So 15 miles went by me and 16 did also. I kept running like Forrest and I was enjoying every minute. And while I pounded onto mile 17, my mind wandered to the memory of training…of running 16 miles the day after Thanksgiving. It started like this.
It was the most ill prepared training run that I did. I had had too much food and drink the night before, but I was sticking to my training plan no matter what. I didn’t have enough KT tape to tape my feet and my good socks were dirty. I set out that morning ready for a long haul, and 6 miles in found myself in a common situation for runners. I had to go. And I was in the middle of nowhere. On a highway. All I can say is that I’m thankful to the rancher whose pasture I borrowed in a little grove of trees. I felt like a fugitive; it was an emergency.
I ran and ran on that training run until I could feel the blister forming on the bottom of my foot. It was the longest I had ever run, and I struggled hard from mile 14 on. I remembered the very moment my watch said 16 miles, I slowed to a walk. My muscles had tightened and I bent over to stretch…then I saw that tears were coming out of my eyeballs. Then I noticed that I was sobbing actually and I couldn’t pull myself together. My husband had come to pick me up in his truck at that point, and with a look of concern asked why I was crying and what was wrong. I shook my head. I didn’t know. My feet had hurt like hell at that point, but not enough to cry. I cried for awhile and then I stopped and I was okay. I just needed ice for my feet. I felt so released.
Jolting myself back to the present, I saw that 17 mile marker flow passed my line of vision. I grinned….I had gained some grit along the way in all that training. I looked around me again, and the same folks I had seen before were in front and behind me. I also saw a member of the sideline crowd with a sign that said, “Run fast, in two weeks, Trump will have nukes!” I laughed loudly, and I exhaled long, satisfied with my pace and feeling connected to people. I made a quick pit stop…as quick as I could realizing how tight my muscles were getting. It was hard to get going again, but eventually I found my rhythm. I don’t remember much about mile 19, but passing 20 was triumphant. I had heard all these stories about how people break down at 20 and start crying and walking. I was feeling alright, and I was beginning to get excited about how this race was going to end for me.
Then I passed mile 21, and my legs began to ache. My feet were starting to cry out, and I thought about how far away mile 22 was. So. very far. All my bravado at 20 was gone, and then I saw the beer stand. Just what the doctor ordered right? The smiling man shoved the beer cup in my hand as I kept running, and I drank it fast, sloshing most of it out. It did help some, but I kept thinking how long the park in Houston must be for it to go on and on and on. I knew that the city had to be coming up at some point, right?
I felt around in my runners pouch and my fingers wrapped around an energy chew. I’m mostly an energy gel person, but I had brought one chew to mix it up. I popped that chew in my mouth, and started chewing. It was tough to get it down, but it helped me increase my speed to get to mile 23. I heaved a sigh of relief seeing that dumb 23 but then my tired old brain freaked me out with the thought of 3 more miles! 30 more minutes of running! Good God! I had to make it. I couldn’t tank in the end. I was out of nutrition. I was out of motivation. I was out of grit.
And so…I turned to the playlist…
To be continued…