In the long run…


First of all, my laptop is dead, therefore I am dead.  Let’s just say I woke up the other day and found it lying in a pool of water.  Help?  For now I’m using my Grandma’s laptop, but I need all of my stuff!!

Anyway.

I can hardly believe that I’m going to be running a marathon in 20 days.  20!! Part of me is ready to get it over with and the other part feels like I need another month to prepare. Yikes!

And while we’re on the subject, I think it’s time to give you the biggest marathon update of all.  I’ll just be straightforward: my goal was to raise $3,500 by early September and run the Munich Marathon on October 14.  If you do the math, you’ll notice that the 14th is not 20 days away.  Well, I didn’t reach my fundraising goals.  I’ve hit $1,300, and I am very proud of that, but it’s not $3,500.  A few weeks ago I hit the $1,000 mark, and it became clear that I wouldn’t hit my goal in time to purchase the plane tickets, arrange my work schedule, or secure a spot in the race.

I sort of foresaw this happening, but I was so set on getting to Germany.  Somehow, I thought, I’ll raise enough funds. Optimism is wonderful, but it can sometimes be blinding.  Eventually, I could no longer pretend that it would all work out. And when Sean, the man who is always encouraging me to push through adversity, suggested I let go of the Munich race, I knew it was time.

This change of plans was upsetting at first.  I LOVE Munich, and with so many people knowing about my plans to run there, I felt like I was failing every one.  But as much as I really enjoy fundraising for NF, it’s also a relief.  There is a lot going on in my life right now: wedding planning, job hunting, etc. not to mention the actual marathon training.  Knowing that I was way behind on fundraising wasn’t helping my stress levels.

In the end, I’ve decided to race the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Marathon, instead.  I’m still running for NF since I only needed to raise $500 to race locally.

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Like I said, it was a hard decision to make, but I’m so glad I did. It’s not a failure, and it’s not a case of giving up.  Rather, I accepted the reality of the situation and adjusted my goals.  I am so proud to have raised almost $1000 for Neurofibromatosis and I plan on working with NF Endurance for a long time. I’m still raising money for the foundation and I’m deciding on my next race. Also, I want to thank everyone who has donated for the cause; your support has made every solo training run feel like  group effort and I am continually taken aback by the kindness of all of the Smoothie King customers who “feed the pig” with a few bucks when they buy smoothies.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to the fun part: Long Runs!!

Over the past month, my long runs have been between 18-23 miles and I think I’m growing to like them.  The day before a long run (which usually falls on a Friday or Sunday) is full of nervous anticipation and a strange combination of excitement and doubt. 

My first really long run (23 miles the day after my 23rd birthday) was kind of terrifying. I had done a couple of 18 milers on the treadmill at the gym, but now I was outside and on my own.  The thought of being so many miles away from my car – and knowing I had no choice but to run all the way back – really made me question myself as a runner.  Could I actually do this?

On top of it all, I was testing out a fuel belt for the first time, and had a super-annoying, super-runny nose.  Between constantly readjusting the jostling belt and having to blow my nose several times during each mile, it wasn’t the most carefree run in the world. I also started the run way too late, so I was racing against the sunset.  I was on the Katy Trail near downtown St. Charles, and it’s not the safest place at night.

I also stumbled upon this creepy scene.  It was like the elephant graveyard in The Lion King!

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After that less-than-ideal run, the rest have gotten progressively easier.  I’ve also switched routes: for some reason, even though it was just a flat course, I don’t like that particular stretch of the Katy Trail.

A few weeks ago I ran part of the actual marathon course downtown:

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I can’t really justify driving to the city for each run (not to mention the fact that it’s not always a safe place) so I’m doing most of my runs on the trails in Missouri Research Park or on the Katy Trail in Augusta.  It is jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Run 1: 22 miles

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Mile 18 and doing just fine:

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Wildlife spotted: 4 snakes (I think they’re cool, I just don’t want to step on them!), a family of cardinals, and my Yoga teacher, Joe!

Run 2: 20 miles

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Feeling a little more confident and rocking the Kleenex-in-sportsbra look.

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Take the road less-traveled!

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Obstacle course!

Wildlife spotted: an escaped peacock (weird, right? But it was definitely a peacock) and a deer.

Run 3 (yesterday!): 18 miles

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It was cold yesterday morning!  Time to bust out long sleeves!

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I was really, really happy in this picture.  Yesterday’s run was just fantastic.  I didn’t get nervous or scared beforehand because I knew I could run that distance.  I was also in a really good mindset and I was able to just let my mind wander rather than obsessing over how many miles I had left.  The run pretty much flew by!  I felt so relaxed, and I didn’t feel any pain or fatigue until the very end when I cranked out a speedy last mile

Also, I have fewer pictures from this run because my legs just didn’t want to stop.  During past runs I stopped occasionally when I saw something I really wanted to take a picture of.  For this run, I only have the beginning and the end!  Oh, and my new friends:

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They were only a few feet away from me.  This was so, so cool!

All in all, I’m really happy with how much my running has improved.  Before the half marathon in April, I hadn’t gone farther than 10 miles, and that was like torture.  Now, 10 miles is the best and it’s a pretty easy run.  I’m certainly a little scared of the marathon, but at this point, I really trust my training.

Here’s to 20 days of tapering!

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