Saturday, December 20, 2008

margarita madness

I missed a run today and I feel guilty.

The funniest thing was that I was actually looking forward to running this morning. I was going to try to out-do my personal best today, and was genuinely excited to see how it would feel to be running on a freshly snow-covered terrain.

I had run indoors (4 miles) on Thursday at the office gym, and it just wasn't the same. I thought watching Rachel Ray cook stuffed peppers would make the time fly by faster than seeing the same naked branches I've gotten so used to outside in Central Park, but it was just the opposite. Running on the treadmill, seeing each mile broken down into mini digital increments, being able to control the speed and incline by decimals, having the option to change the channel mid-mile to avoid commercials, it was like eating a dessert made with saccharine--it tastes too sweet in some artificial way.

I found myself wishing for the chill in the air to evaporate my sweat, and that smug feeling of, "yeah, I'm just crazy/strong/brave/hard-core enough to be out running when the rest of the world is cozying up on the couch watching Grey's Anatomy."

So on Thursday I told myself, just wait until Saturday--you'll feel so good running with your teammates, chatting away the early miles, silently commiserating on the later ones.

But then I went out with my coworkers for an office happy hour last night. I told myself one margarita would be fine. And as ashamed as I am to admit this, I need to get it out there: A few margaritas in we ended up at my coworker's holiday party, and then somehow I lost my bag, my keys, my phone and anything else that would allow me to get into my apartment, sleep and get up at 6:30AM for the run.

After a way-too-nice neighbor generously fronted the cash for a hotel room, I drifted off, and I swear, the last thoughts in my head were about the morning's run I'd be missing. Though avoiding the seven miles was a relief, for the most part I just felt regret.

This morning, I made it back into my apartment (the missing bag turned up, thank goodness), and like a mac truck slamming into a highway median strip, a wave of self-doubt struck me stronger than I'd ever felt. Why had I signed up for this thing? Who did I think I was fooling? I have just three months to go and I've still never run more than six miles, and even that, only twice so far. Was this just going to be another thing I'd have to give up on? A dream just too big or hard to accomplish? Would I keep going, but keep taking the easy way out on the runs meant to push me and get me to my goal? And worst of all, was I subconsciously sabotaging my success, because deep down, I didn't really believe I could do it.

I am embarrassed to admit it, but even after I got back at noon, I couldn't go out to run today at all. I just didn't have it in me. It's amazing how the one muscle in your body that seems to resist training the hardest is your brain.

In hopes of finding any inspiration to keep me going, I read back issues of Runner's World my next-door neighbor lent me. In it, there was one story that had personal meaning.

It was about a guy running his first marathon ever, the NYC marathon, with his father who'd run more than 30. Throughout the summer he trained, but not enough, logging in 3 miles when he should have been doing four, skipping cross-training for happy hours, and quitting at six miles during the long runs. With two months to go, he got an email from his father. How was the training going? He should have clocked in a few 13-milers by now. He was in serious jeopardy of having to walk on the run, and while that's fine, it's not what his father really wanted for the duo's first run together--he didn't want to be in the 6-hour group struggling to cross the finish line.

The email was a serious wakeup call for the guy, who started to take training more seriously in the final two months, getting in long runs despite his hatred of them and the pain he had to endure. Finally, in four and a half hours, he was able to cross the finish line with his dad, the runner's high kicking in for the last two miles, finishing stronger than even he thought he would.

I guess just like the six-mile loop in the park, training for a marathon is not one steady, slow incline. There are uphills and downhills, curves and straight lines, and sometimes, even the best-intentioned runners have babystrollers crossing their paths, making them stop for a second (or more to the point), they let the babystrollers get in their way sometimes.

I'm going to get out there tomorrow morning and try to run seven miles, the farthest I've ever run. Even if I have to slow down or walk a few yards throughout the course, I'm going to keep going.

No comments:

Post a Comment