Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sixteen Miles? Yeah, I Got This.

This is what was on my schedule:

This is what I ran:


And this is how I looked immediately afterwards:



Now, let's talk about how it all went down. Because it wasn't all pretty.

I knew the day was going to be a scorcher, so I made it a point to be out of the house and running before 6:30am. I expected the heat but I wasn't ready for the humidity. I mean, it's San Diego, and we just aren't used to weather like this.

The first five miles felt great. I could feel myself wanting to push faster, but after last week's run, I knew better. I chose to stay near my training pace and speed up at the end if I still had the energy.

The next five were tougher, mostly because of the heat. I was not hydrated enough and I wasn't carrying enough water. I know, rookie mistake. And by mile 8, I was in trouble mentally. I started thinking of a hundred reasons why I should stop.

  • I'm too hot. I could be a heat casualty if I keep going.
  • I made all my long runs this month. Quitting this one won't matter.
  • I'm already exhausted. I won't make eight more miles.
It was one excuse after another, all "proof" that I needed to stop. And I almost did. Seriously, I nearly stopped short and quit. But then I realized, my body was not the problem. I was hot and thirsty, sure, but that wasn't my problem. It was mental. I was bored. I wanted to be done with my long run.

As soon as I realized what was happening, I was able to adjust. I started thinking about September, my running plans for the whole month, the marathon coming up in October, etc. I kicked around ideas for my Super Hero costume for Ragnar Napa, too. And it wasn't really about fixing anything or making any decisions. It was just about engaging my mind while my body ran the miles.

And it worked. I got myself through my half marathon distance and knew that I would be able to hang on and get my sixteen miles in.

Mile fourteen nearly did me in, though. By this point, I was way overheated and in need of a long water break. I did a quick water bottle refill and then decided to walk and try to cool down. A quarter mile later, I felt like I was as ready as I was ever going to be. I kicked it back into high gear and got through the rest of the run.

I'm proud of this run. Yes, I walked a quarter mile. So what? I am confident that if I had not taken the extended water break, I would not have been able to get through miles fifteen and sixteen. So it was a good decision that kept me from becoming a heat casualty.

I'm proud of this run because it was a clear mental victory. I realized that I was sabotaging my own success and I took control of my thoughts. Instead of reacting, I chose to consciously think my way through the moment.

If running truly is a metaphor for life, this long run was a moment of clarity. I can choose to quit or I can choose to go after what I want, but I can't do both at the same time.

And I have to say, getting what I want feels pretty damn good.