Here we are, the day before the day before the marathon. Christmas Eve Eve, if you will.
Almost 800 miles of running over 24 weeks in the early mornings, heat, and humidity. Nearly six months of what I lovingly call “No Fun Fridays” — kicking off the weekend with no good food, no alcohol, and bedtime at 9 p.m. And now, we taper!
Through all those weeks of running, I’ve been drooling over this taper week. Low mileage! Feet up! Relaxation! And yet, taper week has not been what I had expected.
Instead of relaxing, I’ve got two kids home sick with the flu. Stress is high, and I’m exhausted, anxious, and have a lot of laundry to do.
I have spent most of taper week thinking, what if I can’t run this race.
I feel silly being dramatic about the marathon because it’s just running. This is not life or death or even well-being. My livelihood is riding on it, it isn’t the Olympic trials; I’m not even trying to qualify for Boston. In fact, my goal is just to have a good experience. It’s the lowest goal in the sport of running.
And yet, if I get the flu, I won’t be able to run. And all that training.
It’d be a giant, giant bummer.
I’ve gone down so many spirals this week. I’m masking inside and am on an anti-viral (that causes nausea, which is NOT GOOD for race day! But it’s better than the flu).
So far I haven’t gotten sick, which is HUGE. But, taking care of these kids is exhausting, whatever is energy leftover is being siphoned out of my body to fuel worry that I WILL get sick in the next two days.
Maybe the worst spiral I’ve gone down is the thought that this goal was too audacious. Who do I think I am? I don’t have the bandwidth to do this. I’m a mom with four kids and dinner to make! That’s my purpose and my focus, and not even 24 weeks of training can overcome that. The flu can trample any goal, particularly when you’re managing six immune systems.
That thought is exactly why it took me so long to sign up for the race in the first place. Who am I to think I can run a marathon? This is too big, too scary, too hard. Not for me.`
A week ago I watched the New York Marathon to get hyped up for my race. 12 hours later, my kid started coughing and acting lethargic. Instead of getting hyped, I’ve been watching post-NYC marathon media thinking “why wasn’t my race last week? When my family didn’t have the flu?” Everyone who ran New York is complaining about the weather but what’s worse than a warm day? The flu!!
Keira D’Amato, my favorite elite runner who HAPPENS to live a few miles away from me, ran the NYC marathon. She posted a reel this morning on Instagram commemorating the weekend, and it ended with a photo of a note that read “Keira – You did it again – way to make me proud. Never surrender, XO.”
I read it and wondered who wrote it. Then I remembered — from an interview she once did — that SHE writes these notes for herself to find after the race. Before she knows the outcome, she writes herself a hype note telling herself how proud she is.
That’s pretty cool, eh?
This particular spiral, the “Believe in yourself” spiral is not one that I have gone down.
I can’t run like the pros, but maybe I can and do something that resembles this. MAYBE instead of rolling my eyes at myself for setting a big goal, I should be proud of myself for taking the risk. MAYBE I should consider that 24 weeks of training will get me to the finish line even if I’m tired and stressed.
MAYBE I should realize that, if having four kids has taught me anything, I’m capable of more than I think I am.
We’ll find out in fewer than 48 hours. Me vs. the flu vs. the marathon.
In the meantime, I suppose have a note to write.