Two months from today I will run my 21st marathon. That’s the plan. It’s what I’ve been working for all summer, kind of all year, from a running perspective.
Things are different this fall. I have a high schooler, for one. She wakes up at 5:15 and we are walking to the bus stop together by 6. I decided to trade in the pre-dawn running routine I’ve been at for the last several years so I can instead be home for her. She doesn’t really want to talk much that early in the morning, but says it’s nice to have my company. I enjoy it too. I get home from the bus stop at about 6:20 to a quiet house. My middle schooler will be up soon, so this quiet time in the kitchen alone is here just for me to fill however feels right. So … I thought … maybe I should try writing now?
When I went to Bird Camp a few weeks ago, Lauren Fleshman mentioned something about what she calls “wild writing” – I think the idea is we write uncensored for a set aside period of time and don’t criticize it or try to polish it or make it “just so” … and then maybe something will come of it that will feel right and help us process or get more clear. Honestly I think part of what holds me back from practicing writing is feeling like I am not good at it and nobody will want to read it, and also not having the time to do it. Once Will is up and down here and needs me, Gus is up shortly after that and then the day gets busy. So maybe this early morning time is the best option for me. It’s quiet. I’m alone. So anyway here I am.
So two months from today I will run my next marathon. Training has been going well. I am feeling strong, feeling capable. The last few weeks my mileage has been around the 60 mile/week range and my long run has been 16-17ish miles long. I am getting into the gritty endurance building work. It’s hard, and satisfying. I know I am lucky to be able to work like this, and to feel progress especially considering the road I have taken to get here. About 8 years ago, I started really seeing progress with my running. Those were weird and exciting days but also dangerous – every race was a new PR and I was losing minutes as well as inches and pounds at a pretty astonishing rate. It was reckless, and ultimately resulted in me fraying at the seams, my body waving a white flag. Thankfully I woke up to my destructive behavior before things got too bad – I worked with both a nutritionist and a therapist to repair my body and heal thinking and behavior patterns/habits that hurt me and the people who loved me.
Now I am running strong again, and making very different choices around my running and my life. I don’t know if I will ever run as fast as I did when I was unhealthy. I used to think that was the goal, that if I could do that I would be able to prove to myself and anyone else who can relate or who is stuck thinking they need to be extreme to succeed in this sport, that it’s possible to come back from overtraining and under eating and run your fastest – even in your 40s – without returning to such extremes. I still want to strive for that if I am being honest, but the numbers aren’t necessarily going to tell the whole story and I know that. I think this training cycle is showing me it is possible for the numbers to reflect it though, eventually – I am running strong and not having any GI issues while running, which is H U G E L Y different from my running during those years when I was 25 pounds lighter than I am now! My marathon pace right now is somewhere around 7:45ish, even in the heat I am capable of that right now so with ~7ish weeks more of hard training to go (taking 2 for taper, I am guessing?) plus the weather cooling I think that’s realistic and perhaps conservative for an ideal day. I think my pace for my PR marathon was something like 7:20…so surely I have more work to do to change the numbers, if that were the goal, but I believe if I can stay healthy, do the work and be patient … IT IS POSSIBLE. No matter what though, I am enjoying the heck out of the journey even with the road bumps. I feel present and happy and healthy for it and that is not something I could say with honesty several years ago. And THAT is the stuff that REALLY matters. The biggest point to make with this, for myself and anyone else, is that we can return to running well and doing hard honest training without being reckless or harming our bodies or mental health!
Alrighty, time’s up. I feel like I ripped off the writing band aid. Will try again tomorrow.