Day 98: Uncle

I had 12 miles to do today. Around mile 6 I started dropping F bombs like they were a mandatory pause between words. Around mile 8 my legs said, “Screw you, bitch; we’re outtahere.” Around mile 10 I wanted to hit my head against a tree because for some reason I kept thinking I only had 10 miles to do, and when I realized I had to go 2 more, yes, please shoot me now; that would be fine.

Now I’m home, my legs are crying, my back hurts, and of all the stupid things, my feet actually feel okay. I’m starting to see the mental aspect of marathon running, when your body’s saying, “For the love of God, stop this!” but your brain is saying, “But I have 6 more miles to go! If not now, when?” It’s like staying in a bad marriage but you stay in it for…well, some reason. In both cases, self-flagellation is probably involved.

BUT on the happy side, I dropped 5 whole pounds between when I woke up this morning—and had breakfast and a cup of coffee—and when I came back from the run. Naturally, as I tried to lie down and stop sweating, my mind strayed over to, “Hey, if I lost 5 pounds on 12 miles, I’ll lose at least 10 pounds on 26, right?” Really, I am dropping some serious weight (AT LAST!) and it feels good. My friend Karen told me to come raid her closet but in another month, I could very well be down to a size 10. And in another month I’ll still have 2 more months of training to go, and then the 20 mile practice runs will start.

Oh please, just shoot me now?

But also on the happy side, had this been a half marathon, I would’ve PR’d. I did some hellacious hills. I’ve taken to calling the hill that leads to the Hay Barn “Depression Hill.” I had to do it twice and almost did it a third time—until I realized the flaw in my math, and that going that way a third time still would be put me 3 miles from 12—but the idea of climbing that bastard one more time? Oh hell no. Something about beating myself up that hill brings out some very dark and dangerous thoughts in my head. The kind of thoughts even therapists shy away from addressing. Had I done that loop 3 times, I could’ve knocked out 6 miles, but I just couldn’t make myself do it. Turned out to be a good thing, though, because I did the compost loop by the EN complex instead and realized where I can get water.

The heel-to-toe stride has made a ridiculous amount of difference. My feet can handle the distances and my knee didn’t go on strike. I get a much better push off a heel strike, and at one point up Depression Hill, I found a burst of speed and went for it. Not on the second trip; that was where my mind was edging into Hannibal Lecter territory, and I didn’t dare go the third time.

So today I did 12. Next week, 14; likely at Kelly Drive, up to the Art Museum, back to Falls Bridge, and then up to Manayunk and back for the balance. The week after, 10, which will feel like a vacation. Then the REAL fun begins.

After the run, I took a shower and then laid on the bed, willing myself to stop sweating. For a while I looked up at the curtain rod over the window by the bed. I’ve hung my race medals there, and looking at them always makes me feel better. Each one represents something I did that I wasn’t sure I could do. The last one on the rack right now is the Broad Street medal, but come November I want to hang two new medals: my Philly Marathon medal and my OAR team medal. I really want those, so that’s why I’m doing this. It’s not the having something that they really represent. It’s the earning.

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