Thank You, President Obama, For My 24 Mile Run
"We don’t quit. I don’t quit."
President Obama said that during his first State of the Union address and I've made it my mantra all week.
It was running through my mind at 4:15 this morning as I contemplated whether to shut off my alarm clock and get up, or snooze-button it for another 15 minutes.
Bang-bang-bang-bang -and then two more - bang -bang. Gunshots rang out in the early morning darkness. Moments later the scream of LAPD sirens echoed across the hills, and it was clear that sleepy time was over. My mental preparation for running 24 miles had to be put on pause.
I needed that mental preparation because my last really long run, a 22 miler three weeks ago, really sucked. My stomach cramped up something terrible and I ended up walking most of the last three miles. It was the WORST run I've had since I started running in 2008... and it's a little hard to believe you can do an even longer distance when the most recent long-distance run you've done kicked rocks.
But, I don't quit and one bad run don't stop no show so I ate my peanut butter on toast, drank water, made my cup of Earl Grey, got my running supplies together, took my allergy medicine and headed out the door into the darkness. The full moon was shimmering over the western sky as I zoomed along the 10 freeway toward Santa Monica listening to some DMX. Yeah, that's right, DMX. I needed a lil, "Grrr! What's my name???"
I met up with my running group but, ahem, I had to really pee because I drank all that water and the tea. One bathroom was locked and the other had an insanely long line. So, shh... I decided to go find a clump of dark bushes to, um, "hide" in. The first clump had a homeless guy sleeping in it-- sorry for stepping on you, dude -- but the second clump was a winner so I handled business and headed back to the start.
First we ran north along the beach bike path. I loved watching the moon's reflection shimmer on the surface of the Pacific but after a couple of miles we headed back south and into the sunrise. We ran through Santa Monica, through Venice, around the marina in Marina del Rey, through Playa del Rey and when we hit Dockweiler beach directly west of LAX, wow, the planes taking off over our heads were amazing. We turned around just north of Imperial Highway to head back the way we'd come.
While we were running, someone else in my group brought up how marathon running (and training) is 70% mental and 30% physical. I'd like to think it's a more even 50/50 split because of all the midweek training I put in between long runs, but whatever the percentage, the mental makes a huge difference.
This week I read a good article called "Breaking through the wall" about how the proverbial wall that many marathoners experience is mostly mental. I love the first sentence: "Just when you think you can't go any farther... you can."
"We don't quit. I don't quit."
This ended up being one of the best runs I've ever had. The photo above is me a couple minutes after I finished - no hobbling across the finish line. I felt so good I could've run another two miles, no problem.
Sometimes I think that if there's one word to describe my life, one theme for what I'm about, it would be perseverance. I don't let other people (and their issues or fears) stop me. If it's hard, bring it on. -- Not all at once, mind you! I'm not sadistic! But I like the challenges. I like pushing through the tough parts so I can come out on the other end of things, and I don't mind if my legs are a little sore post-run. I don't mind sitting in a bathtub full of cool water and then dumping in a 20 pound bag of ice. Is it cold? You betcha! But the Pasadena Marathon is in three weeks and LA is in seven and, well, I like medals.
Thank you, Mr. President for the mental inspiration to get me through my 24 mile run. Don't be surprised if you see me on LA's race day, March 21st, wearing a custom made shirt that says "I don't quit," on the back.
PS: Yes, the front side will say Depeche Mode is awesome!"