This was going to hurt. It was going to be ugly. It wasn’t that I went off the deep end with food and beverages the past two days, but I certainly didn’t eat as much healthy food, drink as much water or get as much sleep as I normally would with a two-hour training run scheduled for the weekend.
But it would not be nearly as bad as I could imagine it to be. In fact I was discounting all the things I gained from the weekend — like a great 36 hours with friends, so much laughter my abs hurt and a marathon of Ironman broadcasts on Universal Sports.
That bit of insight still a few hours away, I prepared for the gym by putting on my iPod and jamming out to Lady GaGa on repeat. This served as my happy dance to start the day, however, it also distracted me from packing my Body Glide. On long runs, this is a mistake. The details aren’t pretty. Just trust me on this one.
At the gym, my long run workout posse consisted of Sue, Herm and Nicole and we lined up on four treadmills. A deep breath and I started out easy, gradually increasing the pace. After 30 minutes it was time for tempo intervals. These were long: 15 minutes at a tempo pace/heart heart then 5 minutes of recovery. I had three of these on the docket.
Immediately my inner dialogue set the tone: This is not a referendum on the Miami half. This is a workout, plain and simple.
The first tempo set was at a quick pace, frankly a bit quicker than my intention, but within reason. I stayed with it, gutted it out and thanked my higher power for my five minute recovery.
That was freakin’ hard.
The second tempo set I backed it off just a bit — nine seconds slower than the first one. Oh, it was still hard. Really, really hard. The final five minutes I cranked it up a click of the treadmill to a faster pace and pulled out every positive self-talk mantra I could. “You’re not giving up on yourself,” my head said. “Trust yourself.” The refrain for “Just Dance” by Lady GaGa went through my head.
OK. One more to go.
By this point, I’ve been running for over an hour and my thighs are starting to hurt from chaffing (enter the longing for the forgotten Body Glide). Back to my tempo pace. Back to positive mantras.
This was starting to hurt and the word “can’t” started to creep into my mind along with the idea that I could back off just a bit. But no. I’m going to get through this. And then I thought of those old Ironman races from the day before. And I smiled.
Among the stories of champions, like Craig Alexender and Chrissie Wellington, were the up-close-and-personal inspirational stories. One year featured the story of a man who was a double leg amputee below the knee. He also was a bit of, um, a bigger guy. He made the Ironman cutoff. So my friends pointed out to me that if he could be an Ironman, so too, could I. Also, when you see the 64-year-old blind grandfather cross the finish line, well, any reasons why you can’t do something when you’re healthy and happy seem more than silly.
I thought of the overweight guy with no legs and for the final two minutes, picked up my pace by 20 seconds.
Hard part over?
Not quite. I still had 35 minutes left to run and even though it was an easier pace, it wasn’t pretty. The tempo intervals were over, so I could slack off, right? What if I walked or ended early?
It didn’t matter what my actual pace was today, especially for this final stretch. It was important I kept running and focused on my mental game. And gradually over the final half hour, I increased my easy speed to finish strong.
Last year during my half marathon and later marathon treadmill runs, I suffered. Survival was the name of the game. I had to bump down my pace, run slower than I had planned, slower than I could have run because I started to think that it was too hard.
This time, doubt crept into my head and was banished thanks to the support of friends, the belief that I am indeed stronger than I think and the help of Lady GaGa.