As I started my attempt at running a second marathon in 7 days yesterday, I wondered what the next 7-8 hours would bring. My first steps let me know it wasn't going to be a great day at all - my shins were burning making me stop frequently (just like the old days). They eventually loosened up so I kept plodding along. I wondered how I could feel so cruddy after only 4 days off and why it was taking me so much energy to just think I could even finish the half-marathon to say nothing of actually doing the full marathon. I was amazed at the downward spiral my mind was taking. I was filled again with self-doubt and self-judgment/criticism - the bane of our existence. It was as if that special week in time was a figment of my imagination, a dream, even a fantasy.....How could I possibly have done 7 days in a row and done a full marathon after 5 halfs and now with this 4 days off I can't seem to do anything? What was going on?
But then I realized it was about momentum!
I was able to do the other events because I had the momentum and just "kept going". As I was running (a combination actually of running/walking yesterday) I drew the parallel between this sequence of events with my realization and life and pursuit of any dream/goal. It's interesting how we can continue moving forth once we get started and even the uphills don't seem so bad because we are already moving. But if we stop for a bit and then try to get started again, going uphill in life consumes a phenomenal amount of energy and it seems so much easier to just turn around and go backwards down the hill or just stay where you are, never venturing further up the hill. I remember the one thing I never wanted to do was get off my bike on a hill because for me it was virtually impossible to produce the amount of energy it took to just get started when you're already on the hill. To keep on going no matter how slow while the wheels are spinning takes energy for sure but not as much as starting from scratch.
Maybe this is why so many people have trouble when they are "dieting" (it applies to the pursuit of any goal however). You do really well and then for some reason, something happens and you aren't as "perfect" as you think you should be. At this point, it's like stopping on a hill (the way most people look at diets or weight loss) and it's probably a hill you didn't want to be on to begin with anyway. Starting up the hill again (resuming your rigid control of your food intake) takes so much energy and seems like an insurmountable obstacle. Rather like me yesterday thinking "how on earth did I do all that last week - or did I really do it? How am I going to be able to run even 13 miles today?". Looking at the accomplishment - the final result - was the insurmountable obstacle. I had to readjust my vision and focus (remember we talked about that in part 3) to concentrate only on the next step, the next mile, the next lap etc. That was the only way I was going to regain any momentum because the 4 days that my life returned to 'normal' had disrupted that amazing momentum that I'd had and relished in.
So what did I learn from that? You have to keep the momentum going no matter what it takes. The danger zone lies in stopping. We can't ever stop moving - preferably moving forward in some way, shape or form, but at least moving in some manner. When you work toward your dreams, your goals, those things you want to pursue, examine your feelings and use your feelings to generate the passion that will produce the momentum for you. Take small steps, look only at the small chunks (my new favorite phrase is "chunk it down") for they seem much less insurmountable than the big picture. Just keep going in some way shape or form.
And even more importantly you just HAVE to have a support team and a coach. Even if the "coach" is not an official coach, create one. Find someone you can work with or even just look up to. I keep reiterating that without Parvaneh (the most wonderful race director in the world) I would not have even thought I could accomplish any of this. And yesterday was no exception, she and the other folks continuously cheered me on.
In case you're wondering, I did complete the full marathon and I'm pretty darn proud of it. The last 4-6 miles were very tough for me but then Parvaneh, Angela and Dagmar dragged me with them for the last mile and I made it.
Just keep moving forward!