Aug 20

Richmond: Week 8, Welcome (back) to Swelterville

eight ball in foreground, cue ball behind with cue lining up on left

Week 8 required more flexibility with my training schedule. I flew back from Amsterdam on Tuesday, and the trip took 20+ hours from the time that I left my hotel room at the Amsterdam Renaissance until I unlocked my front door. Most of that time was spent sitting or waiting, or sitting and waiting. But the crucial detail is that it did NOT involve sleeping.

And then I was back into the soup that is South Carolina August heat and humidity. I hadn’t missed it. But all things considered, it wasn’t TOO terrible. Thursday was tough, but it was going to be tough where ever I did that workout. Jet lag did me no favors, but generally when it hit, it hit later in the day.

The break down:

M: 5x 1000m

T: OFF

W: 10 (2 wu & cd + 6 at MP)

R: Easy 6

F: easy 5

S: 15*

S: “easy” 6

My long run this week wasn’t terrible. It was hot, but I got out the door early enough that it didn’t completely kick my ass. For this I am grateful. The previous two 15 milers were each a struggle, especially the one that I ran in Spartanburg 2 weeks ago. This one wasn’t easy, but I didn’t enter into that last mile thinking “there is no way that I can run 11 more miles in a couple of months.” It would have been really difficult to run 11 more miles on Saturday, but it didn’t seem like the mountain of impossibility that it did a couple of weeks earlier. I’ve still got 11 weeks to go, and things are going to get harder before they get easier. But I feel more confident today, and I know that the challenges ahead are at least as much mental and psychological as they are physical.

Earlier this afternoon, I read a blog post by Lauren Fleshman, one of the runners whom I admire most. There, she writes: “To pursue your individual potential as an athlete requires a willingness to face your shadow, to see things in yourself that are ugly or “other” before you are ready to, and respect them.” The specter of failure is one that lingers in the periphery of my vision when it comes to the marathon. Earlier this year, in Phoenix, in Columbia, and in Asheville, I did my best to dig deep and get ugly, to embrace the suck and not give in to the voice that says, “You can’t. This hurts. You should just stop.” And I surprised myself with my tenacity and my ability to endure discomfort.

Lauren Fleshman asked, “Are you afraid of the dark?” And if I’m honest, my answer is “Sometimes.” But what I’m learning this summer is that the darkness is itself neither dangerous nor unsafe. It is something to respect, something to explore, but there is a power in darkness that is valuable and important. When I ran Tread Nightly in week 4, the darkness was unnerving at first, but once I got used to it, adjusted to the different perspective provided by a headlamp and a flashlight, it was really interesting. I could really zero in on my breathing and the feeling of my feet on the trails. The sounds of the cicada and the rustle of leaves and trees were a welcome change from the usual soundtrack of traffic that usually accompanies me.

All of this to say that I’m trying to think of those experiences and the struggles ahead as deposits into the Ugly Account, reserves that I can draw upon in November when the specter moves from the periphery on to center stage. Because it will move to center stage. That’s not a question. The question is whether or not I will be ready for it. I hope that I will.

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user SmSm]

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