The night before, I prepped all my stuff, loaded (or thought we did) two e-books onto my phone plus my music so that I could switch things up a bit to get me through, got my recovery stuff ready and went to bed nice and early. I slept in bed with my 5 year old so that my almost 3 year old wouldn't keep me awake all night begging to nurse (he's supposedly night weaned, he just doesn't agree). (Yes, we bedshare and practice child-led weaning. If that bothers you, ignore it and move on.)
Instead, my 5 year old kept me up most of the night as he asked about every 10 minutes if he could go into Mema's room to play as that was the plan in the morning so I could get out the door. After a night of no sleep, I grabbed my phone to check my playlists that my husband had finished the night before. Blank. Sigh. We tried a couple of things to fix it and finally gave up. I was stuck with my shorter long run playlist that I'd just have to repeat. Still holding it together, I ate my egg and toast and got ready to head out the door.
|Husband trying to take pics of me with reflective gear and flash - tricky.|
|Ready to go.|
|Covered in ice.|
I began to think over and over again with every step, "I can't." The voice in my head was relentless. You can't even run a whole mile at this point. Why did you ever think you could run a marathon? You are so stupid. Just give up now. You can't count this as running. I watched as my average pace on the Garmin crept towards 13 minute miles. I plodded along. I realized that if I kept saying I can't then I wouldn't. I tried to stop the voice inside my head. Each time I heard I can't, I responded I can do hard things. I am strong. It became my mantra. (I thought of you, Ann.) I fought hard. The voice continued. You can't do this Jamie. You can't. I can do hard things. I am strong. Just give up. This is dumb. You are failing. I can do hard things. I am strong.
Somewhere in mile 12, I broke down. The running wasn't getting easier. My walk breaks were more frequent. I couldn't imagine going one more step. I stopped on the side of the road and sobbed. I called my husband knowing that crying as hard as I was, he would let me accept defeat. He didn't answer. I called my friend/unpaidandoverused running coach to beg her to let me quit. She didn't answer. I looked at my Garmin. My average pace was 12:58 minutes per mile. I had a quarter mile to go before I hit 13. Then there would only be 5 miles left. If I decreased walk breaks and just kept running, I could keep it under 13 minute miles which had become a mental goal for me. My long runs are usually 11:30-12 minute miles for reference.
|Mist rising out of the valley as the temps rose from 9 degrees to a balmy (ha) 16 when I finished|
|Finishing as strong as I could|
But I kept fighting. I focused on recovery. Eating. An ice bath. Getting myself to physical therapy. I avoided judging until I had time to process things. No, it was not my best run. Yes, it was slower than my desired long run pace. Yes, I took walk breaks which were not something I planned to do, and not just a few.
|Done. My husband told me to smile for the camera. This was all I could do.|
Those things don't excuse my performance. They don't excuse my lack of training. I know I'm not in the place I wanted to be. But I did a 18 miler. I focused on mental toughness and pushed my through the absolute worst run of my life, and I refused to give up. I might not have been smiling Paula, but I just kept moving. For that I am proud.