The 7.1 Mile Mark

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2013

I’m not a double digit runner. There. I’ve said it.

Training for a half marathon has been one of the craziest rides I’ve ever been on.  It started with a simple Couch-to-5K program where I struggled and pushed and hyperventilated my way through every interval. Yelling at my iPhone, begging it to tell me I was permitted to walk for 90 seconds. Fast forward about a year and now I call 3-4 milers going for a “quick run” and have two 10Ks under my belt. (I know, I know. That doesn’t guarantee a spot for me in the Runner’s Hall of Fame, but for a gal who has been “not a real runner” all her life, I’m holding my own.)

So in theory, the next logical stop on my trip up the runner’s ladder was a half marathon. But the thing of it is, I hate really long, double-digit mile runs. And if I’m being perfectly honest with myself, my wheelhouse really exists in the 8-miles-and-under realm. Ok, ok. 7-miles-and-under. That is when I feel my best. That is the distance where I come home and think to myself, “Hot damn, girl! Look what you just did! And you can still walk and not spontaneously cramp up or cry for no reason!”.

So it amazes me how at mile 7.1 (yes, there may be some mental work at play here, too, and I get it), my body totally falls apart. It doesn’t want to go any more. My knee starts hurting. The outside of my foot feels like I’m hitting straight pavement. My hip aches. My back side strikes me with sciatic nerve pain. My left side tenses up and my neck cramps. My legs feel as though they weigh a thousand pounds each. Everything. Hurts. And I’m thirsty! So thirsty. But I can’t drink or I’ll get a side stitch. (So who’d like to join me on my next long training run?! Bueller? Bueller?)

Does all that make me a crappy runner? Hells to the no. But I’ve learned my limitations. I put a lot of pressure on myself. To make a goal, reach it and not suck in the process while getting there. In working my way to a half marathon, I think I’ve reached the suck. But I’m actually OK with that. This whole thing has been such a learning experience. I’ve tested my body at each new distance and have fought through some injuries. And since I’m too much of a chicken-shit to go out on a really long run with my runner’s group (I don’t want anyone to witness the 7.1 mile combustion), I’ve been doing it all solo.

My last long run before the half marathon is slated for two days from now. I’m tackling a 12-miler. And even after everything I just wrote about hating the distance, I’m excited for it! I want to see how far I can go. How far my body can push itself. How far my mind will let me push myself. You just never know what’s going to happen until you lace up and get out there. And who knows, there may just be life for me after the 7.1 mile mark after all.

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