when in doubt ...

So, I had every intention of writing my standard Monday weekend recap post, but it's going to have to wait until tomorrow. (But I seriously can't wait to share my weekend with you. My mom and sister got me the most amazing post-birthday present and Mixie and I brought down the house with our homemade banana cake with whipped cream icing!)

If you are allergic to pathetic whining and pity parties, I encourage you to stop reading this post immediately. But if you're into that kind thing, then by all mean, keep scrolling.

I had a freakin' terrible run on Sunday morning. And I mean terrible. In fact, if you go look up the word "terrible" in the dictionary right now, I guarantee you there would be a picture of me crying on the trail right next to it.

Go on, look at the dictionary. I dare you.

Wait, it's not there?

Well, I guess it takes a few days for those kinds of things to process and update.

Anyway, I was scheduled to run 11 miles and mind you, this is my second to last long run before the Monumental Half marathon on November 3rd. I ran 10 miles the weekend prior and had a hellacious time getting through that run, too. So Sunday was my big chance to redeem myself and rebuild my confidence for the race.

Not only did my 11 mile run NOT help to rebuild my confidence, it shattered my already bruised ego even more. It slammed my confidence into the ground and kicked it repeatedly with spiky motorcycle boots.

I can honestly say Sunday's 11 mile run was the very first run where I had to pause my Garmin so I could stand to the side of the trail and cry.

I was a mess. I was literally standing hunched over a pile of leaves, sobbing into my hands and repeating "I can't do this. I can't do this," out loud. I didn't even care who heard me. It wasn't a big secret. It was obvious that I was struggling.

The first 5 or 6 miles went by without incident, but then I became overwhelmed with a general sense of fatigue. My legs were sore in a way that is typically reserved for how I feel immediately after a half marathon. My hips felt tight. My thighs felt tight. My calves burned. I had a cramp. My running pack was squishing my stomach.

And the entire time I was thinking, "This is going to be a bad run. This is going to be a bad run." (Which clearly didn't help my mental well-being.)

And I was right. I had to stop at the top of a hill sometime after mile 6 and get my bearings. Then I pitifully ran another half mile or so before I had to stop again, the whole time watching my average pace drop slower and slower on my Garmin.

I tried to reconcile with myself that I would just try to get through 9 miles. Or maybe just 8. But then I had an internal battle with my ego that forced me to get the mileage in, no matter how many times I had to stop and no matter how slow my pace became. Despite one or two more walking breaks, I was practically crawling the last quarter mile ... but I did it. I averaged a 9:14 min/mile pace, which is painfully slow compared to all of the work I've been doing the past few months, but it was done.

This weekend and the weekend prior are the first times I've had to stop and take walking breaks during a long run since the very first half marathon I trained for back in the summer of 2010. While I understand there's nothing inherently wrong with pausing to walk, I let it get me down because I have outrageous expectations of myself. If I can't make it through a training run without walking, what makes me so sure I'll be able to get through the actual race without walking?

As I watched the average pace on my Garmin grow slower and slower, I felt like I could see my dreams of a PR slipping away. I know a personal record isn't the be-all and end-all of racing, but after my horrific performance at the 500 Festival Mini in May, I had really high hopes of kicking the Monumental Half in its face.

I hashed and rehashed my weekly workouts leading up to the 11 mile to run to see where I went wrong, and the problem is obvious. I ran like a superstar on Saturday morning and knocked out 5 miles at exactly an 8:00 min/mile pace, my fastest 5 miles outdoors to date.

I wasn't supposed to do that.

My Saturday pace runs are supposed to be my marathon goal pace which is not even close to 8:00 min/mile. I ran WAY too fast and kept going because, "Hey! Look at me go!" And I'm almost 100% positive that that depleted all of my energy for my long run the following day. I felt zapped. Running was a chore. The same exact thing happened the weekend prior.

Now I'm wondering if it's too late to correct the problem and salvage what's left of my endurance for the half marathon. I have one more long distance run of 12 miles this weekend before I begin to taper and (finally) rest. I'm not even kidding, not even a little when I say that the training program I used this time around has been rough. I chose an intermediate training program from Hal Higdon and though the mileage does increase slightly from the beginner's program, the biggest difference is the amount of speed work involved. I've never trained for a half marathon that involved tempo runs and fartleks. I always ran a few times a week and then gradually increased the mileage on the weekends. This intermediate program is way more intensive and I hate to say it, but my body is tired. And then on top of all of that, I'm running some of my pace runs far faster than I need to.

Ugh, have I lost all of my readers by now? Sorry, I hate to vent so much, but this has really got me down and I'm doubting my abilities as a runner at the moment. Sure I can run faster than I could just a few months ago, but that means very little when I can't even make it through 11 miles without stopping.

I'm really hoping that cutting my miles and the intensity of my workouts this week will help me perform better on Sunday. But I'm already panicking at the thought that it might not. I've been in doubt before a half marathons before, but never this bad. My heart begins to race and I feel nervous just thinking about this weekend's 12 miles. Bouncing back after a bad run has never been one of my strong suits.

And I know I'm thinking about all of this way too hard. I thought I was being cool as a cucumber by not making a big deal about this upcoming half marathon. It's going to be my fifth half, I know the drill, and it's not the life or death situation I've made it out to be in the past. I'm in shape, I should be able to easily run 13.1 miles at any given time.

So why am I freaking out now?


  1. Ugh, same boat. I spent the rest of this weekend limping around after my 11-miler on Saturday. And I had to have my boyfriend drive and pick me up after my run because it was too painful to walk the remaining mile or so back home. I feel you girl!

  2. From an outsider's perspective, isn't it mostly true that athletes will hit temporary plateaus during training? Perhaps this is the case?
    You gals who run are an inspiration to people like me who would like to make even half the effort you do.
    And self-doubt is just a natural side effect of working towards personal goals. I'm sure you hear this a lot, but keep thinking positive no matter what. When it's time, you'll do great. All the hard work will pay off. :)


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