So, yeah, I have managed to get over the mental hump that this training cycle became for me. I honestly think that a lot of this was related to the fact that I went into this cycle knowing that I was training alone. My previous two marathons have been constantly trained with someone else, especially on the long runs, running with my group at Buckeye Running, and Jes on the first marathon and Karen on the second.
But knowing that I was running this one alone (all of the gang from my run group is running in Missouri the weekend before Chicago), I really felt like I needed to train alone to work on my mental game right out of the gate.
Plus, working with Coach Jenn, I knew that I was going to have a very different schedule and plan than I ever had before. And I definitely do. My volume is generally MUCH higher than any race I have run before, and I am feeling good. My body is feeling good, that is... But my mental game has definitely needed more work, and I hope that I am there now.
But like I said previously, things were not great there for a few weeks. I am grateful to Coach Jenn for talking me off the ledge more than once during this training cycle, because I really was ready to throw in the towel. Seriously. There was a week in August when I went out for my run on Monday (first run of the week!) and about 1/3 of the mile into the run, my back started hurting so much that it wrapped around to my chest and I was struggling with my breath. The feeling I was getting took me back to the end of pregnancy just prior to the baby dropping (at least in my case), when you feel like you constantly had feet kicking your diaphragm. I had to stop the run and emailed Jenn immediately telling her about the pain I was having.
She shifted my schedule for the rest of the week, and even helped me when I couldn't get through the long run (I only managed 6) letting me know that I was completely on track still. Sometimes life gets in the way, and working with her, I knew that I could adjust things, move my runs around, and still keep things on track to hit my goals. I have not had to think about it since telling her what my goal was when I first started working with her back in May.
I think (and Jenn thinks too, since she pointed this out to me) that once this happened, my confidence was somewhat shaken. I started freaking out and melting down over long runs, including one particularly bad 18 miler that I quit on just three miles in. After crying and freaking out for well over a half hour, I ran the other 15. And hit my paces.
The week after that, I was on vacation. I got through two of my three runs when I was gone, but was suffering from shin pain (I attribute this to one of two things, walking around Coronado in Toms and my imagination since I was struggling with my mental game) on the day of the third run. I didn't do a long run that weekend either (I was scheduled for 12, I ran 6). Addie was having a bit of a missing mommy meltdown since she did not come on vacation (vacation post to come!) and I just was feeling off from all of the travel.
Missing this run was it for me. I sat down in my neighborhood at 5.5 miles. I was in someones lawn. I was crying. I was questioning everything that I had going on. And I made the decision that I was done. I was not interested in the marathon. Not interested in my BQ. I was over it, moving on, and thinking "hhmmm. I can always run the Queen Bee in Cincinnati, it is the same day!" I declared my feelings to my running friends, to Jenn, to J, to twitter... And the next day I got up and ran 4 instead of my planned 10.
By lunch, I had talked to Jenn, and I was back on the marathon train. I ran the last 6 miles (plus strides) that night at home, and I was BACK on track and going for it. That weekend I ran a successful solo 20 miler with 9 miles at sub-8 pace (I was supposed to run them at 7:50, but it was absurdly hot that day) and an average of 8:08 for the full 20.
Having Jenn on my side is the only way that I have managed to survive this training cycle. Yes, I am running the miles. It is my legs and lungs that are out there. But, at the same time, I am not sure that I would be ANYWHERE without her...