When 18 miles matters more than 26
I woke up on Sunday morning with a daunting task ahead of me: an 18 mile run.
If I was training for a marathon like a normal person, it probably wouldn't be that big a deal. Butttttt like most things that seem to happen in my life, whenever I try to approach things "the right way," quite the opposite happens. Instead of training for the New York City marathon like a level-headed, sorta #namaste but also serious runner, I ran myself into an injury. Then I ran myself into five weeks of travel.
I haven't been in Brooklyn for more than a few days since August. The last long run I've done was over two months ago. I tried to run when I could throughout September— when I wasn't limping from nerve damage and tendonitis in Utah, and when I wasn't fighting the sunset and leopards (slight exaggeration) and lingering injury in Nepal.
Then I finally got home with a little less than four weeks to squeeze in some long runs, reevaulate my fitness, and re-center my spinning head. But I was blindsided by my relationship abruptly ending. You'd think running would 'help' the tremendous sadness that knocks your body out—but running was the last thing I wanted to do. Spending many hours watching nature documentaries and eating frosting seemed way more fun, so I did that instead..!
Worse than losing another week of mileage was the fact my body felt just felt really drained. Not too long ago, when traveling back to New York from Nepal, I forced myself to stay awake for 24+ hours before my flights so I could hopefully fall asleep on the 16 hour leg from Hong Kong to New York. During my layover, I deliriously walked around Hong Kong like a zombie, unimpressed by the crazy skyline, only wanting to buy all the Chinese medicinal salves and oils and curl back up at the airport gate. (Which I did.)
But then I didn't even really sleep on that 16 hour flight. Instead, I had three glasses of wine, watched Jurassic Park twice in a row, and had a panic attack while going through severe turbulence for 45 MINUTES (!) Then, I got in trouble for getting up while the seatbelt sign was on, but I was only searching for my parachute....
I returned home to a convenient jet-lagged routine of going to bed at 7pm and waking up promptly at 2am. I quickly unpacked only to repack - this time to go upstate and dance my butt off at my best friends wedding. Then relationship-intensity-sadness ensued. And then I ate allofthefrosting and ran noneofthemiles.
So yeah, I knew 18 miles would be ... interesting? I told myself if I got out of bed to start and finish the run, I would be "cleared" to run the marathon. Something cool to look forward to since everything else in my life kinda feels like a complete mess. Minus The Mets! #LGM!!!
On Sunday, NYC decided to be winter. I wore shorts and a t-shirt and the temperature never made it to 50 degrees. I think at one point it snowed? I ran the first seven miles along the westside highway and had refreshing gusts of wind slap my face. The weather only lowered morale and made me think the run wasn't going to go very far (puns!). The first two miles were hard. The first seven were hard. I shot over to Central Park and forgot about all the rolling hills. All of it was hard.
I know how to push my body, and I know when it no longer wants to be pushed. I've run a total of 18 miles in the past two months, and here I was trying to do it again, all in one go. #Intelligent
But I kept going ... because just like everything else in life, there really is no other choice. I took it one mile at a time, sometimes one stride at a time. I played Ke$ha a million times in a row. I thought about all the things I want from REI. I went from daydreaming about tacos to focusing on the nerve pain in my toes (heyo morton's neuroma) and the heavy movement of my hamstrings.
By 13 miles (~1:54) I was shot. This was so much harder than it should of been, than it had to be. That was what was most frustrating of all. But I tried to invert that anger into appreciation. My legs were still moving. It was uncomfortable as all hell, but I was still going. Something was on my side. And so I finished.
And that's why 18 miles matters more than 26. In my mind, finishing that run - for so many reasons - meant way more than any finisher's medal I'll (hopefully) get in a few weeks.
Now, November 1st will simply be the really long and cold and hopefully amazing victory lap : )