DAY | PLAN | ACTUAL
MON | REST | REST
TUE | 4M/STRENGTH | 4.2M (9:10/MI)/STRENGTH
WED | 8M | 8M (10:11/MI)
THU | 4M/STRENGTH | 4.1M HILL INT (9:40/MI)/STRENGTH
FRI | REST | REST
SAT | YOGA | BIKRAM90
SUN | 16M | 16.2M (10:41/MI)
TOTAL |32 MILES | 32.5 MILES
What a week! That’s 16.2 miles that’s got me looking all happy and admittedly a little crazy with my friend Summers in the photo above. We snapped it after completing our run together in Central Park alongside hundreds of other runners participating in the NYRR 18 mile marathon training tune-up. Remembering the scheduled tune-up and realizing the park would be packed, Summers shot me an email a couple days before to ask if I still wanted to run there. We both agreed that the other runners would serve as motivation and kept our plans. Motivation they were, but they were also this unbelievable boost that not only impacted our run, but my outlook on this whole endeavor to finish my first 26.2.
If anyone has run NYRR races you know they do it right–they are super organized and pro all the way. Still, I had no idea their “tune-up” run would be just as put together–everyone had bibs on, there were mile markers all over the park, and tons of water stations and volunteers. It was just like a real race, the energy was exploding out of that park. While we didn’t have bibs, we were both wearing old race shirts and following the same loop as all the other runners so we fit right in. There were amazing friends and family members who came to support their loved ones in the run and were handing out high-fives on the side which I happily took. I’m not gonna lie, I even teared up a tiny bit when I saw a cute little 8 year old blonde girl holding a sign that said, “48 more days till the marathon!” Right beside her, her older sister held one that read, “You can do it!!”
The run flew by. We flew. Last week running by myself I ran 15 miles at a 10:45 pace. This week with Summers, I ran 16.2 miles at a 10:41 pace, and that’s with the few minutes of walking we did while she squeezed a gel down the gullet and washed it down with some water. Summers didn’t really want to talk during the run which made me hesitant at first. I thought it might be weird to be running alongside each other in silence. But it wasn’t. We both brought our headphones. I listened to my podcasts like usual. Since I had my watch, we had a little system where I’d put my finger up each time another mile ticked by so we both knew to drink and/or fuel. We’d giggle at each other at times when a runner would go by with an especially soaked butt. And give each other a silent hurrah when we’d finally reach the top of a huge hill.
Speaking of hills–Summers was a BEAST on those bad boys! Through our email exchanges before she had mentioned that she likes to think of herself as a choo-choo train heading up the hills–she just keeps chuggin’ along. If you’ve run Central Park before you know they’ve got some serious sustained inclines in there. We both ran to the park from our houses so when we approached the first of these inclines I had probably ran 7 or 8 miles. Immediately I slowed my pace and went into what I would call survival mode. But not Summers, as soon as we started going up, I felt her push harder. I could feel her strength, her energy was relentless. Immediately something clicked in me–I wasn’t going to slog it up this hill–I would push myself and glide right along with her. It was really incredible–she took my love for hills to a whole different level. Like I said, I’ve been in survival mode every time I take on big inclines. There is no doubt that I have improved on the hills, but my attitude towards them has been one that says “ok, I’ve got to conquer you.” Summers had a completely different take–it was as if the hills were her boosters–each climb pushed more energy back into her legs and propelled her upward. The hills weren’t zapping her energy, they were adding to it.
Armed with a new outlook, a friend by my side, and hundreds of other runners all around me, our last few miles had me thinking there was nothing in the world that I couldn’t do. For almost 3 months I’ve taken every one of my training miles solo. While I’ve loved every one of them, I had completely forgotten how enormous the impact of other people can be. When I run alone, I’m pretty aware of each mile. With Summers and the rest of my marathon trainees, I was so engaged in the experience that the markers snuck up on me. As I ran I remembered something that as an introvert, I have to remind myself of often:
There wouldn’t be so many damn people on this earth if we were supposed to spend our lives alone.
This run could not have made me any more excited for race day. I can’t believe I get to run in one of the biggest marathons in the world. All the runners, the supporters, my family, my friends. Up until this point, I think I’ve underestimated the impact they are all going to have. Approaching the next 7 weeks of training with the understanding that I don’t have to do this alone is liberating, uplifting, and just really fucking awesome.
Last little thought…when I finished the 16.2, it didn’t seem so crazy to think that I would have to run 10 more miles after that. Does that mean I’m actually going to do this thing?!
Alright, let me hear it you guys–how’s it going out there? Anyone feeling especially empowered by the support of the people around them–in training or in another part of life? Anyone feeling like they are going it alone? I want to hear what you’re going through–trust me, you don’t have to do this solo…