Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My marathon journey: A rocky course to get to the starting line

This full marathon journey training has been challenging on every single level for me. It's been surprisingly a thousand times harder than the training for my first half marathon. Sure, the miles are more, the training more intense but it's not so much that.

The first time around, I had so much support, people sincerely "rooting" me on -- that feeling of love really carried me through the times that I questioned the journey. But, this is where I must put on my big girl pants and muddle through. This is no one else's journey but mine.  Those who do support me, however, have risen to the occasion and have really kept me going.

There have been the other obstacles too. I've been hit with injuries, confronted with time issues, buried in a winter of snow, even struggled with finding the right sneakers for my 'over-pronating' wide feet that couldn't seem to settle into the right fit. I've battled my own insecurities, hours of tedious treadmill long runs, travel, stress, depression and whatever else we all have to deal with on a daily basis.

This course has not been fast and flat - it's been uphill and a bitch the whole way.

I'm feeling woefully under-trained - last year I didn't miss one yard of the training prescribed for me, this time around, short runs have been altered, long runs aborted and things have been willy nilly.

my running buddy - literally on the path during my last long run
Last week I did a long run of 14.5 miles. It wasn't easy but it was a great long run and I silently thanked the running Gods for that much needed gift.  This past week I was to run 16 -- I went out there fully prepared and with the mind-set to do it -- until hail/rain/gusty wind put an end to it - I wound up with about 12. My schedule has been tweaked once again from Coach Leslie - I have not given up.

I just need to get to that finish line. But I need to push myself to the starting line first.

There have been more times than I would care to admit that thoughts of quitting has bubbled up.  Every day - I consider raising the white flag. I could drop to the RNR half and easily complete that - receive my medal and 'rock out' in San Diego. But that medal wouldn't erase the letters that would be branded on my brain - 'DNF'.

So with all of this - why am I doing this?

I ask myself this question a lot - especially during the second half of a long run...

Some days I struggle to answer it but at its very core the answer is simple - I made it a goal. I decided to tell myself and the world that this is something I want to accomplish - this is something I can accomplish. Giving up now would do nothing for me. Will I be trained enough? Will I be able to do 26.2? I'm not even sure anymore but I would rather try and fail than never try at all. If I 'fall' at mile 16 or 18 or 22 - I'll be disappointed - probably devastated but quitting before I even get to the starting line? It's just not an option.

It's not about being perfect - it's about persevering. I've read from other runners that it's often not their "PR" races that is their proudest accomplishment - it's the race where everything went wrong, the weather bad, the wrong sneakers packed, the forgotten gels or illness… where they faced a really tough battle and got to that finish line anyway.

It would be easy to quit and probably even met with some support and relief from some folks in my life - but I will not quit. I will not give up. I've always given up when things got tough or uncomfortable. If I'm ever going to really change my life then I have to be willing to suffer through being out of my comfort zone. Life throws us curves - it's not the time to curl up into the fetal position and cry (as much as I'd like to some days!) It's the time to work harder and dig deep and believe.

"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living" -Nelson Mandela


PS: Congrats Jason on your amazing Half Iron-Man finish!! So proud and excited for you - check out his race report here.


Caroline said...

You will be so proud when you finish this one. I admire you for not giving up! You can do this!
The struggles make us stronger, always, but you know that already.

Sara said...

JEN - I am right there with you with training for my full. It's been rough and my training has suffered. We're in this together!!!!!!!! I believe in you and I know you can get to the starting line and give it your all - I'll be right there rooting you on from start to finish! You're awesome and you inspire me to run and keep running to reach my goal of finishing 26.2!

Lesley @ said...

Girl, you are STRONG! And if I see you crawling at mile 20, I will drag you to the finish line. Perfect training plans are rare... it's how we get over the obstacles that makes it all worth it. WE will both cross that finish line... and I can't wait to celebrate with you after. SO SO SO looking forward to it. Finish what you started, THEN you can commit yourself without regret or resentment to those that are finding it difficult to support you right now... Now, let's go get this 26.2!

Jason said...

As I tweeted you I wrote a long comment but it didn't stick so I am writing it again.

Quitting is not an option. It just shouldn't be in your vocabulary. You know that you can do this. You know that you are ready. You know that what you are doing is bigger than you. You are an example of what determination, inspiration and motivation looks like.

Life will always crumble around us but those that are great and have the WANT TO will always succeed.

When you cross that finish line and fist pump and smile from ear to ear all the bs from the past year will mean NOTHING and you can say that you are a marathoner. Think about that for a moment. YOU ARE A MARATHONER.

How awesome is that.

You got this. You will own San Diego. Go down to Oceanside and tell my finish line I said hello and that I caught him when it seemed like some days I would never get there.

Mrs G said...

I am now following you. I just finished my first half marathon and signed up for my second in June. I plan to do a full in December, eeerk. Keep with it, it will be worth it in the end.

Jen said...

I love you guys - thank you so much. My gratitude is immense. I will do this.

Welcome Mrs. G!! Thanks for following and best of luck on your journey too :)