I ran eleven miles this past Sunday.
That's a bit of a misnomer -- I hit what they call "the wall" HARD at about 8.5 miles and had to walk the last three to get back to my house. My legs just locked up and while I could bitchwalk (my super fast full long-legged stride speed walk) every time I tried to start jogging again, my knees would refuse to bend and my hips stopped pivoting in their sockets, causing me to feel wooden and lead-filled at the same time.
I didn't trust that I wouldn't fall down, injuring myself a month out from my first half-marathon.
As I've increased my distance each Sunday for my long runs I find myself inching closer and closer to my childhood home, which is an entire city and across a county line away. On my way I now pass two places that I used to work, and at least three addresses of family and friends.
I run past the street where Kyle lived when I met him, past the parking lot of the bank we tried to watch fireworks from and ended up fighting through it all our first summer together, though that old strip mall has long been demolished and rebuilt. I run past the Asian buffet that gave me food poisoning so horrible I had to be hospitalized in middle school as it nearly killed me -- it has not been demolished, but it should be. I run past a dilapidated two-screen movie theater, a mid-century relic I remember visiting occasionally as a child when it operated as a discount theater. I run past the park where I first took Kiedis to play on the swings on his first birthday, still too terrified of the parks by my house, preferring instead this suburban one. I run past the first hair salon I remember visiting with my mother, where I got my first perm in fourth grade.
And then, when I reach the halfway point of my distance, I turn around and run back, passing it all again.
I have runner's knee and something's not quite right with the arch of my left foot. I creak and crack like bubble wrap whenever I stand up or take a flight of stairs. I've torn through two pairs of running shoes and am in the process of decimating my third -- I'm not even sure they'll make it to the race.
My thighs are a force to be reckoned with. My calves barely fit into my fall boots. My butt appears to have lifted and shrank at the same time (I mean, WTeverlovingF). After gaining fifteen pounds at the beginning of my training regimen, I'm finally dropping a little weight while noticing the differences in my body from the long and lean muscle I've always maintained prior.
I lace up; I gear up.
I'm still in a place where I mostly hate it (or at least find it a giant inconvenience) but my body craves it when I decide to skip a day or try to push it back. I am incredibly nervous about this race -- about the amount of people who will be there, about having anyone to cheer me on as we realized all too late that we probably should have gotten a hotel room near the race for the night before and made it a trip for all of us, and making it on time the morning of will mean we'd have to leave home at something like 4AM and that's a lot to ask of the kids and Kyle. But the hotels are full and we can't really afford one anyway, so our options are pretty limited.
I am nervous about not finishing in enough time, of being too slow and being kicked out or just not finishing by the time they set as the end. I am nervous about the weather and figuring out what to wear and fueling and hydration and my phone battery lasting and being alone in a sea of 7000 runners.
I'm a wreck about this all.
In a strange way, running has become both a therapy and a trigger. The time to myself and the silence has been excellent, post-run. But the demands of training and the pressure of the impending race give me incredible anxiety while the "runner's high" causes me to cycle rapidly afterwards into a hypomanic mess. I'm overly feely about everything these days anyway; this forced cycling isn't really helping.
I didn't anticipate this being such an emotional exercise -- if not more than -- a physical one.