Running Fiesta

Writing and running in Austin, TX.

Now Comes the Hard Part

There are 6 weekends left before the Düsseldorf Marathon, and we’re traveling or hosting visitors for 5 of them. As far as my social life goes, this is an exciting time. As far as marathon training goes, this is a real “Oh sh*t” moment.

I cannot tell a lie – my motivation has been flagging lately. With two 18 mile runs and a 20 under my belt, my legs are getting tired. Not only that, my eyes are getting tired. Because I am my own support crew, and therefore have to strategically stash water along my route, I have to engineer all my long runs to pass either work (a ways out of town down the same old road) or home (WAY too tempting a place to refill late in a long run). Sure I get hopelessly lost in North Aachen, but I can navigate the southern parts with my eyes closed.

I have thought about alternatives to being enslaved by my water bottle. More than once, Handsome J has offered to meet me somewhere with water, but there’s only so much you can ask of your significant other, and I already ask him to give up every single Saturday together so I can go pound the pavement.

I’ve also thought about running into a convenience store or gas station to simply buy a refill – I’ve even gotten as far stuffing some Euros in my jacket pocket – but something always stops me from going in. Okay, Garmin always stops me from going in.

I know the little traitor who abandoned me during the Chicago Marathon wouldn’t think twice about showing me a cheerful “Lost Satellite Reception” as I navigated the mineral water and “Muesli Pause”s. (That’s like a granola bar.) And as I learned in Chicago, there is absolutely no saving a run after that happens. I’ll be getting mile splits recorded in intervals of .64 kilometers for the rest of the day. And while I may never really be sure if Garmin’s data is accurate, I’m nevertheless completely addicted to it.

Sorry, getting back on track from the Garmin ranting…

I don’t think it’s just high mileage that’s getting me down. I think what it actually is, is poor planning. I simply didn’t think about the fact that, as we approach our final 3 months living abroad, I might want to do something else with my time. Like, say, knock back some Hefeweissens in the Biergartens of Munich without worrying about dragging myself out of bed for a run the next day. Or spend a day touring around Brussels drinking coffee and eating chocolates because, hey, when else in my life is Brussels ever going to be just an hour and a half away? Or maybe just sleep in on a Tuesday because I’ve been traveling and running all weekend, and one day off just isn’t quite enough to recover.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Poor Chris. It’s so hard for her to focus when she can be in Paris in 2.5 hours. Boo hoo.” And I don’t blame you for not feeling sorry for me. If I were reading this, I’d probably want to empty a GU packet into my running shoe, too. But this struggle has rocked my world just a little bit. For the last year, I’ve made running more or less the most important thing I do. I’ve scheduled my life around long runs, booked hotels based on their proximity to running trails, and even (mostly) kept up a blog about the whole thing. I’ve whined and cried about snow and cold and rain and hills, but I’ve kept going.

Only now I kind of sometimes want to stop.

I’m not sure what the root cause is. Partly it’s guilt over all the time I’ll not be spending with visitors because, “Don’t mind me, I just need to get a quick 22 in here.” Partly it’s fear that I either won’t make the time cutoff in Düsseldorf, or that I’ll make it but everyone will either be jeering me or have gone home.

(I told an English-speaking colleague at work that I was nervous about racing in Germany because I had this image in my head that people who sign up for races in Germany are über-serious and will judge me for being so slow. “Oh,” she said, “they will.”


Mostly though, I think this is a test. Part of me might want to throw in the towel on all this hard work and pretend I’m just a college kid on a European tour (minus the absinthe and “special” brownies), but the other part of me knows that the race is only 6 weeks away. And that these hills probably have me in the best shape of my life. And that, if I can just manage to cobble together something resembling my training schedule, I have a very real chance of setting a PR on a flat course in (I hope) ideal racing weather.

So, bring on the hills of Crete! Bring on the waterfront of Antwerp! Give me some more of the never-ending hills of Aachen! (If you can’t tell, I’m really trying to motivate myself here. PS – I’ll post pictures! 😉 )

After all, if I was really burnt out on running, I don’t think I would have gotten nearly so excited about that discount code for the San Antonio Marathon in November. Obviously it would crazy to do the full just a month after my rematch with Chicago (which I registered for the day it opened), but the half sounds totally doable…right?

Happy trails!

4 comments on “Now Comes the Hard Part

  1. Robin
    March 22, 2011

    Maybe this is a good thing–with so many distractions to take your mind off the nervousness of a Marathon Event, you might end up surprising yourself! Alternatively, I hear that feta cheese is very good for running faster…just ask that dude who did the first ever marathon. Oh wait, he died after he finished. Um…

  2. Emily
    March 22, 2011

    Remind yourself we all went through this before our last races and then we had each other to lean on and bitch to while running together. I'm so proud you're sticking with it on your own- I know you'll make it through this last stretch and kick that race's a$$!! Just take it one run at a time. Miss you over here and can't wait till we are obsessing over mimosas post run, sweat, and tears 🙂 ps- you missed my tears after my miserable 2 mile time trial- yes, I actually cried. I must get over myself.

  3. Chris
    March 25, 2011

    Aww, thanks guys! I'm definitely psyched about the feta, even if it's not a frequent feature in RWs "Eat to Get Faster" articles.And Emily – I've decided the time trial was designed purely to make us feel like crap. Although I totally get how you could end up crying after it, just remember – no one's ever going to ask you to run around a track 8 times in the middle of a marathon =)

  4. Jeanine
    March 28, 2011

    I love it Chris. I am behind on my reading, obviously. Keep going…sometimes when you fall out of love with something (or just simply get tired of it), you have to pretend you love it and act the part. Eventually, you'll believe your own deception and fall back in love with that certain thing, in this case, running. Head over heels….step by step.Plus when you get back, it'll be nice to be on the baby hills of Austin after dealing with your Germany hills.Bagel runs are you in your future….yes ma'am! I'll wave to you as you lap me. :PBTW, methinks you should schedule your own pub run up there. Recovery Sunday should look like this: Run 1/2 mile, drink a beer. Run 1/2 mile, drink another beer. Run 1/2 mile, drink a beer. Run 1/2 a mile, get handsome J to carry your ass home.

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This entry was posted on March 21, 2011 by in motivation, travel.
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