run, rest, eat, bitch, buy things, cross-train, blog, repeat.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The bitch within...

Generally speaking… I’m a nice girl. You’ll never catch me instigating a bar fight or being outright rude to someone. Besides the occasional foul language (okay… its more than occasional…) I’m a chill, laid back girl who doesn’t get my panties in an uproar very easily.

But there comes a point in my running sometimes… where I am borderline… on the edge of ripping someone’s head off or collapsing on the ground crying my eyes out.

This was first evidenced by my co-blogger, April. Let me take you back for a moment… it was March 17, 2006… I was visiting April for St. Patricks Day (and possibly both of our birthdays?) in Memphis and since we were both training for our first marathon… we planned a 20 mile run that morning. April had ran 20 a couple weeks before, but me… being the slacker I was at the time, was embarking on my first 20 miler.

The run started off awesome. We started in Shelby Farms park… running a couple loops within the park and then we branched out and crossed the street. For the first 15 miles, I was money. I was chatting it up, excited and amped that it was my favorite holiday and that since I was running 20 miles, I’d be able to drink as much beer and irish car bombs as I wanted (yeah… in hindsight, I REALLY should have eaten something instead of just drink afterwards, that’s another story for another day… one that April’s husband Greg squeezes into conversation EVERYTIME I see him. Dude, you’re the one that broke out the tequila in the first place. I can’t be held responsible for what happens to me after multiple tequila shots).

I was feeling good. I was feeling like I was going to be able to kick that marathons ass in a few weeks. And then… like a ton of bricks… without warning… I hit the wall. The Mental wall. It was about mile 18, and we were making our way back to the park. I could see the building way across the street and I kept telling myself… okay, only a couple more miles to go. We eventually crossed the street and I was repeating thank you sweet jesus and happy that we were almost finished and then April says to me…

“So, we just gotta run around the lake and back to the building and that’ll be 20 miles and we’ll be done.”

And that is when I completely lost it.


“We have to loop around the lake to make it 20, we’re only at about 19/19.25.”

“[expletive, expletive, expletive]. Are you kidding me? We have to run around the [expletive]-ing lake, too?

It was like she had just told me that she slept with my boyfriend, ran over my dog and slashed my car tires.

“You didn’t tell me we had to run around the lake!”

“Well, we need extra mileage to get to 20.”

Obviously…. I knew that… and obviously I knew it wasn’t her fault. But it was the last thing I wanted to hear. I had already mentally checked out and didn’t think I could make it another mile.

After about 3 minutes of cussing and bitching and moaning, I realized that I was being a total bitch and tried to crank my music up and power through the last half mile or so. April, trying to cheer me up, no doubt… tried chatting me up, but I was having none of that…

“Sorry dude, I gotta dig deep.” I told her. Yes, I literally said “dig deep.” I know, it’s gay, but after 19 miles I was struggling.

When we finished, I apologized about being such a wimp and a bitch. We laugh about it now… (well, at least I laugh…).

Unfortunately, this is not a one time thing. In almost every marathon and a couple of other long runs, too… I run into this mental breakdown where the slightest, most insignificant thing can set me off. I guess it’s just the exhaustion, it just turns me into a complete and utter wreck.

At Chickamauga, I did really well… I didn’t break down till around mile 25 or so… when the lady that was running the same pace as me was constantly complaining to her running companion how bad her legs hurt and how she couldn’t do it.

I was so close to saying to her… “of course your freaking legs hurt, you’ve ran 25 miles… you don’t think all of our legs hurt and are cramping? Of course they are… if you want to feel good at the end of a [expletive] race, then stick to 5ks, bitch. Shut your mouth before I come over there and kick you in the damn shins and then we’ll see how bad your legs freaking hurt. Shut the hell up. No one wants to hear you bitch and moan about how much pain you’re in. Either suck it up and finish or stop and walk it in. Thankfully, I didn’t say that, instead I somehow mustered up some extra strength and powered my way past her.

Yesterday.. on a measly 12 mile long run… I was close to getting there again. Vandy Montana and I ventured over to East Nashville’s Shelby Bottoms Park for a change of scenery and for a flat, fast route. Things started off well… Around mile 7, I was bragging about how I could easily run a half marathon that day if I had to… that I was feeling good, etc, etc.. and then… mile 8 came and I hit the mental wall. For the next 4 miles I struggled to keep it together, mentally. To be fair… I didn’t really fuel up properly the night before and probably drank a little too much wine, so my energy level drastically swan-dived. Also… we were negative splitting. Which, is good! That’s what I want to do on long runs… but 8:45/8:50 miles are significantly tougher and it was catching up to me.

Vandy Montana wore his GPS and after every mile it beeped. That beep was like music to my ears. By the time we got close to having a mile left… I said… “well, only a mile left.” To which he responded.. “actually, a mile and a quarter.” And that… that’s when I mentally lost it. Even though 400 meters is essentially nothing… I felt like he had just kicked me in the stomach, stole my purse, and left me there to walk home. I tried tricking myself… I even tried counting the seconds down… but for the next 1200 meters I felt like flopping down on the pavement and throwing a tantrum. Thankfully, by the time we had 800 meters left, I regained some composure and was able to finish strong-ish.

It’s funny just how something so physical… boils down to being so mental. I mean… as long as you do the training, your body is fine… it’s my head that gives me the most trouble. So, that's something I'm going to try to consciously work on this training period. I go to so much trouble and time to do the training runs for my body... I should put a little time and effort into trying to train my brain, too, right? Maybe I can do more than just quieten the bitch within.... maybe I can eliminate her altogether...


J said...

Basically if I had heard that woman complaining in the marathon like you did, I would have thought the same thing - LIKE word for word! lol

Sometimes it is mental but I am sure you will overcome it! Just take it one step at a time!

ECrunnergirl said...

Holy cow you sound JUST like my Running Buddy...she does the SAME thing....gets all mental at the thought of just one more mile etc. She gets horrible and bitches bad and she turns into what I call the Hulk....and she falls all apart too and I can't EVER get her out of it

Good news is....she has gotten better as her running has improved and she has gotten stronger and the thought of just a few more meters doesnt bring her to her will happen for your inner bitch too soon!! Good luck girl!!

Anonymous said...

Too funny -- I'm more like Vandy. I have a friend who in a half marathon will say "only 3 more miles" when we hit marker 10 and I'll say "point one." I feel like I have to always brace myself for the full distance and can't take mental shortcuts, or I'm likely to want to quit .1 short of the finish (more likely I should say, I always want to quit but never actually do of course).

I love your commentary about the marathon woman. Sometimes I think the only source of my energy late in a race of almost any distance is getting away from someone irritating -- a complainer, a spitter, a loud breather, a swishy-pants wearer, whatever.

Danielle in Iowa said...

Me and my running buddy pretty much have a pact to never hold anything said during the last miles of a workout against one another... Good thing we can both be bitchy and it isn't just one of us :-)