It’s funny that after almost five months of training, a 16-mile long run doesn’t seem that daunting. But the universe has a way of reminding me that nothing worth doing comes easily.
Saturday morning it came in the form of a lost inhaler. Not even 1/4 mile in, I felt my shoe kick something, and I turned around to see what it was. In the dark, it looked like a paper cup or some other trash, common at that spot. I kept going.
It was 47 degrees, right in the sweet spot that makes my lungs wheeze, especially at the beginning of a run. So about two miles in, I reached for my inhaler and found … nothing. And immediately I knew that it, in its ziploc bag with a tube of lip balm, was the thing I’d kicked earlier.
A little inventory told me the wheeze wasn’t too bad, and I knew the sun would be warming things up soon. So I decided to keep going. But after another mile, I had to admit I was struggling. When I stopped for water, I decided I couldn’t run 12 more miles breathing like this. The route was a bunch of loops for different distances, not an out-and-back, so I made a plan to go back and find my inhaler, then retrace some of my steps and jump back in somewhere further along the route–mileage would be close enough.
But it was almost a mile from the water stop to where I knew I’d dropped it, and during that time my stomach decided it didn’t want to cooperate any longer. And since Rogue was only around the corner, I ran back, traded out my light for a pair of gloves (my hands were stiff from the cold) and made a pit stop. Instead of trying to guesstimate where to rejoin the route after this five-mile sojourn, I just tossed my 16-mile map and picked up a 10-mile one, basically starting over.
I retraced many of my steps as I wound around the hilly neighborhood. It felt like it took forever while everyone else had long since finished. But I stuck it out for 10 miles and some change, ending up with just short of 16 miles.
My pace and my … challenges did not bring any mental comfort, knowing I have to do a lot better on race day to meet my goal. I kept reminding myself that the marathon course has quite a few downhill segments–according to the CIM Race Strategy talk we attended last night, practically the entire second half is a gentle downhill. The first half, not so much, but I’m trying to focus on the positive here. 😉
My heel isn’t happy, and it let me know pretty much all night as I stood in the stands watching Texas beat Iowa State. A moment during the 4th quarter offered a bit of inspiration though.