Saturday, August 2, 2014

Training For My First Marathon

Saturday morning rolled around. I was supposed to leave the house at 8:00 A.M.

Being a professional insomniac and having a low level of iron, I’ve been feeling tired and exhausted all the time.  I dragged my body out of bed at 8:00. I was behind my daily routine and to top it off I had not prepared my running gear the night before! Preparing for a long run takes a bit of time. I prepared my drink, got my gel, belt, clothes, put on my shoes and Garmin only to realize my Garmin was not working!!! It wasn't fully charged despite having been plugged in. I got annoyed. Today wasn’t one of those days that I could go for a run without my watch.  I was supposed to run 25K and I needed it to be logged in and documented for my marathon training. I plugged it back in and while waiting got some stuff done. It was just before noon that I started to head out.

I love warm summer days.  As soon as I stepped out I could feel the warm air wrapping around me like a blanket. There was a nice occasional cool breeze that made the day so beautiful and perfect for a run.

I usually give myself a good 2 to 3 km of warm up run to allow my legs to wake up. The runs usually start with hilly areas so I rarely have a good start. I’m usually able to pick up the pace after the warm up and recently can’t hold that pace for long due to severe low iron. I may hold a pace of 4:15 for 1K and 5:30 for 2K and then it’s gone back to 6:00+. I started feeling good after the warm up and picked up the pace. As I waited at the red light I turned around and another runner was smiling at me saying “I was able to catch up with you now that you stopped!” We both smiled and I said I still have 20K to go and won’t be holding this pace for long! We ended up talking about her previous marathons and where she runs now. She was finishing her run and heading home. She said I love your singlet. “It is sharp”! I told her it’s from Black Toe Running in Toronto. She said yes, I've heard of them. And with that she was gone and wished me a great run. 

I choose a different path each time for my long runs. I prefer running on long roads close to edge of the city. I don’t like running in neighbourhoods with lots of twists and turns. I also get bored running in the parks. My daughter was funny the other night saying we have run so many times in that park that I can tell when there’s a new spot covered by goose poop! This wasn't there the day before! haha! Yes. Running just outside the city allows for a more quiet run, listening to the birds, seeing horses along the way and makes it more bearable for me. At 7K I realized I was really hot. I found some shade and drank more water. Even for someone who loves the summer heat, this was a bit much especially when running.

I kept plugging away. There was no wind, it was too hot, and I was too slow dragging my heavy legs. I thought to myself maybe I should turn around and do a long run tomorrow morning. Then I started playing the famous game of “I’ll run to that tree”, “I’ll run to that stop sign”, I’ll run to that traffic light”….and I kept running. 

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” ~ George Sheehan ~

On my hydration belt I had 3 Nuun hydration bottles and one water bottle. I had run out of water. Got a cold water bottle from a gas station and as I walked outside it started raining. I smiled and kept running. I was feeling better with the cold drink, and with the rain my concentration and focus was more clear. Then I ran to two older men who were walking with canes. They smiled at me saying you’re enjoying this, aren't you? I smiled back saying “I love running in the rain.” Then I met an older woman on a wheelchair who was trying to put her raincoat on. I asked her if she needed help. She smiled saying yes, please. I put my water down and helped her to get it on. We wished each other a great day and I kept running.

Up to that point, I was upset and frustrated by my own sluggish and slow run. You see, I started running seriously since July 2013. I was at my peak training this past winter and was doing great. Each time I plugged my Garmin my pace was less than 6:00! I secretly was wishing for a Boston Qualifying time for my first marathon. I was imagining and dreaming a great fast run. I was telling myself I have 7 month to train. But then in April everything changed when I learned I had low iron. With it came fatigue, heart palpitation, dizziness, and slow speed.

Then I started thinking…

I was physically able to run. What if my doctor had said I won’t be able to run for the rest of my life? What if I was on wheelchair? What if I did not have my legs? I was running. My running might be slow. I may never qualify for Boston or I may. Who knows? But that does not matter any longer. A wave of relief washed over me. I had nothing to prove to myself or anyone else. I was doing my best. I was lucky to be able to run. Slow, sluggish, and shuffling my feet. I was running. I am a runner. I had a clarity that was much needed.

It is during my runs that I get my answers. One day, I find my answer while running parallel to a doe galloping in the meadow, another day is through a big beautiful horse’s eyes calling my name to come closer, and today was the older people with their canes and wheelchair. Life is fragments of all these moments put together. I was lucky to put my running shoes on and go for a run.

At 20K, I got to the splash pad and not caring about my time any more, I ran under the running water. A grandmother smiled at me and I asked her if she could take a couple of pictures. She said yes but wasn't confident and kept saying my grandkids know how to do this. I said you’re doing great and showed her how to do it. She took some very nice pictures. The grandkids were intrigued and kept staring. I smiled and thanked them. 

Thank you Alan Brookes for your words of support after my tough run.

Wet, tired, and in pain, I kept running. The next 4K wore the slowest I have ever run. But my thoughts were to just make the kilometer! When I got home my Garmin showed 24.30! I turned around and kept running until 25K was reached. When I got home I could barely go upstairs. But I was so proud of my achievement. I had run the distance I was supposed to run.

Today, I ran 29K and felt better. I had less stops but still a very slow pace. I kept reminding myself that the goal is to run a marathon. The speed does not matter at this point. Thank you to the lady who cheered me at 24K saying “You look good! keep going.” It really does make a difference when we’re struggling but someone cheers you on and you find that extra ounce of bravery to push forward and put a smile on your face.

“You only ever grow as a human being if you’re outside your comfort zone.” 
~ Percy Cerutty ~

I love all my running Tweeps. My timeline is full of tweets about running, fitness, running fashion, etc…but what I look for is those who with honesty talk about their struggles and triumphs, are humble and proud, are supportive and caring, those who make me smile, and those who accept me for who I am and choose to follow me.

I am lucky to be able to run and have the support of our running community.

Follow my journey at @nomadicrunner45 on Twitter and Instagram.

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