“With every broken bone, I swear I lived.” One Republic.
I’m in the taper period for the New York City Marathon, which is less than two weeks away. I can honestly say that training for a marathon the second time around has not been any easier, and certainly in some ways, it has been harder. During the training roller coaster of the last couple of months, I’ve made some promises to myself, and I find myself already rethinking them. Given that I’m a generally type A stubborn person, I thought that maybe if I share some of these promises in this space, I’ll be more likely to keep them.
For one thing, the first time around, hitting 14 and then 16, then 18, then 20 miles were all new distances to me. Every time, I questioned if I’d be able to do them. I’d simultaneously dread and look forward to the new distance. This time around, there were no new distances to look forward to. Between LA training and NYC training, I maintained a 10 mile base, and I thought that first 14-miler would be a piece of cake and that I wouldn’t need to be as rigorous about my pre-longrun rituals the second time around. I went to the Culture Club concert the night before the 14 miler and didn’t get enough sleep, and of course, it was hard, hard, hard. The night before the first 16 miler, I went to a wine tasting. I made sure just to taste each wine, but still, 10 tastings later and very little sleep and I was practically in tears for the last 2 miles. I came home and lay on my bathroom floor and could not get up to get myself in the shower. In an Elizabeth Gilbert Eat, Pray, Love moment, I promised myself that I was done going out on Friday nights until after the New York City marathon. I promised that I would hydrate all week and go to bed early every Thursday and Friday night. I swore I would become best friends with the torture device called my foam roller again. I promised that if I could just get off the bathroom floor and into the shower, I would never sign up for another marathon again.
I kept the promise of not going out any more friday nights…. going to bed early thursday and friday…. hydrating all week. I actually enjoyed the friday nights in with a book or watching TV with my daughter. Sure, reading would be more enjoyable while sipping an earthy full-bodied Cabernet than water, but it was fine. That first hydrated and rested 18 miler was actually not too bad and I thought I had it all figured out, until I didn’t….. Despite being hydrated and rested, my first 20 miler was brutal.
In that first 20 mile run, around mile 13, I started to have some pain that started in my right hip and went all the way down my right leg. For the next 7 miles, I felt that pain with every single step, and it’s intensity just progressed. From mile 16 on, I felt nauseated and weak. I looked at my Garmin every minute and I made 1000 promises to never sign up for a marathon again. When the 20 miles was done, I thought that there is absolutely no way that I would be able to keep going for another 6.2 miles on marathon day. I questioned deferring my NYC marathon acceptance for one year despite donating a hefty sum of money to Team For Kids just to be able to run it. Once I finally sat down for brunch with my running mates, I sent my husband a series of texts. “My run was really hard today. I almost died. I don’t know if I can do New York. I can’t drive home right now. I need time. I thought you may want to know I’m still alive and you still have a wife.” His text back, “Your second 20 will go better.”
During that brunch, I told my friends that NYC is going to be my last marathon, and then a couple of people started talking about the Paris marathon…. and by this point I’d had a few bites of real food and looked at my running partner and said, “Well…. if you ever end up deciding to run Paris, maybe I would break my promise and run one last one with you.”
My second 20… it did go better. It went as close to going great as a run can get. While I’d like to say that it’s all because of just running more, I know that for me a lot of it has to do with weather. That first 20 was on a hot sunny day….. the second 20 on a cool cloudy day…. and for someone with my heat intolerance and temperature regulation issues, that makes a big difference. While that second 20 was great, I’m more proud of that brutal 16-miler and first 20-miler…. of being able to keep my promise and getting it done one painful nauseated step at a time when every part of you is telling you to quit.
So here is the biggest promise that I have made to myself: I will not immediately sign up to run the LA marathon just after crossing the finish line of the NYC marathon. And while I sit here in taper time, I’m not positive I will keep that promise. I picture myself at home or even on a regular 5 mile run while everyone is out there running LA, and I can’t imagine it.
What’s the need to run marathons when I so enjoy going for a 5 or 6 mile run several times a week? I think it’s because there is nothing like those very painful last 6.2 miles of a marathon to remind you of just how strong you are… just how determined…. that when you decide you are going to do something, you are going to do it…. that even when it’s hard, you can still keep going…. maybe slowly and painfully, but that you can keep pushing through….. that if you can handle those last 6.2 miles, you can handle anything…. that nothing will ever break you again…. no one’s words, no life event…. that you have the strength and the determination and the love and respect for yourself to pull through any situation…. that’s what those last 6.2 remind you….and the security and the confidence that comes from that knowledge about your strength to pull through even when you are feeling completely mentally and physically defeated…. they make every other sacrifice that a marathon training season requires worth it.
So what will happen after NYC…. I don’t know…. we’ll see which of my promises were made to be broken… “Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad
The only way you can know is give it all you have
And I hope that you don’t suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you’ll say I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived” One Republic