miles, but knowing that I'd have to go into work and be on my feet for 10 hours made it seem like a monumental task. So... I opted to take the morning off. By the afternoon I was feeling better, but I was glad I hadn't pushed it too much.
I figured I'd just run Wednesday before work, but it was raining way too hard, and I am still working on running in the rain. Even if it hadn't been raining, I probably still wouldn't have gone out--I also woke up with some tightness in my right quads, lingering from work the night before. Instead of running, I went for a walk instead, getting in about a mile in the pouring rain. I walked close to 2 miles on my lunch break later on in the afternoon, managing to get in 3 miles total for the day. The pain in my thigh sidelined me on Thursday as well, as I rolled it out with my massage muscle roller (seriously, this thing is awesome) and stretched and waited for it to feel less weird. I mean, I tried to go on Thursday, but even just running halfway down the alley and back didn't really feel right to me.
I felt like I did a good job of staying positive despite the setbacks I had throughout the week, but truth be told, I was feeling a little discouraged about how the week was panning out. Friday and Saturday, I was just exhausted after a long week of work on top of the running issues and my body probably wouldn't have run even if I wanted it to.
Look, I know these things are all excuses. I know if I really wanted to, I probably could have gone out running on Wednesday in the rain, even though I would have been miserable. But I also know that I needed to listen to my body, and my quads definitely did not seem to be up to the task. I know that when it comes down to it on October 9th, I'm the one out there running 26.2; nobody else is gonna do it for me. The marathon training thing can be monumentally difficult sometimes. I have been challenged so many times. But I am learning, and I am growing. And I know I have the strength to do it.
So this morning, for my week 12 Sunday run, I was set to run 12 miles. And I fully intended on it; mentally, I felt great about it and even though the humidity was so brutal, I was willing and working to push through it. I did a ton of stretching and felt very limber and strong, despite the fact that I had only gone for a few walks during the week. I went five miles down the Lakefront Trail and turned around. Despite the humidity, it was a beautiful morning! Unfortunately, somewhere around mile 6, my foot (the one afflicted with plantar fasciitis) started feeling tight. It never really went away or got better. I found myself faced with a dilemma in that moment. Push to the end? Or shift focus to a slower distance.
Before heading out, I had promised myself that I was going to reclaim my training plan, so to speak, that I was going to overcome the excuses and the doubts and make it happen, starting with this 12 mile run. The practical part of my brain, though, kept telling me that I shouldn't play through the pain--because what if I made it worse? So even though it kind of bummed me to do it, I called it at 10 miles. 10.2, to be exact.
Besides the issues with my foot, I felt great! I was in a good spot, and would have been able to keep a slightly faster pace if it hadn't been so very humid out. Running 12 miles didn't seem like a big deal to me. I was excited, I was energized. I was well prepared as far as fueling and hydration, though it almost felt impossible to keep up with all the sweating I was doing. And I shaved 25 seconds off my time from my long run last week, which feels awesome! Definite progress. It was a great run, even if it wasn't quite the length I wanted.
This all leads me to tonight: here, on the verge of week 13 and another new month of training. This is it. As of right now, there are 41 days until the Chicago Marathon. Excuses will not cut it; I need to listen to my body, of course, but I need to stop being scared to push it if everything feels fine. I can and I will! This is the time to make it happen. I had a conversation with Tom the other night in which he asked me what I expected other than to be sore from marathon training... and he's right. I am pushing my body to the limit--of course I am sore! But I am also getting stronger. And I know I have the tools and ability to succeed. Even though it feels like I'm at the bottom of a roller coaster lift hill, slowly inching towards the top, I am excited for the next 41 days and whatever comes next.