Sunday, January 11, 2015

12 Miles to Nowhere

Yesterday found me with 12 miles to run and no good way in which to complete them.  Due to family commitments, I had to fit in my long run in the morning, and Mother Nature was not smiling upon me.  The temperatures barely reached 15* with windchills hovering around 5*.  Knowing that my 12 miles would take about 2 hours, I reasoned that it would be unwise to spend such a long time out in the bitterly cold air.  I'm as badass as the next mother runner, but losing a toe to frostbite isn't high on my to-do list.

With the outdoors off the table, I was left with one other choice: 12 miles on the treadmill.  In my dark, uninviting basement.  With baskets of laundry and bins of outgrown clothes to keep me company.  By Thursday, I was 93% certain that this would be my fate, so I had a good 36 hours to prepare mentally.  I knew I just had to embrace the suck and do everything I could to make it as painless as possible.  I downloaded several episodes of the Serial podcast, cued up a few episodes of Friends on Netflix, and lined up my water, dates, and headphones on the treadmill console.  Time to quit moping and make it happen.

My Strava post after the run.  I stand by my assertion that
monotony is better than frostbite, though I'm not sure by how much...

The run began worse than I expected.  The first mile dragged on forever, and I couldn't wrap my brain around the possibility of logging another 11.  But by mile 3, my mind had accepted my fate and stopped complaining about the unchanging view.  I found my zone for miles 3-6, but then my brain re-engaged and started rioting.  6 miles was my previous treadmill distance record, and both my brain and my legs knew it; neither of them wanted to continue past the 6-mile mark.  It took all the mental strength I had to stay on the treadmill because every fiber of my being wanted to hop off and call it a day.

After fueling at mile 8, I found my stride again.  "Just 4 miles to go," I told myself.  "You can do this!"  I knocked the speed down a little, switched from podcasts to Netflix, and solidered on.  Mile 11 was another low point, but I forced myself to kick up the pace for the final mile.  I upped the speed every .2 of mile 12 and finished feeling strong but exhausted, both mentally and physically.  It was undoubtedly the hardest run I've had in quite some time.

I climbed the basement stairs and rejoined the family, barely mustering the words, "that.was.hard." in response to my husband's inquiry about the run.  I was totally spent, yet at the same time, I felt like a rockstar!  As I laid in our dining room with my legs up the wall, I thought about what I had done: powered through when I wanted to quit, tackled an insane number of miles while staying in one place, and lived to tell about it.  I have no doubt that I will face mental difficulties such as this on race day.  This run was an opportunity to practice my response when negative thoughts try to defeat me.  Though I didn't break any land speed records (why is it so much harder to run on a treadmill?!), I am so proud of my effort.  I will carry this victory with me for many future runs and remember that the harder the battle, the sweeter the reward.

What's your treadmill distance PR?  Given the scenario, would you have braved the cold or faced the treadmill?