Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oklahoma Marathon Countdown- 4 days

Training alone (Arizona) vs. training with a group (Oklahoma). Here's the difference...

18 mile training run (Arizona)-
My first time running 18 miles-- I was nervous for this run all week long. The night before I went over and over everything I would need for the next morning, planned what I would eat beforehand, etc. That morning I woke up as excited as ever and drove out to my chosen running spot. Most of my long training runs for Arizona were around a small 5 mile loop-- which for this run I'd be doing about 3 1/2 times. No one knew I was out there. The first two loops were okay. Loop number three things started to get difficult and I started to get lonely. At one point all my muscles stiffened up, my feet became numb, and I actually started to wonder why I ever thought I'd be able to run a marathon-- clearly I wasn't going to survive this 18 mile run. The last 1/2 lap I was angry. I'm not even sure who I was angry at-- I think I was mostly frustrated and in pain-- and I felt like no one knew and no one cared. I finished the run with mixed emotions-- for one I had run further than ever before, but I was angry, tired, in a lot of pain, and doubting myself. I went home and for the rest of the week I mentally relived the pain and frustration-- every day fearing my 20 mile run two weeks later.

18 mile training run (Oklahoma)-
The week leading up to this run I was out for revenge-- to beat the miserable experience of this distance the first time. I posted messages to my pace group leaders and friends about my anxiety and got tons of support. James, who would end up leading my pace group for this run even sponsored Mile 18 of the marathon for Susan's Foundation-- which already got me off to a very positive start mentally. The entire week leading up to the run we sent each other messages back and forth sharing excitement and giving last minute pieces of advice. The morning of the run we met at the clubhouse early and all started off together. We laughed and joked for the first few miles as we warmed up. Then the difficulty started to set in and problems arose. Our anticipated water stop for the half way point was not where expected. James calls Vicki, another pace group leader on her cell phone (in the middle of her group run), basically just so we could have someone to comiserate with us. We laughed through the mishap and ended up begging for water at Burger King. Next water stop was missing too-- and we realized none of us had brought along emergency money. But we happened to pass another pace group leader who kindly gave us a loan and we make a running detour to a convenience store for Gatorade-- still laughing and joking. Mile 16-- we realize we managed to get off of our mapped out route and were 4 miles away from the clubhouse. Which means by the time we arrived back at the clubhouse our 18 mile run had turned into a 20 mile run-- and with the extra time it took us to find water we arrived back much later than anticipated. Given that we are the slowest full marathon pace group anyway, we're used to most of the other runners having cleared out of the clubhouse for the day before we got back.
So at last we get back to the clubhouse..... and were shocked to find 8 or 10 people, pace leaders and members of one of the half-marathon training groups, all waiting for us-- and walked in to a room full of clapping, cheering, hugs, pictures, and even some congratulatory chocolate donuts.
I will never, ever, ever forget that moment of getting back to the clubhouse after what could have been a miserable run-- and getting that type of a reception.

Moral of the story: Train with a group! If there isn't a big organized running or walking group in your area that meets your needs, start your own little group of just a few people. Having the support of pace group leaders, and other runners who all end up becoming some of your best friends is one of the most amazing things in the world!

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