I keep going back to this place in my mind. I'm on a training run. The sun is out and beating down. I notice I use the pejorative term "beating down" instead of something less negative. The thought enters my head, "you should not run the full marathon." And on that, I crumple from a 9:30 pace to walking.
It happened like this quite a few times before I put in word to my coach that I was thinking of changing the distance. Joe Henderson is a great and wise coach. Here is the exchange that took place before this last September's marathon in Mt. Angel. Joe's response, the compassion that he used in his carefully selected words, still moves me.
ME: Hi Joe. I think I would like your input on this. I'm concerned about the heat and considering asking the race directors if I can just run the half. This has come up for reasons other than just the heat, though the heat is the main factor. After the temps went up over 70 for the second half of the Eugene marathon in 2012, it really wiped me out, more so than normal. . . I don't know what to do. My sensible side is telling me to stick with just the half and have an epic run and possibly a PR but my training and my ego are saying run the full. Any coaching advice that might help me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
JOE: With your special circumstances, the answer is easy to give and hard to hear. Switch to the half. You've surely never been better trained for one, as you come DOWN in distance. I'll send you race director Darwin. Rasmussen's email. Tell him straight out about your MS, and he's likely to be accommodating.
And, of course they were totally accommodating. And I did end up having a great run, despite the rising temperatures at the end. The thing is, though, I could not foresee how very disappointed I still was in myself and what I counted as "wasted effort."
Now, I have written about this here, I have talked about it endlessly with anyone who will listen, I have complained to my doctors about me throwing in the towel. But it wasn't until recent--another 19 mile training run-- when I started to come around on this change in my plans last Fall.
I found myself back at that place in my mind: I'm on my 19 mile training run. I'm solo, listening to the pod cast of TED talks I had downloaded earlier. It starts to get hot and I start to get slower. ONLY THIS TIME, I see the sun glinting off the water and feel the warmth on my hand, arms, shoulder (it's to my right) and I think to myself about the transference of energy beaming into me (bare with me; I know this is hokey). And then it is okay to walk, but I don't want to. And then it is okay to take a break, but I press on. Before I know it, I'm sailing.
Yes, heat is certainly a factor for me, but it does not have to mean the end. And it did not mean the end in September.
Since that 19 mile run a few weeks ago, I have had fatigue with sunshine. I have walked, dejected and disappointed. But then I remind myself about the sparkling sunshine and then energy. This fills me up. This is enough. And sometimes walking is amazing, too, all on its own. Besides, if I ever could not walk, that would be the thing I would want more than even running. See how that works...