A Tale of Two Runs

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

I know Dickens wasn’t talking about marathon training when he penned those famous lines, but, hey, they fit.

The highs of a great run! The adrenaline boost of running huge distances! The feeling that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to! Oh, the highs. So very, very high. And probably so very, very annoying to anyone around you who isn’t a distance runner or some other sort of adrenaline junkie..but so very, very fun for you!

The lows of soreness, achiness, fatigue – or, god forbid, injury. And the soul crushing kick in the face of a bad run. Especially a Very Bad Run. The Very Black Mood after a Very Bad Run.

Let’s start there, shall we?

Friday. Oct 3, 6:30 AM. I am frantically trying to get ready to head out and squeeze in a 17-miler before an early conference call.

NOTE: I WAS TRYING TO “SQUEEZE IN” A 17-MILER. I could probably stop here, as you can surely guess how it all went down.

It is dark. Cannot find headlamp or LED flashers. Settle for pumpkin flashlight, reflective vest and a FRIGGING GLOWSTICK NECKLACE to avoid roadkill status. (also change route on the fly to one with sidewalks and streetlights for the first few miles, until sun comes up, since my set-up is not quite up to par). I can’t tell if I’m going running or trick or treating.

Accidentally hit button on my Garmin that LOCKS THE FRIGGING SCREEN. Garmin is essential for this run, because I will be cutting it close to my conference call and I need to know time and distance to make sure I don’t stay out too long. Google how to unlock Garmin. Crisis averted, but I’m rattled. Oh, so rattled. And running late.

Realize I haven’t eaten. Stomach not feeling so great. Still, gotta eat. Make ½ a peanut butter sandwich and wolf it down. Feel worse. Head out anyway, because I have no choice.

Head out for the 17 mile run that I am “squeezing in.” Listen up, Grasshoppers: DO NOT “SQUEEZE IN” A 17 MILE RUN. Honor the long run. Do it when you can run it properly (i.e., not with your heart in your throat and your stomach churning the entire time).

Not surprisingly, this run SUCKED. I was tense and my stomach was horrible. Could barely get through 20 oz of water throughout the entire run because I was thisclose to throwing up. Ate an energy chew, gagged, and ditched those, too. My first bathroom stop (of many) was less than 2 miles into the run. Did the entire 17 miles on the energy of that stupid peanut butter sandwich and panic. I may also have cannibalized myself. By the time I arrived home (yes, I made my F%$#& call, in case you were worried), I was depleted, both mentally and physically.

It was a Bad, Bad Run.

By Wednesday, I was texting Colby asking whether she even thought I should even bother running Philly. And should I switch to another sport? THESE questions from a fool who will run 16-milers FOR FUN! Needless to say, she verbally smacked me in the kindest way possible and told me to chill.

I don’t know if I’m more ashamed of my crappy run or what I let it do to my head.

Strike that. I’m definitely more ashamed by what I let it do to my head. My body had a tough run, but it finished. There’s no shame in that. But my head should know better. If I could be even half as supportive and accepting of myself as I am with others, I’d be in much better shape.

I repeat: If I could be even half as supportive and accepting of myself as I am with others, I’d be in much better shape. I should probably have that tattooed somewhere.

Fast forward to yesterday’s run, which was a 19-miler that turned into a 20-miler because it felt so good. Rested, stomach great, no wardrobe or gear snafus, and probably most importantly, NO RUSHING.

I felt so good yesterday I half expected to turn around and see those Disney bluebirds on my freaking shoulders.

It was a Great Run and I rode the high of it for the rest of the day.

But of course, I was no better of a runner yesterday than I was last Friday. It was just a different day with a different set of conditions. Each time I pushed myself as much as I could, and that, really what is key. Looking back, I probably am prouder of getting through the Bad Run, because that mental tenacity is what will get me through “the Wall” and any other rough spots in a race. In fact, the only thing I shouldn’t be proud of is letting one bad run screw with my mind so much. For shame!

6 weeks to go until Philly.

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. Indeed.


26 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Runs

  1. I needed this post today.
    I am so guilty of “squeezing in” long runs. Then I don’t recover properly. And then I feel like crap. Then I quit running for a week until it’s time to squeeze in another one. At least that’s been the pattern lately.
    I’m glad you had a chance to get revenge on your 17 miler and that you coasted through 20. That’s the spirit. Now send a little bit of that motivation this way.

    • I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do. but sometimes you need to step back and look at the larger picture. Missing my 17 miler probably would have not hurt my training as much as mentally beating myself up for days over it.

  2. This was so funny! I’m sure it was really difficult but it’s a great read! I just started running a few months ago and my first marathon is just a few weeks away! 😀

      • Well, I saw the 50 states marathon club website and decided that was an inspiring goal. So I chose 50 marathons and if I can complete this first one, the Route 66, I’ll start traveling for the rest starting in January! One every month for the next 4 years! Mixing it up with some ultras, triathlons, and trail running so will be fun! The marathon schedule is one of the pages on my blog.

  3. Not rushing is key for me when it comes to runs of any length, but especially long runs. Bad runs definitely mess with your mind, especially if they happen to come right before taper. Ugh. Nothing kills marathon excitement like a bad run before a taper.

  4. Ugh. I swear no other sport allows it’s competitors to mentally torture themselves and question their abilities from one bad day. It’s amazing how much doubt a single bad run can instill.
    I’m glad your longer & more recent run went better though 🙂 & that’s such a good attitude to remember the bad run to get you through the wall! What else are bad runs good before besides showing you what you can actually make it through? 😉

  5. Runs are so Jekyll and Hyde! Glad you had a nice bounce back run!! And a glow stick necklace … seriously??? Haha lol 🙂

  6. I think that the bad runs always foreshadow great runs (unless you are injured, in which case, don’t run, idiot). And they help us preempt future back runs by serving as “great” reminders of what not to do.

  7. Glow sticks? Where the fuck we’re you going? To a Running Rave? Christ. If I hear you’re brining a pacifier next run, I’m staging an intervention.

    Ahhhhh The Crap Run. So bad, yet so good. Without the bad, the sweet wouldn’t taste so damn good. And I wished I had saved my texts to you that day. I knew you had it in you T-Bone. So proud of my BFF. And promise me- don’t squeeze in shit. Unless you’re squeezing into some leopard skinny jeans….

    Just sayin’.


  8. Aww come on Tina! I did chuckle when I read…squeeze in a 17-miler…such a marathoner. That being said, everyone has their relapses but you (and Colby) both know that distance running is probably 95% mental…at least that’s what I tell people who ask if they could run a marathon. Glad you powered through and had the pleasure of following up the bitter with a sweet.

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