Monday, March 20, 2017

26 Miles then You go Crazy

I never understand how difficult running 26 miles really is until I am struggling and wondering “why in the hell am I out here”? I know many would say if you have run the race 13 previous times you would know how difficult the race is but not necessarily. The LA marathon is the one marathon I run per year and outside of running the LA marathon and the NY marathon in 2006, I really have stuck to half marathons and shorter distances throughout the year so I have a short memory as soon as I complete the race and then I am quickly reminded as soon as the race starts as to just what I am up against.

For more than three weeks, I had what felt like a golf ball on the bottom of my foot. I couldn’t step down with pain and oddly it went away when I would do any training runs and as if that wasn’t enough, I pulled my hamstring 2 weeks ago on a simple run so going into yesterday, I had a lot of anxiety and tons of nerves. I do it to myself each year where I nearly go nuts worrying about the various little bumps and bruises and how they will play out in the race. I am never really worried about finishing the race but I always have anxiety about whether enough I will have enough dog in me to grind out an ugly race which was exactly what the race was yesterday.

I felt fine when the race started but there was a quick concern when I hit mile 2 and I just felt a bit lethargic and not yet into the flow of the race. I walked up the hill by the Disney concert hall which is what I always do and I had a plan to really pick things up around mile 6 and 7 but it was like I was running in mud. My foot pain wasn’t a problem and my hamstring felt great but as I read another runner post after the race yesterday that her legs felt like lead from the start, I realized it wasn’t just me but when it happens in a race, you have to just put your head down and grind. I tried to distract my mind by throwing on my music and zoning out and by mile 9 I was in a nice groove and I started to zoom past runners left and right but I felt around mile 16, things slowed for me. I cruised to mile 17 and 18 but I knew my legs were heavy and I would really need to do whatever it took to pull this one out.

There isn’t much of a blueprint to turn things around in a race when things start to go south. I always say it is time for a gut check. This is where you need turn into a psych patient and therapist all at the same time. I talk to myself non-stop and I look for any and everything to give me a spark. Any momentum you get, you need to turn it into miles for as long as you can. I was in a zone until around mile 22 and 23 when my legs cramped badly. I was forced to walk until the cramps subsided and then I would shuffle until I could run again but it would only last so long before I had to stop again. I had been in this ongoing battle with this muscled up black guy who I couldn’t shake the whole damn race and here he came creeping up at mile 25. As he edged in front of me, I could see he would stop eventually and then I would pass him but it wasn’t meant to be as my legs seized beyond my control and I could barely walk without limping so I had to concede.

It is funny how running goes. When I was struggling mid-race, I had all these thoughts. I wondered if I could do this another year or whether or not I had trained enough or did I have the mental toughness I use to but that is exactly why I run the marathon each year. That mental battle is what catapults me to keep moving my feet regardless of the pain and hurdle in front of me. I know that I will have to suffer in order to succeed and not many are willing to go through that type of pain and misery just to receive a medal. You can run 26 miles anywhere or at any time but there are very few chances to run amongst 24 thousand others looking to achieve a goal of their own and I couldn’t be more supportive of each and every person out there regardless their reasons for running. It takes balls and courage to step on the start line and it is commendable to do an event of this type of magnitude where you risk toenails and severe dehydration and pain for days afterwards but you will also gain resolve, mental toughness and a chance to build on that for the future. Some run the race once and that is enough for them and that is ok because honestly, it isn’t for everyone. I don’t encourage people to run it because it is not for everyone but if you are ready to push yourself to the limit and know what you are made of, the race will be waiting for you next year!!

Let your legs do the talking!!

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