Back in November of 2016, I had one of my worst races I have ever run. I was running the Madison Marathon under trained and injured. Within a few miles, I went from feeling fine to not even able to jog. At mile 20 I had to decide whether I was going to continue with the pain and do some sort of jog/walk through the last six miles or drop out of the race. Mentally drained, I wanted to drop out so bad but ended up hobbling through the finish. Even though I finished a marathon, I was feeling an extreme sense of defeat and failure.
I knew that I was a better runner than that, and I wanted to prove that to myself. In late November, I got the opportunity to register for the Illinois Marathon, which is coming up on April 22nd. I did a month of rehab to get my injuries taken care of and I signed up for the Twin Cities 10 Mile Hot Dash race that happened on March 18th. It perfectly fell into my training schedule for Illinois Marathon and it was going to provide a nice gauge of how well my training was going. I even got one of my buddies to sign up so that we could run together.
When I was beginning my training, I was very determined to power through the elements of winter in Minnesota. I was excited for the Illinois Marathon for a lot of reasons one of them being my “redemption” race. I needed something to put the Madison Marathon performance behind me. Also, I have never done a Spring race. Sometimes you need the extra push to get through the winter hibernation in the Midwest. I was very excited for the race from all angles.
My training has been going well throughout the winter and It was getting close to my 10-mile Hot Dash race. I was feeling confident and I was excited to run the race with my friend Paul. We talked and encouraged each other all winter long. The week of the race started. I have been going on runs more than 10 miles already for me training so I wasn’t worried about the distance but I did have some nervous thoughts just because it was going to be my bench mark for Illinois Marathon. The week was going well and then Wednesday evening came.
On Wednesday, March 15th, I came home after work, went on a quick recovery run and went to meet my buddy for Happy Hour drinks. Felt fine through the process until later that evening I got hit by a metaphorical train that had “Stomach Flu” written all over it. For the next 48 hours all I did was constantly get sick. There was no food or water intake without immediate feeling of sickness. It wasn’t until the day of my race that I was able to actually eat some food without seeing it twice. I had no other choice but to drop out of the race.
This marked the first time of me dropping out of a race. It was a crappy feeling for so many reasons but the main ones being that this was going to be my gauge for Illinois Marathon, I asked a friend to run the race with me and was planning on running it together, and this was the first race since my failed attempt at Madison Marathon. IT SUCKED! Hating the fact that I was dropping out on a friend, I went and supported him through the race and Paul did an awesome job.
The training road to a marathon is never a straight shot. There are always twists and turns that slow you down, situations that try to break you, runs that are mentally draining, and obstacles that tend to look higher than they are. The truth is, it is never easy and it is impossible to predict how your training will go or what the outcome of a race will be. The drive and the desire for the athlete to compete and to succeed, no matter what the level of success is, is what drives us to take the road of training. Even with my set backs in training for the Illinois Marathon, I am so focused and extremely excited to run the race on April 22nd. My 2017 race schedule started out pretty crappy but the next race is always what I have my eye on. I am so pumped to make the trip down to Champagne, IL to run this historical marathon.
How do you stay mentally tough throughout your training?