Gut Check Time

Without going into the unattractive details, suffice it to say that last week I had a stomach bug.  Like Alexander might say: A  terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad stomach bug.  Laid low in my bed for days I was.  I had no appetite and no energy even after the bug packed its suitcase for greener pastures.  In short, I was literally wiped out by the illness.

But on my horizon this past weekend was an 18 mile run.  An 18 mile run to get me ready to handle 26.2 miles in only 9 weeks.  You’d think that I would forgo the 18 miles until I was sane or at least had some meat back on my body.  You’d think.  But I’d already postponed the 18 miles for 3 weeks, due to Thanksgiving and a pulled groin muscle.  And I am the kind of person that feels I can only accomplish something of this magnitude if I’ve practiced it fully before.  I won’t just stop training at 14 miles and expect that, come marathon day, I’ll be able to easily handle the remaining 12 miles.  No.  I want to run the full length ahead of time so I know that when I “hit the wall” on the race course, I’ll be able to manage it.  And that means I have to practice long distances in increments; I can’t magically go from running 14 to running the next  scheduled long run of 22.  To prevent injury, I needed to get something in between.  Hence, the 18 miles.

So I laced my shoes, grabbed my Gatorade and  Powergel packets, and headed out the door.  Oh, and in subfreezing weather too!  Sometimes, I am just not smart.  My own head gets in the way of real logic, you know?  And I ran.

But by mile 7 – only 7! – my leg and hip muscles started cramping.  I was faithfully drinking my Gatorade (I think I’d probably been through a keg of the stuff since the bug hit) but in all honesty, my body was in such a weakened state, I had no reserves to pull me through.  After all, I’d lost over 5 pounds the week before.  Yet… I continued to run.  I ran when I didn’t want to, and I ran when I probably shouldn’t have.  I managed to run the full 18.  I found the (stubborn) will within myself to fight against better judgement and discomfort to continue on.  I did it.  I shouldn’t have done it – I recognize that now – but I did it anyway.

And I learned a few things this past Saturday:

1.  Really, there’s a reason people say to listen to your body.

2. Sometimes we delude ourselves by looking at the big picture and not paying attention to the smaller one at hand.  Losing sight of details often gets us in trouble in the whole scheme of things.  I really could have injured myself by pushing when I had nothing to give.

3.  On the flip side, sometimes it’s easy to get so wrapped up in minutiae that you lose sight of the goal.

3.  For every goal there is an end in sight.

4.   I’m a fighter.

5.  I always have the ability to make choices.

During my run, I doubted I could finish, let alone manage 26.2 in 2 months.  I’m still not sure.  I did manage to fight my way through those 18 miles, so I’m hopeful I can do it.  Matter of fact, I do like a good fight…

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