Slow and Steady Wins the Race

The Kindness of Strangers

on August 16, 2010

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I started thinking about the 17 miler on my schedule pretty much as soon as I was done with my 14 mile long run.  The jump to 17 just seemed so CRAZY!  It takes me back to the days of doing Couch to 5K and the jump you make to running 20 minutes straight in week 5.  The feeling is the same.  It feels like you are trying to walk up the side of a mountain without any climbing gear.  This is why people say that running is 90% mental (or whatever percentage you want to assign to it).

When I got up on Saturday  morning I was going through the motions of getting ready and I was in no hurry to get out there for this run.  I was DREADING it.  I knew it was going to be hard.  I knew I was going to be running for nearly 4 hours!  I am in the stage of training where I am feeling a little burned out.  I knew that I would have this feeling at some point.  There is always a point in training for a race that you say to yourself – why am I doing this?

My answer?  Because I can.

I also like to prove to myself that with willpower and determination, you can do anything.

When I got out on the trail, the first few miles were rough.  I finally found my rhythm though.  For the first time ever mile 9 was not where the pain in my hips and knees started.  I actually still felt good!  The WALL is moving!  At mile 10 I had had enough of the rocks bouncing around in my shoes and I sat on a bench to take my shoes off.  As I was shaking the pebbles out of my shoes a lady approached me and asked where she was on the trail.  She hadn’t been paying attention to the markers and wasn’t sure how far out she was.  I told her she was about 4 miles out from her car.  She mentioned that she had missed running with her Galloway group that morning and I told her I was using the Galloway Method on my run that day.  She asked to run with me and I said I was happy to have the company.

This lady was quite a bit older than me and I learned that she had run 10 marathons.  I got to hear about her favorites and her experiences in the different races.  She ended up being a bit of a savior for me.  At about mile 12 I was really starting to hurt.  Having a person to talk to was the distraction that I needed to focus on something other than my legs wanting to fall off.  When we reached the parking lot where our cars were I was at mile 14 and needed to refill my water bottles.  She said she would carry on with me if I wanted her to and I gratefully took her up on the offer.  Otherwise I might have gotten into my car and drove home.  My legs were killing me.  My calves especially.

The last 3 miles were tough.  Some of the toughest I have ever encountered mentally and physically.  This random stranger was pulling me through it and I don’t think she knew how much she was helping me or maybe she did having run 10 marathons.  That’s the thing about the running community.  For the average person, it isn’t about winning the race.  It’s about finishing.  We all want everyone around us to finish.  Run, walk or crawl.  Just finish.  She wanted me to finish my distance for that day.  I told her how much pain I was in and I think she made it her mission that day to help me reach my goal.

In this crazy world there are still kind and helpful people.

I finished my 17 in 3:48:00.  Average pace 13:24 min/mile.

Funny moment of the run – we were discussing the Galloway training program and I mentioned how crazy it was to make the jump from 14 miles to 17 miles to 20 miles.  Running friend says “Jeff isn’t Hitler.  You can modify the program.”  This struck me as insanely funny.  I don’t know why I am so rigid with the training program and feel like I have to follow it to the letter.  NOT doing the mileage on the piece of paper never crossed my mind.  For some reason I feel like that is cheating.  Stupid, I know.

Food confessions – I ate 3 meals out this week.  One of those was after my long run.  I deserve a cheesesteak and fries after 17 miles.  Bowls of ice cream – 2.  Cookies – too many.  Overall this was a pretty good week for me food wise.  I didn’t snack too much.  Weight this morning was at 159.

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2 responses to “The Kindness of Strangers

  1. Alisa says:

    Wow! You did it! You will be finishing that marathon in no time! Keep up the good work. I am rooting for you.

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