It doesn't look as though I'm getting any better at consistently updating my training. Once I update the training plan for Nora, and then write it a second time into my Logbook, recording it a third time here just sounds exhausting. I know I will be glad that I did because my memory is shit and it will be nice to have this to go back to in the future.

Coming off of the magic of last week's adventure at Umstead, I had renewed excitement for my own race. I hadn't started to become less enthusiastic for it, but the weeks of training were starting to wear on me, as they would anyone. This is the longest training cycle I've ever had and this mental boost was very welcome. Another welcome surprise appeared this week and in week 16. FITNESS. I felt like I had been putting in the work for a while now, and rolled with the punches as best I could with all the business with my hips. I got massages, incorporated strength work, warmed up and foam rolled when I didn't want to do anything. It certainly didn't happen overnight but it also felt like a switch finally flipped. 

I did a few workouts in weeks 15 and 16 that I have done many times before (5 or 6 miles with 3x30 second strides per mile, 6 miles with 10x1 min hill repeats in the middle, etc.) but the outcomes were changing. Yes, the times on my watch were faster and I'd be a liar if I said that wasn't awesome. What really got me excited was how I felt during and after those workouts. I felt STRONG. The effort wasn't taxing like it used to be. I felt like I could have pushed more if the workout called for it and I wasn't drained by the end. I had to laugh at the fact that it only took 16 weeks for me to get here, ha! Hell, I'm just glad to feel strong, if that was how long it had to take to get me there, who cares?! It feels amazing to feel strong and capable, maybe even a little confident. Not cocky, to be sure, but a little confident. 

Week 15 summary: 
Miles scheduled: 34
Miles ran: 34
Time on my feet: 6:37:03

Week 16 summary: 
Miles scheduled: 36
Miles ran: 36
Time on my feet: 6:42:12

It isn't all sunshine and rainbows, though. That would be too easy. Now that my brain isn't wasting time fretting over weekday workouts it refocused its energy freaking me out over the long run. I haven't had issues with my anxiety in a long time (thanks to therapy, medication, and hard mental work) but in recent weeks it has reappeared with a vengeance. There is nothing wrong, truly, but anxiety doesn't care because it is a crafty MOFO. Anything longer than 10 miles suddenly sounded too long and it would take me forever and I'd end up walking all of it and how in the hell would I ever finish a full 50k. Sounds like a party, right? Who doesn't want to wake up at 5 am on a Saturday convinced that they'll be sitting in the middle of a trail sobbing by the 5th mile?! That is where I've been the last couple of weeks. 

I don't have any evidence to support any of those thoughts being the truth. And I know that my long runs are going to take as long as they take because pace is not the point. Time on my feet is what matters. And as far as beating myself up for having to walk a bit? Girl, I will be walking come race day because that is how most ultras work. I've got almost 4,000 feet of elevation gain waiting for me and it is dangerously foolish to convince myself that I can run every step come race day. If the smart person trains the way they want to race, then I need to train with some walking. This doesn't mean strolling and if you've been on a long run with me when I take a walk break you know I don't take my sweet time. If its a hill, I'm hiking and if its flat I'm like an old lady circling the local mall. Every step has a purpose. 

I've been up front with Nora that this is a struggle for me right now and she's got a plan for making my mind as strong as my body. The heat and humidity have been a contributing factor as well, and I know that it is normal to slow down and feel crappier sooner in those conditions. I hate it, but I accept it. I'm also reminding myself that "it takes as long as it takes." I've gotten all my long runs in, even if I thought they took too long or I was too slow. I haven't quit, and there were times where I wanted to. Where I texted Nora and basically asked permission to do so. Permission was NOT granted, and I am glad. I think it would have made the anxiety so much worse and opened the door for me to bail on subsequent runs. I keep showing up. I want to prove that part of my brain wrong and showing up is the only way I know how to do that. 18 weeks down, 8 to go. 

 smiling because I'm done

smiling because I'm done

Week 17 summary: 
Miles scheduled: 38
Miles ran: 38
Time on my feet: 7:31:18

Week 18 summary: 
Miles scheduled: 38
Miles ran: 38
Time on my feet: 7:58:01