My blisters are throbbing before I even put my shoes on my feet, probably because they’re in desperate need of being replaced. (The shoes, not the feet.) I know that around mile two my arches will begin to ache for this same reason. The last two days of running–the first consecutive runs in way too long–have left my muscles sore and stiff. But I strap on my spandex and set out on four miles anyway.
The short answer is I’m a fucking idiot.
The long answer is that I’m trying to train for the Saratoga half marathon in eight weeks.
The longer answer…
I absolutely wanted to run the Saratoga half again. It was a great experience last year, a well organized race and a fun one to run. Last year I was proud as shit just to finish, but this year I wanted to attempt to better my time. So I printed out Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 training program, counted backwards, and circled July 1st as the beginning of my training. I was going to kick this training program’s ass and make this race my bitch.
And then things fell apart.
Kyle and I spent the week of the 1st at his parents’ in St Louis, where it was a literal 105 degrees everyday. When I was saw the projected forecast I didn’t even bother to pack my running shit. Fuck that. I realize that by definition being a runner means I’m stupid but I’m not suicidal. No big, I’d get started when we got home.
Except that when we got home we immediately dove neck-deep into two weeks of an epic maintenance project at work. I thought I’d be able to run when I got home at 6:00, but as the magnitude of the project and our deadline loomed those cute little 9-5s suddenly began turning into 9-7s and 9-9s. The project was both physically and mentally (and a touch emotionally) exhausting, and when I got home I found myself struggling just to throw a dinner together so I could go to bed. Despite my best intentions, there was no way I was going to be able to run until that project was over.
But no big. Sure, I was now less than the 12 weeks needed for the training program away from the race, but this really isn’t as bad as it sounds. I had to start two weeks late last year due to a hip injury and I never suffered for it, so I’d just jump into week 3 and start kicking ass.
Except that when I counted backwards I was horrified to discover that I was not at week 3 at all. I was supposed to be starting week 5. Which, the long distance run for week 5? Is eight miles long. Let me repeat that: eight miles. When you’ve just had to take a month off of running and are starting from scratch, eight miles is a very, very long distance. As I stood next to my bed, staring at the piece of paper taped to my wall, I saw that race crumble away before my eyes.
Later that day, Kyle and I were walking through Home Depot, grabbing a few supplies for work. I told him about my time problem, and my worries that my body couldn’t handle the sudden crazy distance. “I don’t think I’ll be able to run the half this year,” I said sadly. “I think I’m going to have to let go of that one.”
“Nah, you’ll do it,” Kyle said, examining a package of zip ties before tossing them into our cart. “Oh, really?” I replied, eyebrow cocked, ready to hear what bs he had for me this time. “Yeah,” he said. “Think about it: at least half of the training you do for a marathon is training your brain to handle the pain and not be afraid of the distance. You’re already fucking crazy, so you’re already most of the way there.”
I stared at him, searching for the sarcasm that is the cornerstone of our relationship. “Look,” he said, grabbing multiple colors of e-tape, “I’ve never seen you not go through with something once you have your mind locked on it. You’re going to do exactly whatever you decide you can or cannot accomplish. It’s up to you, but I think you can do it.”
And that’s why I’m running this morning. Because my husband thinks I can do it.
Granted, he’s also the man who’s never been able to run a full mile without walking. The shit does he know about training for a fucking half marathon? I could easily declare him a fucking moron and write him off. Except that there is one area when he’s a damn expert, and that is me. And Kyle’s not the kind to blow smoke up someone’s ass, even mine. If he didn’t think I could do it, he would have just agreed with me and the conversation would have moved on. But he does think I can do it. He believes in me, and how can I argue with that kind of faith?
So I took another look at things. I went back to Higdon’s Novice 1 training program instead of Novice 2, which would jump me in on six miles. Still a stupid distance, but one I think I can muscle through without hurting myself. And if I take an easy pace and don’t worry about my overall time…
Maybe I can do this.
And so I run. Because Kyle thinks I can.