Sunday, April 13, 2014

20 Miles of Mistakes

It was the last one.

The final push.

The biggest training run to date...20 miles.

And in a nutshell, it was b.r.u.t.a.l.

To the credit of the run itself, I did sort of set myself up for a rough go.  The night before, I got a 90-minute deep tissue massage.  You know the one I'm talking about....where the therapist asks you if she's applying enough pressure right at the moment that you're certain she's broken your back and you meekly say, "Ya...I'm good," while you wince and try to focus on your breathing and stay calm.

And then, because she's dispelled the mother lode of toxins into your system, you're supposed to drink a trough of water and pee your brains out.  Instead, I went to book club and drank vodka, took some ibuprofen and went to bed.

I woke up at 6am with the intent of getting out the door early.  I was expecting the run to take me close to four hours and the temperature was already 60 degrees at 7am.  So, after applying a shit ton of sunscreen and body glide, I said a prayer and left.

Almost immediately, it didn't feel right.  I was hot, like sticky, can't get my breathing under control, nasty humid hot.  And then, to literally add fuel to the fire, I decided to try a different brand of nutrition, hell bent to find some gu that I could digest. And my stomach was in knots.

The first 13 miles were more than doable, but by the time I got to mile 15, I was beyond sluggish.  I play this game with myself where I refuse to walk unless I'm forced by another pedestrian, a cross walk, etc...but yesterday, I found myself defaulting to a walk and I knew I was in for it.

By mile 18, I ran out of water.  I carry my agua on my back in a 70 ounce Camelbak.  And well, given that it was sunny and 80 degrees at that point, I was fucked.

I barely eeked out the final two miles, when literally two blocks from my house, my knees buckled and my ass hit the trail and I called my husband to come and get me.  I was furious.  I came home and puked and cried.

I had done the mileage, but it was the most miserable run to date and it was the last one before the race.  Not a good way to go out.

Feeling like a failure, I got dressed up and headed to a friends' surprise birthday party and chatted with one of my besties.  It was in that dialogue that it all came together...

"I feel like a fucking loser." (me)

"Naw...what did you learn?"

"Good God, what did I not learn.  No massage the night before.  I need to start hydrating in mass quantities days before the race.  I must take advantage of every aid station along the way.  I need to pace myself stronger on the first half of the mileage, so that as the heat kicks up, I can still maintain  the back half.  I've got to have a mantra and fall back on it over and over again when I find myself in the dark places." (me)

"Well then, thank God you had this piece of shit run.  You were meant to.  It served it's purpose.  You're working these kinks out now, instead of on the day of.  And, you survived.  Which means you can do it."

As hell bent as I am in my life to thrive and to accomplish, it was in that moment that I recognized that failure has more often served me than success.  The lessons I've learned when I'm on the ground writhing in pain, humiliated, fearful, regretful, angry and frustrated have always stuck with me.  And the greatest lesson has always been to get back up again.

Three weeks from today is race day.

The physical taper has begun, but I'm using these 21 days to get strong mentally and to let the lessons sink in...because as my friend taught me, it's never too late to capitalize on that which you thought was a huge failure.


  1. Kelly, it's been 2 years now since my last marathon and it seems like yesterday that I was in your spot. You had me at massage! Good luck. Will look for you in Lincoln!

  2. Jim! Thanks so much for the encouraging words. I'm tentatively excited and continue to wonder why I had this dream on my bucket list...praying that it all works out. See you soon!

  3. Kelly,
    I can relate to what Jim said and vividly remember sitting on a curb about 2 miles from our home calling my husband crying because I was screwed. But your bestie was right-learning the lessons now is better than on race day. Some of the best advice I was ever given as right before the race gun went off at my first marathon. The announcer said, "if you believe you can finish the race today you will." Regardless of if you have to walk the last few miles, you WILL finish the race due to your commitment and desire to cross it off your Bucket List. Cheering you on my friend!


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