I have a lot of things to be proud of when it comes to running, but decided during my run today that finishing a marathon this year may not be one of them. According to my schedule, today was the start of a recovery week so my long run was only supposed to be six miles. Since I had missed my long run last weekend I decided I would do it this weekend. So I set out intending to run 12 miles, and was super excited to test out my new pink hydration pack.
I started my run with my usual five minute warm-up walk. Since I was naive and foolish I never really built up a base when it came to running. So all of my running (at least outside) has involved walking. My plan is never the same it just really depends on how I am feeling on a particular day. Sometimes I will run for 10 minutes and take a two to four minute walk break, and repeat. Sometimes I will run for five minutes and take a one to two minute walk break. I don’t think I could have run for 10 minutes to save my life today. I literally felt like I was hyperventilating for my entire run.
I think I have mentioned in a previous post that I have struggled with my breathing my entire life. This is just one of the reasons, in addition to being overweight, that I never really attempted to run before. Not only have I had chronic sinus infections my entire life, but I have had surgery twice for a deviated septum. The bright side of this is that I have done most of my breathing through my mouth which is what most runners seem to do, I think! Although it is not that hot today there is some slight humidity. The only thing I can think of is that the mix of my congestion and slight humidity was making it more difficult to breath. With that being said, this was my first run EVER without my headphones. So it is quite possible that I have always been struggling with my breathing (maybe not as much as today), but never really noticed because I had my music to distract me.
I have to say that running without headphones wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. However, I would still choose to run with my music. I realize a lot of experienced runners frown on headphones during a marathon, but if I am going to be at the back of the pack anyways what does it matter? I have to do what works for me and what is going to get me through 13.1 or 26.2 miles. I am really slow, so anyone running behind me is really, really slow!
Back to today’s run. Within the first mile I was pretty certain that I wouldn’t be running 12 miles. So my next goal was to make the original six miles that were scheduled for today. I never ran/jogged for more than five minutes at a time today. My run today was 5.76 miles and it took me one hour and 17 minutes. This equates to an average pace of 13:25 per mile. I told you I was slow! During this time I walked a total of 20 minutes, five of which were my warm-up. I think I started to cry about an hour into the run. I was frustrated, and I couldn’t figure out why it seemed to be so difficult to breath. Of course, I am thinking there is no way that I am going to make it 13.1 miles when I can barely make it six.
For whatever reason I have really been struggling these past two weeks. I thought after five months and logging 282.34 miles that things would start to seem easier, not harder. I have started to lose faith that running will ever be natural or effortless for me. I believe part of my problem goes back to the fact that I never built a base. I never started out making sure that I could run for an entire mile without stopping or walking, and then two miles and so on. I just went out and if the schedule said four miles, I did four miles even if I was walking. My friend Harvey gave me some great advice early on that I should have listened to. He told me to run for minutes not miles. It makes perfect sense now.
So when I finished my run today I cried some more. I felt like I had let myself down and was about to let many others down as well. I posted on Facebook that I was 95% sure that I wouldn’t be running the half-marathon I was signed up for on the 4th of July. I felt like a failure. I felt like a quitter. These feelings only made me cry more. Then my friend Chuck told me that it was only through reading about my struggles and determination that he started running, and is now registered for not only the half-marathon in July but the full marathon in October. He also told me that no matter what decision I ultimately made he would always be my biggest fan. Of course, I then started crying again. I realized that everything I have gone through in the last five months wasn’t for nothing. I had inspired at least one other person to get up, get moving, and live a healthier life. I had made a difference.
It was now time to tell my mom I wasn’t running. Every 4th of July she goes to her brothers cabin for the weekend, but had told him she wouldn’t be coming this year because I was running a marathon. I told her that she may as well go to the cabin because I was pretty sure I wasn’t running the marathon. She asked me why and I told her everything I have told you. She told me, “Jasmine, you had a bad day. You get up and start over tomorrow.” I told her I feel like I have had a lot of bad days in the last two weeks. She told me I needed to do the marathon. She said, “you get out there and do what you can, even if it means you have to walk.” She is right. Even if I have to walk the entire time, it is better than me quitting before I ever even tried. Even if i come in last, I will congratulate myself for beating the thousands of people who will still be in bed!
Since Mondays are rest days, Tuesday I am going back to square one. It will be the first day of the rest of my running life. I am going to be running as if I am brand new runner. I am going to take the time to build a solid base. My victories will no longer be measured in miles, but in the number of minutes I can run without walking. My future runs will be limited to 30 minutes until I can run the entire 30 minutes without walking. I am not going to quit because I would hate to find out later that all I needed was one last effort and I would have achieved my goal. No matter how down I am, I am always one run, chance encounter or circumstance away from a complete turnaround. I just have to keep moving forward, working hard, and remember the questions isn’t “How to do I compare to others?” but “How do I compare to my potential?”