“You know a dream is like a river, Ever changin’ as it flows, And a dreamer’s just a vessel That must follow where it goes, Trying to learn from what’s behind you, And never knowing what’s in store Makes each day a constant battle Just to stay between the shores I’ll never reach my destination If I never try So I will sail my vessel ‘Til the river runs dry” – The River, Garth Brooks
So, yesterday was rough. I set out with one of my favorite running partners, Laurie, to attempt 20 miles. It was just the two of us left from our marathon training group to tackle this milestone on the American Tobacco Trail. Lena and Sara are too injured to continue. I made it 19.3. Laurie made it 22.5 because she is total badass. I was looking forward to this run all week. I really felt like I could do this after 17 successful miles last week. What a difference a week makes.
I wondered if I would be in trouble on Saturday when I struggled during Thursday morning’s 6 mile hill run with my regular crew. Kelly and Nancy pulled way ahead of me. Sissy, being the wonderful friend that she is, waited for me at the top of each hill but I was gasping for breath. I don’t know what the problem was but I just was not feeling it. I went to bed early on Friday night but did not eat much. I just was not hungry. I woke up on Saturday morning not feeling fabulous. I went out to get in my car at 6:45 and it was already 78 degrees with humidity in the low 80s. Ugh.
Laurie and I headed out with the half marathon training group for the first 11 miles and I knew I was just not feeling it. At mile 12, my asthma acted up and I did not have my inhaler because I never have trouble on the run. By mile 14.5, I was worried I might see my Uncrustables and Sharkies, again. My intervals were more like 2/2 and less like 6/1 when the nausea set in. I told Laurie to run ahead and she knew I meant every word of it so she did.
Somewhere along the side of the ATT at mile 15ish of my run when it was a sticky 82 degrees, I saw every thing I had eaten on the run come back up, again. Some nice older man walking his dog asked me if I was OK. I considered calling Sissy, who I knew was done with her half training run and was waiting at Starbucks, to come pick me up in her car at the nearest cross street. If I had known what that cross street was, I am pretty sure I would have finished my day in the front seat of her car!
“Just put one foot in front of the other and get back to Fleet Feet” I told myself. So, I walked the last 4.5 miles. I walked it as fast as I could. I averaged 14 minute miles for the last 4.5 miles. I had an internal argument with myself about whether or not I could really stay on my feet for 26.2 miles. I made it back to the store (I actually ran the last .25 miles hoping to end my misery a little faster) and Nora, our training program director, was so kind. She brought me water and tired to make me eat. So, what went wrong? I don’t really know. I think it was the heat. I think it was the humidity. I don’t think I ate enough on Friday. I think it was those damn sport chews that my system absolutely hates, no matter what brand.
What I do know is that I did not quit and I kept moving forward for 19.3 miles. I did not cry (remember, there is no crying in running). Dimity was so kind when I texted her that it was ugly. She said my 13:04 per mile average pace was at the top range of my long run pace (I’ve been averaging much faster than that). She said I developed mental toughness for Philly. She said she was proud of me. We’ll re-group and I will attempt 20 miles, again. You really never know what is in store. I can learn from this run which is, thankfully, behind me. I’ll keep trying to stay between the shores and I’ll keep sailing this vessel. I knew this was going to be hard.