I chose "this man" to train me to not only complete my first marathon, but to help me qualify for the 2009 Boston Marathon. The Boston Marathon represents the top 10% of elite runners in the world...so to be able to qualify is one thing..but to qualify for Boston in my first marathon is a completely different story. You guys know that "this man" is my daddy and I am already looking forward to running the streets of Boston with him by my side.
Yesterday he sat out to test me. We have completed so many different runs and I have responded well to all of our training. Dad has been saying for weeks that he can't quite figure me out...he's pushing buttons and I'm responding well. His reward for my progress...push the one button certain to test my resolve.
Let me back up for a minute...
For those of you who have followed my journey, you know that I have learned so much from running. I found discipline when I needed it...I found the importance of maintaining priorities...I've learned to not only love but have a deep appreciation for my body...and yesterday while I was lugging around my sweet little Layla up and down the steps before my big run, I realized that I SERIOUSLY need to work on my mental toughness. I've always been one to freak out. I have a crazy imagination and I find it very difficult to reign in my thoughts...to not let them consume and sometimes defeat me. This is not just a running thing...but its a "me" thing--its an emotional intelligence thing. I realized even before my run, that I needed some work. I also have a hard time with "not knowing". I like to have a plan a, b and c. I like to walk through each plan on try to see where it my fail and how I'll respond. Clearly...not knowing my route for the run was going to be a huge test. I was already a nut job.
SO...fast forward to 1:30pm yesterday. Dad and I drove out to the country...I kind of knew where we were heading, even though dad kept all the details TOP SECRET...as part of my test.
The first couple of miles were on rolling hills (note...the name of the town was HILLSVILLE..um, yeah). I thought, if this is all dad can throw at me, I am SO good to go. It was difficult, but no more difficult than anything else I've done. The last turn we made was on Hillsville Rd. We were on that road for what seemed like an eternity. I was praying for a stop sign...a sign indicating a bridge...even a little yellow sign warning of a side road--something to break up the silence of the road. NOTHING for miles and miles except for some encouraging McCain signs and burning leaves. I thought this was my mental test. I was getting sort of frustrated with not knowing how much longer we had or what was up ahead...but I knew I had to pass this test.
Dad passed me a Gu pack...told me to take it even though we only had three miles to go? Strange--but okay? We went down a nice little hill and I looked ahead and saw a mountain--Caraway Mountain. Interesting. How were we going to get around that mountain. It so clearly looked as if we were going to have to run up it...that would be silly though, right. Um, wrong. Dad and I ran uphill for 2 miles...up mountain hills for 2 miles. No downhill break...no leveling out...2 MILES of uphill climbing. Around each curve in the mountain, I thought "this has got to be then end". I was looking like crazy for break lights...yellow signs. We made our last turn...I looked up and saw a hill with an incline so steep that I couldn't even see the top. I lost it. I cried...right there on the road. Completely broken. I told dad that I've never been more mad at him in all my life...and it was true. We started up and half way...I stopped. My legs burned so bad that I couldn't move. I would have laid on the side of the road in the ditch if I knew it wouldn't take so much energy to get up and walk again. Dad talked me through it (bless his heart)...I gathered myself and what was left of my mind and legs and started back up. We made it...I experienced my wall...my dad was proud of me.
Go back and read the quote at the top of the page..perfect description of how I think my dad treats me...
Dad told me in the car on the way home that finishing a marathon takes preparation and muscular endurance and strength...but qualifying for Boston during your first time out requires a mental toughness that you can just get by doing normal long runs. I have to be able to push past hurt, exhaustion, tears...to dig deep...because in December...I won't know what's around every curve. I passed my test and left everything on that mountain. I can wait to find a pupil to take out on that same run with me one day...anyone interested? Come on..it'll be fun.