Let me rephrase. This post should really be titled “How 30K Kicked ME in the Butt.” This past Sunday I ran my first 30K (18.6 miles, but let’s just say 19 since that sounds better). First 30K = automatic PR. Don’t you just love those types of races? For me, this marked my fourth (out of five) winter series race. There’s one more on tap for February 5th, a 20 miler. My marathon taper “officially” begins on February 12th. I can’t even believe I’m using the word “taper” right now. I’m also using a lot of “”. I feel like “that guy.” Ok, let’s get back on track here.
I was very careful to not repeat the awfully crampy events of January 8th which I detailed explicitly for you in “Bugs and Runs.” That was miserable but not until afterwards. This 30K? Miserable starting ~ mile 7. Too early in my opinion. I felt pretty good and confident going in. The start was a chilly 10 degrees but I was dressed appropriately. I may have even been slightly overdressed and I wound up unzipping some of my layers at mile 2 for some breeze. No worries, though. I cooled off and didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Biggest problem that day? Mindset.
Running is a funny sport to those who may not understand it. It’s just running, right? Anyone can do it. Absolutely. Many people have the ability to run and a subset of those can even do it really well. But ask any runner of any ability if they’ve ever felt like their head wasn’t in the game and I bet you’d receive an overwhelmingly positive response. Mindset is, without a doubt, 90% of it. Ok, maybe not 90%, that’s pretty arbitrary, but you know what I mean. It plays a huge role.
I really started to panic a bit and I wasn’t even halfway done. I was concerned about hitting the wall early so I took a Gu at mile 7 and another ~13. I made sure to carry enough hydration (fuel belt with 2 20oz. bottles + a handheld 22 oz. Crazy much? Yes.). I added new beats to my iPhone the night before. None of that really helped much. The scenery was lacking once again (this is a huge deal for me. I need pretty things to look at.) and I just felt very heavy all around. My little pep talks to myself helped, but the effects were fleeting. And then, you know what? Something kind of funny happened. I immediately snapped back into it, realizing I had 4 miles left to go. I’m sure the Gu helped move things along. Four miles? That’s it? I knew I had it at that point.
Running is hard. Getting your head in the game, at times, is even harder. But you know what? Never, ever, ever sell yourself short. Trust in yourself and your training. Drag yourself across the finish line if you have to. You’ll be happy and proud that you did. And, you’ll be even stronger than you were the day before.