There's not easy way to say this, so I'm just gonna say it. I'm 99% sure I am not going to run the marathon in 2 weeks.
The strange thing? I say this with 99% confidence and assurance.
This is my third cycle of marathon training. The first cycle was difficult but manageable. The weather at the actual race was frighteningly hot so the race wasn't what I expected. But I walked away from that race as a marathoner. And that can't be taken away from my.
My second cycle of marathon training was a mix of amazing and discouraging. I hate to say this, but I almost cruised through 75% of the training cycle. I was running up to 10 mile mid-week runs. I was consistently surprised by my pace. The only walk breaks I took on the 20-miler was to fuel. I felt incredible. Solid. Strong. Capable. But then tendonitis came along and I was sidelined. I had trained so hard, felt so strong, but knew that it was best for my body to sit that one out.
As soon as my foot was completely back to normal (about 3 weeks), I eased back into marathon training. Looking back, I still feel great about it. I was smart about my build. I feel like I did everything right.
I haven't missed a long run. I've missed very few runs period. I've been eating okay. I've been sleeping well. This has been my most consistent training cycle so far. My mid-week runs are solid. I'm loving pushing my pace. I'm loving running with my friends.
But my long runs have been terrible. I fall apart at 15 miles in. My 16, 18, 20, and 18 (supposed to be 22) mile runs have left me feeling broken and discouraged. They have made me wonder why I run and why I even try, to be honest. It doesn't matter if I'm alone or with someone. It doesn't matter if it is warm or chilly. It doesn't matter if it is a hilly course or a flat course. I have no specific pain. It isn't a fuel issue. I just fall apart. At 15ish miles, I'm just done. It is almost like a switch is thrown. I am just done.
I have a lot going on right now. I work full time (and there have been a lot of new responsibilities there). I coach part-time. I coordinate a running group. I'm getting ready to start classes. I have an amazing social life. I am pulled really thin right now. And I think that my body/mind/spirit just cannot handle running for more than three hours. I think that is where everything that I don't have control of just draws the line.
And I don't know if I have it in me right now to fight that. It would be different if this was my first training cycle, if I didn't know any better. But I do know better. It is supposed to be hard, but it isn't supposed to be THIS hard.
I have ran a marathon before. I will run another someday. I just don't know if March 3rd is that day.
I have two options:
1) I can run the marathon. I will be nervous between now and then. I don't know that I'll look forward to it at all. I will sleep fitfully at my favorite bed and breakfast and then dread running in my most favorite city in the world. I can go up to that line, wearing my bib, and realistically not know if I have it in my heart to finish. I can have a great three hours and then struggle through three more hours. I was unable - and I do mean unable - to finish my 22 miler. I shut down mentally. And I know this is 90% mental. I just don't know if I have that.
2) I can not run the marathon. I can stop worrying about it. I can just make that decision. I can spend those same hours on race day standing on the sidelines. I can spend that time with some of the people I love the most - my Mom, Dad, Niece, Kelly and Toa - cheering for other people that I love so so dearly. I can let all of this fear and anxiety and disappointment go. I can release it. And I can enjoy Asheville and my family.
I felt really secure in my decision not to run when I started typing this out, but now I'm on the fence again. Now I feel - again - like a disappointment and a quitter. Like I'm letting everyone down, including myself. That I trained too hard and too long to just pull out because I'm scared. What started as a declaration of freedom from this race is now a tearful, prideful, fearful question mark.
I'm going to follow the training plan through the taper. I'm going to go pick up my packet. I'm going to see how I feel. And I'll deal with the aftermath either way.
I want to ask for words of wisdom, but I'm afraid things will just get more cloudy. And things feel very cloudy.
Screw that. You all know me. Thoughts?