November 9th, 1989, will always be known as the day the Berlin Wall came down. On a slightly less historically relevant note, January 10th, 2010, will be known as the day I ran my first marathon, the Walt Disney World Marathon. Why do I compare thee? Because so far, to date, I have never hit the wall...
There are a few things that all runners , and many non-runners, have heard of. We have all heard the term "Runners High". We have all heard about the races we run. The 10k, the 5k, the half marathon, the marathon, even the 50 yard dash.
Some of us will know more of the technical terms like "Tempo Runs", "Hill Workouts", and "Interval Training". But the big one, the one we all wish we didn't know, is "Hit The Wall". Hitting the wall to a runner, would be like removing the tires from the wheels on a race car, with about 20% or 30% of the race left. It becomes a completely different race. Instead of worrying about your speed or your pace, you start to worry about weather you are going to be able to even finish the race...
Or so I have been told.
28 days from now, I will catch the red Eye from here to Orlando. We will land about 9:00 in the morning. The plan is to spend the day at Disney World, and then get to bed early. I will need to go for a run the morning we get there. That ought to be fun. Throwing on the kicks and heading out after about 10 hours of travel.
But before that, I have four weeks of training left... I will wake up sometime around 5:00 am 17 more times between now and race day. I will strap on my shoes, layer on my running gear, and hit the streets four times per week for the next four weeks. I will run 105 training miles between now and then. Yet, I will never hit the wall.
Tomorrow morning I run 12 miles with my long run group. If you read this tonight, 12/11/09, please send me an e-mail, and tell me to make sure to dress warm and kick butt! ( email@example.com )If you read this tomorrow, shoot me a message and ask me if I actually got out of bed (not a chance in h e double tooth picks that I will miss this run), so give me props on my morning 12, it's gonna be cold. If you have my cell number, send me a text.
29 days from today, I will wake up in my hotel room in Orlando, and not go for a run. The only Saturday in the last six months that I get to sleep in and not feel guilty about. I still don't get to sleep in. You don't go to Disney World to sleep in...
Next Saturday, three weeks out from the race, we run 20 miles. Both the longest distance I will run during my training, and the longest distance I will have ever run, up to that point. Those are the mornings that I lose sleep over. It will give me a decent gauge on how my race is going to go. I think I will get a little taste of the pain that will be involved. I will get to work on the mind games that will hopefully enable me to keep my mind on the prize... and off the pain.
Between now and that 20 mile run, I will run five of the seven mornings. Those are the runs that I sometimes struggle with getting out of bed. A little help is always appreciated... ( Facebook message). I am somewhat confident that I will be able to run the 20 miles. It's the training runs between now and then that dictate both my pace and my pain that I am not so sure about.
When I get up on the Sunday morning of the race a month from now, it will be more like Saturday night. The race is at 5:40 am, and you have to be in the lot at the park by 3:00 am to get on the ferry and make sure you are there on time. With the two hour time difference between Phoenix and Orlando, that means I will need to leave my hotel by midnight or not much later (AZ time), to be at the starting line when the gun goes off... WTH!?
What time do you need to go to bed if you need to be up by midnight?
About two weeks out from the race, I will start to taper my training. That means that I start cutting back on my mileage. My Saturdays will go from 20 miles, to 10 miles, to six miles. After building up in miles every weekend for the last six months, it will almost feel like cheating. It will be a nice change after averaging over 80 miles per month for the last half a year.
By Christmas weekend we will will be down to about an hour and a half for my long run. I don't know if that will be enough to burn off the turkey, gravy, and hot toddies I plan on consuming over the holidays. Shoot me some inspiration to get out on the streets and run off some of that extra insulation I will be packing on ( Twitter ).
With 30 days to go, I am starting to get both nervous and excited. I am starting to think that I will actually be able to do this. But I am getting nervous about how I will react when I hit the wall. I have talked to people that hit the wall at mile 13, mile 17, mile 22, mile 23, mile 25, and just about every other number between 11 and 26.2. You know who I have never spoken to? I have never talked to the guy that didn't hit the wall. No one has ever said that to me.
Will I be the first? Will I be the only person in the world to run a marathon and not hit the wall? My guess is not. So the real question is: How am I going to respond when I hit the wall? Will I step up, or will I fall apart. Will I dig deep and fight through it, or will it grab my by the throat and shake me like a little rag doll?
When my knees start to shake, and my hips start to burn, or my calves cramp up into a bag of knots, what am I going to do? My question is "If you have been running along at your goal pace, and you hit the wall, how do you keep going and reach your goals? How do you not give up?"
I get to spend 4 full days in the happiest place on earth. (Adam Dopps, now that you have been running 4 days a week for the last 6 months, where are you gonna go? I'm going to Disney World) Now, with that being said, 30 days from now I AM going to hit the wall. I will, at some point, develope concrete sacks for legs, and rubber bands for lungs. I will reach the point, that I will question my metal.
The other thing I know is that when I am running that 26.2 miles, 30 days from now, I want to be able to look back and think about some of the things that I heard from you readers. I want to get 300 e-mails, facebook messages, blog comments, or tweets between now and then. When I hit the wall, I will start running your comments through my mind. The funny ones. The inspirational ones. Even the ones calling me an a$$hole. Actually those are the ones I love to think about when I run. I want to prove them wrong.
About 100 people per week read this blog. Send me a note. I want to have a lot to think about that day. I need to have something to laugh at during my training runs. I want to have something to thank you for when I'm done.
November 29th, 1989, the wall came down. January 10th, 2010, I will be breaking down another one. And I will be thanking and thinking of you.