#10. The real reason I’m training for a marathon

I’ve finished two marathons, both of which were disasters in their own special ways.

During the hot and steamy Rock n’ Roll Marathon in Nashville, I hit the wall at mile 13. MILE 13. Only halfway through. My then-boyfriend/now-husband offered to leave me at the medical tent. Furious at his apparent nonchalance towards my suffering, I hobbled through the second half and finished out of spite. (Lessons learned: First, it’s hard to run long distances in unexpected heat. Second, skipping those long training runs was a bad choice. Third, sometimes my anger is excellent fuel.)

Things looked more promising at the Space Coast Marathon in Florida. I had trained conscientiously and carefully, and I was running the race with my training buddy. The marathon felt nothing short of blissful until mile 20, when my body and brain suddenly revolted, no warning given. I gagged, I cried, I gagged some more. I finished. I cried. It was ugly. (Lesson learned: my pace out of the gate was way too fast by at least half a minute. I should have put the brakes on.)

Part of the reason I’ve signed up for the Harvest Marathon is to right those wrongs by training properly and taking it slow. I’ve stuck to my training plan so far, even the long runs and even with all of our traveling. As for pace, I think that because I’m running solo this time, I’ll be able to better maintain a sustainable speed.

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Morning run near Roswell, NM

But the other reason I’m doing this marathon is because… I want to run an ultramarathon.

Yes. Ideally, this marathon will be a stepping stone towards a 50K and maybe even (dare I say it?) a 50 miler.

Given my history with long races, I’m not quite sure why I want to do this or why I’m so sure I can. But I really do, and I really am. There’s something telling me that as a runner, I’ve only started to tap into my capabilities – maybe not so much in terms of speed (on a good day, I can run an 8:30 mile without feeling totally winded), but definitely in terms of distance.

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Morning run near Willis, TX

Part of that confidence comes from seeing what my body has accomplished and how it has changed in the last year, especially since I’ve started strength training and adopted a vegan diet. I’m leaner. My core is stronger. My stride is sharper. And my recovery time seems to have diminished considerably. On that last point, I ran 14 miles this past Sunday, and by Monday night I wasn’t sore at all. (Maybe there’s something to this idea that vegan diets are associated with speedier recovery.) I feel like I’m healthier than I’ve been in years, so why not push myself to do something more difficult than I’ve ever attempted?

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Pasta for breakfast. Because running.

Plus, what can I say? I love running and I like difficult challenges. Did my two previous marathons feel like forms of torture? Yes. So much yes. And yet somehow, in some convoluted way, I still enjoyed them. Or at least, I enjoyed the feeling of pushing myself to my limit and completing them.

I’m currently researching 50K race possibilities in December of this year or January 2017. We’ll probably be in central California then, so the race should be in that area. Although I enjoy running on dirt, I haven’t been training on trails and I’m not up for 31 miles of hilly single-track – so I need an ultra that’s mostly on flat-ish land. That narrows the possibilities considerably.

Research is in the works. In the meantime, if you happen to read this and have suggestions for ultras that seem to fit the bill, let me know.

Run on,
Susanne

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