Some days, more gains are made through struggle than through hitting your stride.
Such was the fate of my weekend long run.
The countdown continues for the Miami Half Marathon and my two-hour run had significant tempo intervals. These were paces I had not previously held, at least for any significant amount of time, in a training run. Yet my coach believed I could do it. More importantly I believed I could do it.
I entered the gym focused and ready to go, prepared with index cards and tape for the treadmill display (one with the breakdown of my workout, one with positive affirmations) along with my gels and water bottle. I settled into my warmup. I turned up the pace for my first 20 minute interval.
And it felt horrible.
I had something going on with the toes on my left foot (the same area which started bleeding during the Buffalo Marathon), my right arm was sore and a cramp was developing in my side where my heart rate monitor wrapped around my torso. I made it 15 minutes at the tempo pace before jumping to straddle the treadmill, taking a sip of diluted Gatorade Endurance and ripping off my heart rate monitor strap.
My 10 minutes of recovery was much slower than anticipated.
In fact, for the rest of the workout, I was well below the speedy tempo work I had intended to do.
About an hour into my run, my friend Sue arrived. I again straddled the treadmill to take some water and told her I wanted to cry.
Ah, but I didn't.
I refocused. A good friend of mine who lives in Texas (and also happens to be named Amy) was doing the same workout at her gym, giving me solidarity on the treadmill, even if we were roughly 1400 miles apart. She was suffering just as I was and that knowledge helped me through.
Among the options available to me were to (a) quit (b) start a conversation of negative self talk about the way the workout was going and (c) change my story.
Choosing Option C made the run a success regardless of how fast my tempo intervals were. The run wasn't "bad" it was hard. I didn't quit. I didn't give in to the negative thoughts, the doubts that can easily creep into your head. We can do more than we think we can, and at that moment, finishing the workout was what was important.
In the end, I finished nearly 12 miles. But it wasn't the distance or the pace that was particularly important. Those are numbers and the numbers will come.
What I gained for Miami was another bit of mental strength, another experience I can rely on when the course gets tough. I know that I can devise a Plan B on the fly -- and get to the finish just fine.