If I put off this post for too long, I’ll move on and won’t write about it.
Marine Corps Marathon created a 50K a couple of years ago. I wasn’t interested in running it because I had planned to run the marathon, and in a real-life event, you can’t run both on the same day, so I chose the marathon. I had run 15 consecutive marathons, so I was just sticking to my Marine Corps Marathon streak.
Then coronavirus changed the entire event space. I think about all of the people who work in the events industry, and I am saddened for them. There is something very special about events, and there is a tremendous amount of work that goes into preparing for an event. Virtual events are not the same; they just aren’t. However, I signed up for a few virtual events over the past couple of years so that I could 1) keep my marathon streak alive, and 2) because events keep me honest with myself…even the virtual events.
Let’s get into the virtual event that I just completed, which unfortunately, will include a lot of complaining. I try to be positive, but I can’t lie. This was tough.
Training started in the early summer months out here on Okinawa, and I never got a reprieve from the heat and humidity. I would wake up at 3:30am for long runs, and I would be suffocated by the dense air in the night. The sun would rise, and the sun would help clear out some of the humidity. Then, I would be essentially running in a sauna. Saunas are bearable if you are running for 30 – 40 minutes. Saunas are hell if you are running for 2-3 hours.
My run coach shifted my training from miles to hours-on-the-feet because I got slower and slower as we went into the months of summer. My attitude deteriorated and continued to get worse. I complained. I chafed in places that I didn’t know could chafe. I was drained, but I kept getting out there. I tried to remain positive, but you could tell by my training recaps that there was very little positivity within me.
We finally entered into October, and I expected the heat to go away. It did not, and my last long training run was a bust. Yep, it was another disappointment, and because it was so bad, I had to readjust my goal. For someone who is driven by goals, this was a tough pill to swallow. Was I adjusting the goal because I was afraid, or was I adjusting the goal because I was smart? Looking back, I think it was a little bit of both. I was afraid that my body could not take 3 days of back-to-back running. I was afraid that I would have 3 days of misery. I was afraid that I may not be able to finish a 50k the day after I had run a marathon. I was also fairly smart. I would keep my body from completely falling apart. I would have 3 positive events instead of 1 weekend of misery. I would take care of my body after each event so that I had fresh legs for the next one, and over the course of a month, I finished all 3 events.
On Friday, October 15th, I ran my 10k, and it was good. It was faster than I have run in months. It was less than an hour. It was a positive experience. I would get a week off, and then I would run the marathon.
I ran the Virtual Marine Corps Marathon, which was event 2 of 3 for the Trifecta on October 22nd. Now, the marathon was a completely different experience. At the last minute, I had to adjust where I was running to accommodate what my family needed. I ran a course that I have run before, and I hate it every time. I ate too many crackers the day before, slept poorly, and woke up dehydrated. I never could get things right, and my body hit the wall earlier into my event than I had wanted. It was another long, disappointing run. It felt like a miserable training run. It did not feel like an event in any way. I had 2 weeks to lick my wounds and get my mind right because I still had to do the 50k.
I spent the 2 weeks journaling. I walked my dog. I did some yoga. I went on a couple of short runs. My legs felt heavy, and I wasn’t sure if I could get out there and run 50k all alone…again. I embrace the loneliness of running. I actually like it and need it. However, under normal circumstances, you train alone. Then you meet up with other runners at a race to compete against yourself, and you get the positive energy of others who are out there doing the same thing. In virtual runs, you may be lucky enough to run with friends; yet, I have not done a good job of fostering runner friendships lately. I would be all alone again…
Friday, November 5th, at 3:00pm, I would begin the 50k, which is the 3rd and final event of the Trifecta. My 50k was 10 loops around the base where my husband works. From the word go, I would speed walk up the hills, and run the rest. I would stop at the end of every loop, grab a snack, and change my audio. Friends showed up, so I got to chat with them for a few minutes, which was so very nice!!! I looked forward to seeing their faces at the end of every loop.
My pace remained the same. A few friends showed up to cheer me on. My guy and my dog were happy. The weather was perfection. I never sped up. I never slowed down. I just did what I was supposed to do: put one foot in front of the other for a very long time, and I finally had a good run experience! I had suffered for months for this evening. I did the mental work. I did the physical work. I did the prep. I listened to my coach, and just like that, all the work paid off.