None of the day's run was particularly easy. While the first 8-10 miles felt good, I was sluggish. Since Garmin's battery was low, I have no idea of my actual pace, but I watched as Tiffany became smaller and smaller with distance. But still, I was running and surviving.
Toward the end of what I think was mile 10, I began fighting side stitches. Took deep breaths in attempt to ward them off. Was mostly successful. It never became continuous, but made an appearance a few more times.
Around that time, I began fighting with my mind. The typical last high-mileage week brain sabotage was kicking into high gear. "You'll never be able to do this. Remember how hard 18 miles was? You're obviously not in good enough shape. May as well quit now."
After admitting this to Tiffany, I was able to talk some sense into my own head. "You've done the training. You are strong. You WILL finish. Your body feels fine, so brain -- get over it!"
And it worked. I hit a second wind and was able to pick up the pace a bit, and felt -- surprisingly -- energized. I was able to keep pace pretty well until my fuel belt completely fell off. Hilarious moment. Would have been more hilarious for anyone watching. Girl running down road, belt with four water bottles suddenly hits ground. Shortly thereafter, I began feeling the mileage. Managed to keep running until a hill at the lake. Planned to start running after hitting flat ground. Didn't happen.
Met T again after circling the lake, ran with her back to Edgewood. Made it about half a mile before my feet just wouldn't let me run anymore. Sat down, took off my left shoe and sock -- two bloody toes with a wedge-shaped blister. I was done for. The next four miles were excruciating -- although perhaps more mentally/emotionally than physically. Yes, I was in pain and it really didn't allow me to run (I tried and nearly collapsed), but failure kept going through my head. I nearly broke down in tears -- hard, bitter tears -- several times during those long miles (as I was not moving quickly at ALL my this point). I learned that four miles is a LONG way to crawl, and an even longer time to beat yourself up emotionally. I admit I did a LOT of praying. And the last section did seem to pass much quicker than I anticipated -- there was a curve that never seemed to come... Right when I thought I should have about a mile left, I saw Schnucks, the half mile marker. And the moment I could see the parking lot was absolute magic. So while I accused God of leaving me, perhaps God was right there all the time, taking those painful steps along with me.
What does this mean for the marathon? I hope it merely means that tapering won't be as nice as I once hoped. My feet are demanding that I figure out something better in the next three weeks. I imagine I need custom orthodics, but know that isn't a possibility for race day... I'm not really sure what the next step is...
I am, of course, incredibly afraid. While I moved for 20 miles, I didn't run any of the last four. And while I was able to crawl four miles, the thought of crawling 10 is torturous. So my goal is to keep that from becoming an issue.
Step 1: heal feet
Step 2: hello running store
Step 3: trust the system
I have done the work. Didn't end as beautifully as I'd like, but it doesn't always -- and that can be okay. So I'll take my place in race day lineup with pride. I deserve to be there. And if I have an 8 hour finishing time after an agonizing journey, I'll wear that with honor. As my mom reminded me, completing the mileage is impressive no matter how you get there. Here's hoping I'll be on my own two feet!