So after my crazy emotional breakdown at Ancient Oaks 100, I switched my ultramarathon focus to something a little more intimidating for me: running a fast marathon. I chose the Knoxville Marathon as my cardio killer of choice, and the ensuing training has nearly killed me in more ways than one. Being a carefree fun loving ultrarunner, I almost forgot about all of the breakdowns I get when I train hard for something. Almost… until last Saturday.
So picture this: here I was, in nothing but my underwear, around 11 o’clock at night, up preparing a breakfast my family could stick in the oven while I was gone running in the morning. And mind you I’m not doing this happily, I’m all huffing and puffing, completely conflicted with the fact that I’ve got to wake up at 4:30am [at what really felt like freakin' 3:30am due to time change and losing an hour] to go do an extremely challenging long workout…by myself.. the cherry on top. So Dan comes into the kitchen and asks if I need help cooking. And I just go bat[crap] insane and start to pitch a crazy hormonal induced fit:
“No!! Gawd Daniel. I don’t need your help!!! I’m perfectly capable of cooking a freaking breakfast for my family and doing every freaking thing that I need to do–BY MYSELF!!! You are always asking me if I need help!!! Stop asking me if I need help!! I don’t need help. I just want to cook a breakfast..at night. I CAN DO THIS!!!!”
Of course Dan is standing there gawking back at me and trying really hard not to laugh, and it just pisses me off more. So I hurl a [very feminine] punch at his chest and scream “Ughhh! It’s not funny! Leave me alone!!”
To which he responds by wrapping me up in his arms…annnd I cave, turn into a little wimp, and start crying some estrogen laced tears.
And the first words out of my mouth?….”I don’t want to run this marathon.”
Ahhh… she’s run herself crazy again? Maybe not. Stick with me here…
I let Dan coddle me for a few more minutes of that emotional “I don’t want to run this marathon” thing before I put my big girl pants back on.
I crawled into bed, pondered the secrets of the running universe, then woke up exactly 3 hours later to get ready for my workout:
Clothes -check. Shoes – check. Garmin – check. Confidence – ehhh…Check????
The workout was sure to bring some pain: 5 miles at 8:20 pace, 5 at 7:20 pace, 5 at 6:50 pace all on hills, then a fast run to the top of Stone Mountain. .. God help me.. As I got dressed, I started to have the typical pre workout brain chatter:
“Why the heck are you doing this? This is freakin moronic.”
“Nooo…C’mon Ashley, pull your crap together. Discipline. Discipline. DISCIPLINE.”
“Discipline? Please. You know nothing of discipline. Seriously, why are you doing this? Go back to bed.”
“Bad Ashley. Don’t listen to that. Drink more coffee. You’re gonna slaughter this workout.”
…I swear I’m not schitzo.. most of the time.
Somehow I finally made it out the door, but it wasn’t easy. I hopped in the car, turned on the radio, and — a song about depending on God for strength was on. Really??? Really…? Yup, I lost it. I started sobbing again. I mean literally sobbing. Like I actually had to pull over the car y’all. It was pretty pathetic.
And I don’t care what you people think, because this is my blog and it is what it is. But, I shut my eyes for a second, there in my car, on the side of the road, and I prayed: “Hey God. Obviously I need some type of clarity…or a pill to fix my hormones? But either way… I don’t know why this whole marathon thing is destroying me so much. It’s just a freaking race. And there’s so much crap that is a billion times more important. But help me get over this– and see the bigger picture. Help me see why running this race means so much to me.” (Yes I really do say things like “crap”, “freakin”, and “stupid” in a prayer. God knows what’s up.)
And after that second breakdown, I continued on my merry way.
I finally somehow got to Stone Mountain, parked in the empty dark parking lot, shakily got out of my car, stepped onto the running loop, pressed go on my Garmin…and began to slay my demons one mile at a time:
So why the heck am I doing this? Each mile brought clarity.
Mile 1: Because it feels absolutely amazing to put myself through this pain.
Mile 2: Because running fast and alone in the dark of the night is euphoric.
Mile 3: Because I said I’m gonna give this race my best effort, and my Dad taught me that I can’t go back on my word.
Mile 4: Because life may be hard, but somehow, it’s still just too easy.
Mile 5: Because discipline at this level is an essential building block of my life
Mile 6: Because I need moments like this to get real with myself and with God.
And each mile after…. Because somewhere deep in my DNA, it’s etched in there that I AM A RUNNER. And I simply cannot deny that.
I ran every single mile that day with passion and purpose, and at the end, I climbed to the top of “my mountain” and savored the incredible taste of pain in my mouth as I welcomed in the sunrise over Atlanta.
I did what I came to do. And I got the answers I was looking for.
So why do we run? Why do we push ourselves like this? Why do we run a marathon, or any race for that matter, when we simply don’t want to?
Because when it’s all said and done, we know deep down that it’s worth it.
Thanks for reading! What are all of you up to lately in your running world? Ever had a break down like mine? Haha…Leave your comments below! ~Ash