The past 2+ weeks, I’ve spent a ridiculous/embarrassing amount of time watching the Olympics (BMX = an Olympic sport. Who knew?) and can’t help but marvel at how easy the athletes make it look — Jenny Simpson closing in the final 100m to win bronze in the 1500m, Emma Coburn medaling in the badass steeplechase, Des Linden making 26.2 miles in the heat and humidity look like a Sunday morning jog, and don’t even get me started on Allyson Felix… Their various social media pages are filled with all the rewards and the good stuff that comes with being a world class athlete: the sweaty smiling selfies, the successful tune-up races, the confidence-boosting training runs, and the free goodies from sponsors. But what you don’t see, are the workouts that aren’t all rainbows and glitter, the diabetic-coma inducing (translation: delicious) dessert you can’t eat, the late-night party you can’t go to (and by “late-night”, I mean anything after 8pm), and the mind-numbing exhaustion that comes with pushing your body to the limit day after day.
I am by no means an Olympic athlete, but I do a fair amount of training and I’m guilty of only highlighting the good stuff and leaving out the terrible, horrible, no good very, bad days. Last week I ran 80 miles, worked out at the gym twice, had PT, spent the weekend at my sister’s house celebrating my nephew’s 2nd birthday(!!!), and spent a whole bunch of hours at the office. I texted Sam, “I’m so tired I want to vomit” at least once a day and made myself nauseous from drinking too much caffeine on more than one occasion. I’m 7 weeks away from my next marathon, so as much as I want to watch TV and eat junk food until Thanksgiving, I can’t.
7:10am: first alarm goes off. Oh hell no.
7:20am: ugh. Fine. I go through my closet, pick out a skirt and a more-than-likely clean shirt. Pair them with my most feminine/professional looking Birkenstocks, because my poor high mileage feet aren’t tolerating much else.
8:23am: out the door, on a subway 18 minutes later. Score.
11:06am: is it lunchtime yet?
11:41am: no, seriously, is it?
5:18pm: let the rationalization begin, “if I skip the workout tonight, I’ll still have 70 miles on the week and that’s not too bad..”
6:37pm: while on the treadmill, “how slow can I go but still get in my 6 miles before a 7:15 workout?” Because I may get lazy, but I’m always obsessive about my miles…
7:23pm: Seriously. Can we not, with the burpees?
8:02pm: Yay, workouts are done. I’m going to spend the rest of the evening pretending I’m not doing it all over again tomorrow.
There are some days I refuse to look at my Google calendar because anything more than a quick glance makes me want to crawl back into bed, in a bedroom that *sometimes* smells like a men’s locker room (high mileage = lots of sweaty laundry). I look at my feet, at the one toenail I’ve lost so many times that it resembles wood, at the ridiculous tan lines from my Garmin and Road ID, at the chafing marks from my sportsbra that are so gruesome I look like I got clawed.
But then there are other days where I look at the medals on my wall, at my collection of bibs, and at my pile of running sneakers. These are days when I feel like I could run forever, where I desperately need my evening run, where I don’t know what I’d do without my long runs. The days where I recall race memories I wouldn’t trade for anything: having my dad jump on the course of the Westchester Marathon and run with me for 30 seconds before he got too tired, laughing as my mom got so excited she dropped the camera when I came in 2nd at the Yonkers Marathon, running my 10th Boston Marathon the “Boston Strong” year and trying so hard not to cry as I made my final right and then left turns… Oh and then there was that time I ate three black and white cookies and a slice of cake because, well, I came in first at the Long Island Marathon, and I was allowed. Because as much as training can sometimes suck, there’s nothing better than sitting on the couch, sore as f*ck and deliriously exhausted, yet wonderfully content.