Thursday, June 12, 2014

For Andrea and the Curreys!

Last Friday's run was mentally and physically a big one.

I've been struggling with my program due to the end of the school year, the trip back home, lowered motivation and fatigue.

The run before this didn't end well, but I was determined to make up for it. I had my eyes set on a 20-24 miler, the last really long run before the marathon. I had done an 18 and a 20 in Delhi, and my training program called for another 20 miler before the end. The problem though, was that it was scheduled for the weekend that we were traveling from India back home. I wanted to do it earlier in the week, but I just never got to it. I wanted to up it to 22, so I could have a new longest run and get a bit closer to the magic 26.2 mile mark.

As you can tell by the name of the run, I didn't get there. What happened?

1. Physical exertion set in.
2. Mental blocks took over.

Before I left for the run, it was already in my head. I was dreading the distance and whining about having to go. I appealed to my friends for a motivational donation. Andrea stepped up. It helped and I set out to run the Mesabi Trail near my house. The Mesabi Trail is a great bike trail that will eventually be a 132 mile paved bike trail running through most of northern Minnesota. My idea was to run the 11 mile stretch from Eveleth, through Gilbert, to Virginia and back. (By the way, this seems inconceivable after running in Delhi. A run that would take me through 3 towns? Crazy.)

The trail is great. It's extremely well-maintained and beautiful. For the first four miles, I didn't even see another soul. I ran through the mixed forest, admiring the trees, listening to the birds and meditating on the sounds of the hidden streams that outed their existence with their gurgles that proved they were there.
CC: By- Ken Ratcliff
At mile four, I entered the town of Gilbert. Gilbert will always live in my memory as the "Place Where I Bought my Record Player." Our record player is a big feature of Life at the Lake, so whenever I pass through Gilbert, I smile at the memory of bargaining the woman down to $20, then proceeding to spend more on a record cleaning kit and a needle.

From Gilbert, the trail turns west and passes through more forest. This is mining country and the deep lakes along the way are old open pit mines that have been filled with water. The route also passes through a rock cut from 1893, the original path being a rail line. It's very picturesque.

At this point, I was feeling good. My legs were heavy, but it wasn't unbearable and I didn't feel terrible.

Around mile 8, the route turns north and enters the city of Virginia. The City of the Virginia is the "Queen City" of  the Iron Range. It was once a bustling headquarters of iron ore mining operations. Mining by nature is boom and bust, so Virginia has had its ups and downs. The portion of the Mesabi Trail that goes through Virginia is great, with lots to see along the way. It was here that I started to feel a little worn out. There are real live actual hills on the trail, which is something that I'm not used to dealing with and they took a toll. The hills combined with sleep deprivation, poor hydration and a baditude, to be fair.

As soon as Ms. MapMyRun announced 11 miles, I turned around and headed back. I'm not a big fan of out-and-backs, so this may have been one of the fatal flaws of this run. Knowing that I had to turn around and backtrack really got in my head. At this point, I had been on the trail for over 1.5 hours. Knowing that I still had to do that much was tough on my already weak psyche.

My mind started wandering, making deals and building escape plans. It was tough. Approaching 13 miles, I knew that I could make it at least that far without stopping or resting. I've done three half marathons, so I made up my mind to go at least that far. From Mile 13 to mile 14 was an uphill gain of almost 200 feet. That's probably more than all of my Delhi gains put together. At mile 14 I took a walking break.

It was the beginning of the end.

Once the decision to quit has been made, it's very difficult to overcome.

The next four miles would see my average pace drop from 7:59 for the first five miles, to 8:41 for the next, 10:06 for miles 11-15 and finally 12:27 for the final 2.79 miles. My body and my mind had given up. As I quit, I looked at my phone and saw that the Curreys had donated too. Ugh.

I skipped the last four miles of the run, walked the rest of the way back to my car and headed home broken, nervous and weary of my decision I had undertaken to run a marathon. I felt like a let down to my donors and myself.

How to fix this? Luckily, I come from a school where the growth mindset is highly valued. I'm going to learn from this and make it better. I'm going to refuse to let it hinder me and I'm going to run that marathon. And it's going to be great. I'm going to meet my life goal of running a marathon. I can do this.

This run belongs to Andrea and the Curreys.

I'm dedicating runs to raise money for a campship in memory of our friend Ty Taylor at YMCA Camp Miller. Click here or here to donate. Please make sure you choose the Ty Taylor Campship option. And please let me know if you've made a donation so I can thank you!

Distance - 17.97 miles
Time - 2:49:21
Soundtrack - Phish, Plastilina Mosh, Primus, Public Enemy (I was in the P's of my music library)

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