the tipping point

Prior to today, I’ve completed 4 half marathons. The longest distance in one go that I’ve ever run is 13.1 miles.

14.5run

Today I completed 14.5 miles. I’ve officially crossed the threshold that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Once I cross the 13.1 distance, the full marathon is more real. It’s sort of like the moment I crossed the 50% completed mark, in grad school. At that moment, I knew that I couldn’t drop my program. How can you drop when you’ve gotten than far?

strava14.5

This morning, I woke to 66F with light breezes. I leisurely enjoyed my morning coffee before heading out the door. There was no need to race against the rising sun today – real early fall weather had arrived. The first 9 miles of this run were joyous and dance-like. I didn’t follow my exact path in West Fairmount Park, instead opting to noodle around a bit before taking the road down to West River Drive. Once I hit the Schuylkill River Trail, my pacing fell apart. I’m not sure if it was the distance at that point or the utter boring familiarity of the East Falls Bridge to the Art Museum. I’ve ridden my bike down that section more times than I can count, in my decade in this City. I’ve run that section so many times. This is the second half section of the Philly Marathon and I am not excited for it. Some people like running the same routes and find the familiarity a comfort. I am not those people – I prefer a bit of the unknown thrown in, otherwise it ends up acting like watching the timer on a treadmill (also a boring way to run, in my opinion). I managed to pull it together and run through to the end of the long run, and for that I am thankful and can honestly see major growth in my running life. I started running again 4 years ago in order to push through those mental barriers and emotional walls, and it used to feel harder than it does today. Today, on good days in beautiful weather, even 14.5 miles feels easy.

That’s kind of awesome.

10 weeks to go…

fa·tigue / fəˈtēɡ / noun

15 weeks away from 26.2 miles. I’m burnt. I’m burnt on summer. I’m burnt on heat. I’m burnt on having to eat constantly. I’m burnt on having to run so much. I’m burnt on wanting to sleep all the time. I’m burnt on thinking about it.

fa·tigue
fəˈtēɡ/
noun
  1.  
    extreme tiredness, typically resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.
  2.  
    a group of soldiers ordered to perform menial, nonmilitary tasks, sometimes as a punishment.

When I say I have training fatigue, most assume I mean the first. I should probably mean the first, but in my heart I really mean the second. 15 weeks out, I’m wondering what the hell possessed me to decide to do this and why the hell I’m basically already mentally committed to doing this again next year on my birthday, in Anchorage. Ok well really, that one is more about going to Anchorage, but you get my point. I feel fortunate that so many of my friends and loved ones fall into 2 camps – runners who are all “hell yes” about me training for and completing a marathon and non-runners who are all “hell yes” about me training for and completing a marathon. It makes it easy to have such a supportive social network, when usually my excuses for things are “I’m too tired” or “Sorry, I have a long run tomorrow…” or I’m talking about how much I hate running in the heat or how hungry I am all-the-freakin-time. I sound like a broken record that is slowing getting deeper in this hole of mental fatigue. I need to figure out how to change my mindset, but really this is where we are right now. From internet-ing, this is all normal. For me, this is not normal and is indeed a big ole downer on my usual happy life. My weekly runs vacillate between the awesome and the sucky, and therefore my moods are also up and down in direct correlation.

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I wonder what life post-marathon will be like. Will my days feel full of empty hours to gloriously do non-running things? Or will I merely find myself hitting the streets for 5+ mile runs for, horror of horrors, the fun of it? Will running have officially replaced some of my more time consuming hobbies? Will I start printing again? Will I actually finish knitting some socks and sweaters that are on my needles? Will I cook elaborate meals that have nothing to do with “fueling” again? Since I’m pretty self aware, I have a feeling I’ll be embarking on a whole new playing field of winter running this year, so in all honesty I should probably start up’ing my winter running gear wardrobe from the 2 items I currently have to maybe 3 or 4 items. I would say that I look forward to running without a mileage goal or a pace goal or a specifically orchestrated calendar balancing running and cross training, but then again I actually like competing against myself with every step of the run. Not sure I can give that up so easily.

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All that being said, quiet hours spent watching the sunrise or sunset while having little else to focus on and having to be entirely in the moment, is a pretty great way to pass the time. So I guess there’s that…