Monday, April 2, 2012

The Big 2-0! Let The Taper Begin!

I usually try to get a little artful with my blog titles, but this was too big of a deal to give it any other name that what it really was.

Twenty!!!  20!!  T-W-E-N-T-Y!!!!  That. Is. A. Lot. Of. Miles!

Let me just say, I feel like I have shook my funk and I couldn't be happier.  In all truth, this run was not really much to write home about.  Everything leading up to it is truly the big deal.  Let's discuss.

It is no secret I have been struggling personally.  I have been having a very difficult time managing my home right now and it is truly overwhelming me.  This was my undoing before.  It is what spurned me to run again.  It has been the reason I have loved every. single. minute. of. training.  Running is the only time I can truly be free of my responsibilities and just be me.

Going into this run this week I was just not mentally prepared.  I knew no matter what I would run all 20mi, but I knew mentally it would be a struggle.  I also "hoped" that I could move on mentally so I could finish all 20.  I was terrified that if I didn't get my troubles out of my head, every pounding step would be twice as hard as it already was going to be.

Pre-run Waiting For My Alma

Post 20 With Alma Throwing Down The 2-0
All day Saturday I had this overwhelming urge to run all 20mi on my treadmill.  It has been raining for days and quite frankly I could not stomach another run out in the cold pouring rain.  I know that running in the rain all these miles has given me a mental toughness that has been earned.  That does not mean I enjoy it by any stretch!  I put out my feelers to all my running friends who have been at this for much longer than I have been and the general consensus was that I needed to get out there and just do it.

I want to interject here that this will be the second time writing this blog post.   Thanks Blogger....grrrrrrr

Knowing in my mind that I was going to run outside, I did the only thing I could do, Pray!  And pray I did.  A Lot!  I was blessed with the best running weather I have had in all my training runs.  The temps were perfect and the sky was full of broken clouds that let blue sky and sun filter through.  It. was. amazing!  The wind made it cool enough for my long sleeve shirt and pants.  If not for said wind, I would have been overheating!

The day did not start off as great as I would have liked it to.  Miss Pooh had a rough night and then woke at 500 followed quickly by my Moo waking at 520.  I let Alma know we should meet closer to 800 as I tried in vain to get the children back to sleep.  Why I try to do this I will never know (insert eye roll here)

We got to the parking lot and frankly I just did not know how to proceed.  It was kind of overwhelming. What clothes should I wear?  How much water should I burden my sherpa with?  These were all just things that were prolonging the inevitable.  I needed to take those first steps quickly or I was going to loose my backbone.

Let's address my sherpa for a minute.  Alma and I have gotten to know one another over the last few months as she has braved many long runs in the miserable rain with me.  She is great company and we have very easy conversations.  Even though she is great, I never expected her to be along for 20mi!  She recently has had a plantar fasciitis problem in her foot and hasn't been able to run.  She decided she would come along with me on her roller blades for all 20mi.  Now of course my first thought is GREAT!!!  Who wouldn't want company for the several hours it was going to take to run the 20mim.  My next thought is "she is F@!%ING NUTS!!!! I have only roller bladed a handful of times.  All of those times resulted in humongous blisters on my insteps that made my feet hurt for weeks.  I mentioned this to her in the parking lot and she looked at me and for just a mere second hesitated.  I should add here that I think this is only the second time at most that she has been on her blades and the other time was quite some time ago.  She decided to go for it though and was not only in for the whole 20 but also was willing to bring water and other provisions for me.  Really?  Who does this?  Someone who is AWESOME!  That's who!

So we set out on our adventure.  Alma had to work through a few growing pains on her blades and I had to work through the mental demons that threatened to end my run.  The start was slow going.  I knew I was going to have to empty my head and Alma was more than willing to listen to all my woes.  She listened with an understanding ear and didn't try to fix it or give suggestions as I think she understood that these are not problems that can be fixed rather things that will work themselves out with time.  It was just what I needed.

This went on for quite awhile.  By mile four I was still in a funk and worse yet everything on my right leg from my knee down was off.  I had a pull on my medial knee, my shin was burning and worse yet my instep was on fire.  Can you say Plantar Fasciitis!!!! I was scared shitless.  I told Alma we had to stop a minute.  I took a Gu and stretched.  Alma looked at me and asked if I wanted to walk?  I said No let's just go and see how it goes.  Miracle of Miracles-I was fine!!!  Not only was I fine, I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders!  It felt like in that moment I had let go of everything that had been holding me back all week.  It was amazing.  And just like that we were off on our adventure-for real this time.

We still went slow.  I just knew that I had to keep a light pace and Alma joked it was a good thing as she could not blade much faster.  She worked her way up hills and held on if she could for downhills.  I tried helping her, but she insisted that I run and not get tripped by her.  Honestly I was more scared she was going to fall down and hurt herself even more!

The middle miles were pretty uneventful.  We made a potty stop at McDonald's in Kenmore and at mile 10 (the turn) we ran into Melanie whom I had run with earlier in my training.  She is currently training for the Settle Rock N Roll in June.  It was great to catch up with her.

The mood was still light and I still felt really good.  Sometime around mile 12 it started to feel real.  We were still a long way from home and it felt like it would be a log time before this whole thing was done.  I think it was right around this time Alma looked at me and said "I'm pretty sure you are going to feel better than me tomorrow" and honestly I kind of knew in my gut I would too.

When we got to mile 15, it felt finally like we were in the home stretch.  That is my normal 10mi turnaround and I know every step of those five miles like the back of my hand by now.  I know every curve every hill.  More important, I know that we would most likely be running into a head wind any minute.  I was not disappointed.  Within the mile the wind was blowing in our face.  Now I'm not talking little puffs of wind or a light sustained breeze.  I am talking full on sustained wind that screams down the river valley.  It was worse today than any other run I have done.

By mile 18 we were into new territory and the wind continued.  Alma tried her best to keep the mood light but with the wind taking her words away it was all I could do to focus on keeping my feet going forward.  I think she could feel my need to focus so we just pushed on.  It wasn't bad.  It didn't hurt.  I wasn't tired,  It was just something I wanted to put my whole self into.  I wanted to be in the moment with every step I was taking.  I wanted to be thankful.  I wanted to savor it.  In some ways, I didn't want it to end.  I truly felt free.  I felt like this was just me and only me.  No matter what no one could take these miles and steps from me.  I did this all by myself (well Alma was there but I think you get what I mean)
Right about mile 19.5 Alma had a fall and I felt do awful for her!  I wanted to stop and help her, but I told her if I stop I won't be able to start again.  She urged me to just go.  She was back on her feet in no time. We both finished the 20mi and I think we both felt it was an amazing accomplishment and we were both glad it was done.

Poor Alma.  As suspected she ended up with a huge blister on her instep and her ankle was bloodied.  In the end what she thought would be an easy cruise along with me, turned into a very challenging workout.

In the end, most of miles were around the 10mm mark and I was down with that.  If I finish with times like that I will still be under the 5hr mark (by quite a bit) and that is all I hoped for when I started this journey.  For awhile it seemed like I might smoke those times, but I have been brought down to earth and have been humbled by my training.  I know that I will finish all 26.2mi healthy and strong.  I will finish and that is the most important part.

So two weeks of tapering and we are off on a pivotal trip as a family.  There is still work to put in, but from here on out it is all about staying safe and healthy and sane.  This has been such an amazing experience.  I can't wait to see how it will all play out!


  1. You did awesome! You are going to rock your first marathon. Don't get too focused on time and soak it all in as you run and you will have a wonderful time!

    Alma is amazing. I was injured and couldn't run my first marathon. I downgraded to the half at NODM in 2010 and knew I would be walking, or mostly walking, it. She messaged me that she would be walking the half, too, and we should meet up. That morning, race day, was the first day we met. We had amazing conversation and such a fun time -- it is one of my most memorable races!

  2. Congratulations on completing the big 2-0! Let it be such a relief and confidence boost! Time to TAPER!

  3. I'm so happy for you Sarah - you did such a great job focusing, especially during those last miles where the wind was brutal. I truly loved my marathon training experience and want to get at it again as soon as I am able so thanks for letting me live vicariously through your experience (esp since I didn't get to finish mine). I can't wait to hear about your race. Enjoy your race day, milk every step as the culmination of your journey.