On Sunday, I went to bed with all sorts of sinus issues and the night got progressively worse when I couldn’t get shut-eye due to the non-stop sneezing and sniffling. When daylight hit, my nose was red, my eyes had massive dark circles around them, and my head felt like it was stuffed with cotton. I Spent most of the morning pining for some rest and questioning whether I should run the five miles scheduled for the day. I’m typically not an individual who needs eight hours of sleep to feel completely rested, but the four and a half hours of interrupted sleep I had the night before were making me wish I was Rip Van Winkle. When my two-year-old mentioned being tired and wanting to take a nap, I was tempted to just cuddle up next to her and sleep as long as time would let me. But I didn’t oblige. Instead, I mustered the strength to put on my running shoes and headed on over to the treadmill. I told myself that the only goal was to run five miles and not worry about time. Despite my desires to quit in the middle of the run, I kept the slow motion of placing one foot in front of the other and managed to complete the five miles. While I was so darn proud of myself for sticking to the plan, I was still feeling extremely exhausted and craved sleep. Unfortunately for me, I did not have enough time to shower, dress, and nap before my daughter woke. I did however, go to bed as soon as my daughters went to bed on Monday night (9PM) and managed to get 9 hours of sleep!
While I felt 75% better on Tuesday, I was still not 100%. Nonetheless, I was looking forward to running (yes, again, on the treadmill) my six miles stronger than my previous five miles. Started off my six miles slow, but by the second mile, I felt like I could push my body harder and managed to average an 8:52 pace. I was very happy with my performance and incredibly thankful that my body was in the final hours of fighting off whatever was ailing me.
In the afternoon, I went to do a Crossfit session and I knew that the 55 repetitions of heavy back squats would make their presence known for Wednesday’s five miles.
Tender. That is the only word I could use to describe what my quads, hamstrings, and glutes felt like while running. “Ouch.” Legs moving. “Ouch.” Legs landing. “Ouch.” Muscles pounding. And so that physical motion and verbal expression continued for at least the first two and a half miles. It was until the third mile that my muscles were warm and relaxed enough for me to finish the five mile run without the constant awareness of pain in my legs.
Six miles. On the treadmill. Still sore. But, I made sure to use this run as a great physical and mental training run. You see, something strange happens to the mind and body once you hit mile twenty on the marathon. It is that point in which you have to fight, fight, fight. The point in which you have to dig deep and answer the barrage of questions and thoughts that attack your consciousness.
“Why am I doing this.”
“Why is it 26.2 miles long?”
“Why can’t a marathon be 20 miles long?”
“I still have 6.2 miles to go?”
“I am so ready to be done.”
“I don’t care about my time anymore. I just want to finish.”
“When is that mile marker coming up? This mile has taken too long!”
On top of the thoughts, you’ve got the physical pain working in cahoots with the mind. The chest starts to slouch because the shoulders feel too heavy to hold up. There’s creaking and discomfort in your knees and ankles. Your legs feel like lead and each swinging motion of the arm feels like you are holding heavy weights. If you are unfortunate, you’ve got chafing or rubbing, and if you are cursed, you’ve got bleeding from chafing or rubbing. The energy gels no longer have their magic, and you can smell the sweat before it makes its way out of your pores. The screams of the crowds are muffled, and you are doing everything you can to either keep up, or pass the person in the purple shirt ahead of you whom you’ve had your eye on for motivation the last ten miles. But you have to dig deep to not give in to the desires of quitting. You have to remember how far you have come both figuratively and literally. You have to remember your journey, and why you are running to begin with. And then you are moved with emotion and the salty tears join the sweat on your face because you have not quit. Because you are going to cross the finish line in spite of you.
Thus, while my six miles were painful, they served as excellent marathon training! Much to my surprise, the six miles were not as dramatic.
Four easy miles on the treadmill. That is how I wanted to keep them because by this point, I was so sick of the treadmill. I wanted to run outside, and I wanted for my husband to be home after being away for twelve straight days. I wanted someone else to put my daughters to bed, to help me with the litter box, to put out the trash, to get up of bed at the crack of dawn because the two-year-old refuses to sleep in. I wanted to sit on the couch and feel like I could count on someone else to attend to the needs of two smaller human beings. And I was so thankful that the position I was in was only temporary and how I would perhaps be an overly stressed out individual if I had two daughters and zero support.
My husband was finally back home and I could alas run outside! It was so therapeutic to simultaneously move my legs and see the scenery around me change. Plus, my friend Sarah once again joined me, which made my nine miles quite a treat. Once I got to thinking about how sore my legs had been, I realized that perhaps the combination of my sinus (allergies?) and the stress of single parenting may have taken its toll on my recovery. My nine miles were both challenging and healing. I was so grateful for having survived the last two weeks alone.