I’m officially two weeks out from beginning this Trans-Indiana run with the intent of raising as much money as possible for Family Reach. The logistics are all but hammered out, the media response is building, and I’m in the final efforts of preparing my body for this effort, which admittedly, I’m as prepared as I possibly can be.
With that said, not everything went as planned, but as I’ve learned with training time and again, that’s standard. It’s rare that all the pieces fall into place, the trajectory of physical progressions rises like a heart rate, and the final run goes off without a hitch. I’m actually EXPECTING some considerable difficulties during the run itself, but as with everything in life, it’s not about avoiding the adversity, but rather how you handle it when it comes.
I had my first and pretty much only considerable moment of training adversity a few weeks ago, when after completing an easy marathon long run, my left lower leg started revolting in the last mile. I completed the run in just a couple minutes past a BQ, and although the effort felt minimal, the stresses accumulating from the run and previous days proved too much in the end. All of a sudden I was “injured”. My shin hurt to the point that I simply couldn’t run on it…or even walk comfortably. And yeah, I started to freak out a little bit.
Surely I didn’t just ruin my ability to run this benefit run a month before the start date. Surely I didn’t just force myself into an entire month off of running when I hadn’t even broke 30 miles yet. Surely I didn’t just waste all the time, all the promises, all the fundraising I had created to this point. That was NOT an option. I took a deep breath, called my sports massage therapist friend, and committed to practicing the appropriate recovery measures I’ve learned over the many years of DOING IT ALL WRONG.
In the past I would have went into COMPLETE freak out mode, calling off any potential goal race plans, sinking deeper into depression each day, and trying to run at every delusional moment of recovery…further putting myself into the hole of injury. This time, I decided to wait it out, get my massage, rest when I knew it was necessary…and then rest some more when I thought I might be ok. Every night I was icing, wearing supportive shoes, sleeping with a compression sleeve, upping my protein intake, and creating new gods and new prayers to make sure all my bases were covered.
Long story short…with some excruciatingly painful, but amazingly effective massage sessions, and all the other activities I mentioned, I woke up the first day of my vacation and went for a pain-free 5 mile run. And just like that, I rested myself out of an injury and quickly got back to training.
I had saved myself from a lot of running difficulty, handwringing, explaining and apologizing to others and so forth. I was ready to run again.
The first week back I put in 50 miles…and continued into this past week, figuring out the best plan to make sure I was ready to cover 50 miles..and again..and again..and again…
I kept my mileage at 10 miles a day as I double checked to make sure my injury wouldn’t flair up again and when it seemed safe, made plans for the weekend long run, which just happened to fall on my birthday. Perfect.
“Run your age” is what I always tell distance runner friends of mine on their birthday…seeing if they’ll actually do it. Some have…most haven’t. I was one in the latter category, but always thought that would be a rad thing to do, and this was the perfect opportunity. So without telling anyone but Laura, I made plans to complete a 39 mile run, primarily by eating a lot the days before, loading up my trailer will all the supplies I’ll be taking on my BWC run and mentally priming myself to run through any potential adversity I might meet along the way.
Waking up at 5am, I readied myself and started running down the street under a dark 6am sky, regretting not putting a blinker on the back of my shorts. I made it to the traffic free rail-trail a few miles later, however, and pointed myself northward for approximately 17 miles. Doing my best to run a very reserved pace while periodically fueling on a part schedule / part intuition plan, I made it to my turn around point feeling good and only with mild tightness in my legs.
I pointed myself South to run out the 17 miles the other way and tried to mimic the first half effort, staying conservative, fueling well, and occupying my mind with positive, encouraging thoughts and stories. It was only when I got to about 5 miles from home did I start to have to push through physical strain, when pace seemed to get slower and slower, and I kept imagining what it would be like to have to run TEN MORE MILES on the first day…and then the next and the next and the next…
But with 4 miles left I was surprised by Laura waiting at a street crossing with a box full of vegan birthday donuts! With the most amazing amount of self-restraint, I let her keep the donuts from me until I got home and focused on completing the run. As I started to finish the last bit of rail-trail the physical difficulties remained, but I was emotionally lifted from seeing Laura, and managed to keep pushing myself (and the trailer…literally) up the 3 miles of incline back to the house.
I made it home, took the obligatory and ridiculous social media photos (donuts included), and quickly got to GETTING THE HELL OFF MY FEET.
And with that, I had run the furthest OUTDOORS that I ever have. The previous record was 30 miles (45 on a treadmill). More importantly, I learned A LOT about how to appropriately pace the run, fuel the run, and work my way through various ups and downs while being engaged in a physical effort for so long. I also built a tremendous amount of confidence and encouragement…and excitement…to get into the actual BWC run, knowing I wouldn’t completely fall apart.
My concerns weren’t completely gone, however, as running this distance once is one thing, but being physically able to do it again is something else. I was very curious how my body would recover and if I would be able to run ANY distance the next day. I took all day to reconsume all the calories I burned, stretched my legs, foam rolled, and did all the little things to make sure I would be as recovered as possible.
I woke the next morning, definitely stiff, but without concerning pains and was encouraged to go through my normal 10 mile run. It was a slow run, undoubtedly, and although it was compromised even further by heat and humidity, I was able to run through steadily and recover again. Another encouraging realization leading into the run.
So now…we made it. I’m just hammering out the logistics with media contacts, sending out press releases, trying to secure one more donated/discounted hotel room (help a brother out Seymour, Indiana!), finalizing the nutrition plan…and running out the last days to the 23rd when I drive North, point myself South…and go.
I will also, hopefully, be meeting Dylan, who I highlighted in a previous blog post, this weekend. Dylan and his family were aided by Family Reach while he undergoes treatment. It’s been difficult trying to schedule a time to meet him in person, but I’ll be sure to update the blog when we make it work.
And really, that’s what this is all about to me. The idea of running down the state sounds awesome…I won’t deny that, and there is an obvious personal, selfish motivation to this run…but the most important reason I’m motivated to do this is to bring attention to the work of Family Reach, to put their name out into the world more than they have already done so, and raise as much money as possible to help all those financially struggling in an already stacked, problematic economic structure while pushing through the adversity of cancer treatment.
Thank you to everyone who has donated to this fundraiser. You may never meet the recipients of this financial aid, but you know me…and I can tell you the value of these funds can’t be expressed enough.
Feel free to keep pushing this fundraiser out to your wider community.
Thanks friends, and I’ll be sure to update again before the run starts on the 23rd. Let’s hope for unseasonably cool mornings!