I was never interested in running a full marathon. I have always thought that 26 miles sounded ridiculous: a distance that could cripple a person. Why do that? I don't have to announce a battle to anyone. I was content with running 13 and trying to improve my time incrementally.
But when I came home a couple of month ago and told Chuck about the Utah Marathon, with its half marathon option, he asked, "Well, why don't you run the full marathon?
Because it sounds like a good way to die?
Because I'm too old?
Because I don't have time to do all the training?
Because even if I had time, I don't want to spend it all running, running, running..
But then, we were talking about it in front of his son one evening, and Glenn said, "So are you running the full marathon, or just one of those wussy half-marathons?'
"The full marathon, of course."
Goading works on me.
So then came all the training: hills, trail running, "short" runs of 6-7 miles. Weekly long runs that become longer and longer.
A few weeks ago, I ran 16 miles for the first time, and it went well! I was stoked. Chuck helped me by waiting for me along the route with Gatorade, Gu and encouragement. I could envision myself actually accomplishing a marathon!
Then, last week, I went out to run my 18-mile run, and only made it 11 miles before my knee started to hurt worse and worse. With 6 miles to go, I had to call Chuck to come and pick me up. I iced my knee and Chuck was not discouraged. "Take a week to rest. We'll try 18 miles again next week. This is totally do-able for you. You're just tired from your trip to Washington."
True, my knee stopped hurting after a few hours; so I was all set to really nail the 18-miler today. I was up at 5:30 AM. Vaseline between my toes; peanut butter granola bar, waist pouch-thingy with Gu packs, a water bottle, Walkman, etc...
At about the five mile mark, my knee was starting to bug me enough that I noticed it. Just before mile 10, I had to stop and consider my situation.
"If I stop, I will not be able to run the Utah Marathon - I will have fallen too far behind on my training. If I keep going, I risk serious injury."
I was upset, too, because without intending to, Chuck had madet his into a big deal for me. I really wanted to show him that I could do this. At mile 10, I told him that my knee hurt, but that I was going to power through. At mile 11, I really thought I could. I told myself little parables of mental toughness, and told myself that any messages that came from body parts below my hips were no longer going to be accepted.
At mile 12, I felt like I was running in dive flippers. I couldn't step up onto curbs any more. I saw Chuck waiting for me in front of an elementary school and ran up to the car. I just leaned against the car and thought about all the time I had put into this project though the summer; and how, if I got into the car this morning, that was the end.
So, this is the part where I give you the alternate ending - in which I force myself to continue, finish the18 miles and emeerge on the other side of the pain.
NOT. I got into the car and Chuck drove me home to rest my knee.There won't be a marathon this year. Maybe next. In the meantime, I will pretend that I am content to run half-marathons and just work on improving my time. Incrementally...