The last time I tried to run 18 miles was January 2016. I came up with some horrible back and forth route, and when I got out of the car that morning I realized I didn’t want to run. At all. And if I did run, I would hate every step.
Hating every step of 18 miles would almost certainly lead to hating running. Inexorably. And I can’t afford to hate running.
So, I didn’t. I went home and drank coffee, after emailing the marathon I was training for and asking to drop back to the half. In fact, I emailed them before I even left the parking lot. I felt great that day, like I was recognizing what I needed to do to take care of myself in the long run (yeah, avoid the long run in support of the long run…whatever).
I haven’t attempted 18 since then. In fact, I’d not gone beyond 13.1 until a few weeks ago when I ran 14. And the 16 last week. And then 18 today. It felt a little magical. Reclaiming something I had to give up in order to…survive is really over-the-top here, but it’s all I can think to say.
I ran 3 marathons last year (2015), along with 5 or 6 half marathons. I ate horribly, cross-trained worse, so by the time that 18-miler came, I had absolutely nothing left.
A year (almost) later, I found it again. Not that this was the greatest long run ever. It wasn’t. Decidedly wasn’t, as it happens. I had to walk (way more than I wanted to) because my legs were so stiff from sitting on the floor all day yesterday in front of what passes as my desk at home. I had to more or less trick myself into completing 18 by forcing myself to run 6 miles out (so that I had to run 12 at the very least) and then running a 1 mile out and back from there 3 times. Because I could pack it in at any point and still have more than 12.
I can’t begin to say how much today’s run is reflective of my life in general, particularly the having to effectively lie to myself to get something done (like the laundry I am presently ignoring…). That need to engage in cognitive dissonance (because, you know, I do know that I am lying. I do have that much together). That’s why the last 18–the one that didn’t happen–was so remarkable. I got honest for a moment. I didn’t just run (sorry) headlong into whatever. And, in fact, I didn’t run more races that I planned to run than ones I actually ran this year.
I’d call it recovery, but I did 18 today, so that seems a touch off.
So, next week is 20. The last time I did 20 was during the Long Beach Marathon in 90+ degree weather. It was wretched. I listened to “So Far Away” on repeat for miles, practically sobbing (except I was too dehydrated for tears) in both exhaustion and something in the lyrics that just kept beating me up (and keeping me moving):
Sleep tight I’m not afraid (not afraid)
The ones that we love are here with me
Lay away a place for me (place for me)
‘Cause as soon as I’m done I’ll be on my way
To live eternally–Avenged Sevenfold, “So Far Away”
It was the penultimate line, in particular. Possibly because I was just not sure I’d make it to the end (I did. couldn’t cry then either).
Today, I listened to The Stage on repeat, and “Angels” in particular (well, “Sunny Disposition” got several repeats as well. It’s the horns. Love the horns. Okay, and the voice.). They’ve gotten me through every race since 2010. Really grateful that they are still creating. Really grateful for each and every step I took today, even the ones I needed to lie to myself to take. And especially the ones that only happened because I got lost in their music.