Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…


We all experience it from time to time.

You’re training for a big race and everything’s moving along smoothly, and then it blindsides you: a crummy long run and suddenly all of your confidence flies out the window.

This morning I went out for a 16 mile run with two friends, Ali and Bess. Ali and I have been running together for a few years and Bess and I recently began linking up once or twice a week for trail workouts and long runs (she and I met in training for the Anchorage Marathon in 2006, but I was way intimidated by her speed. It took me training for three marathons and an ironman before I felt worthy of her running company – this was all in my head, of course; for all of her accomplishments (more than a dozen marathons, a trip to heartbreak hill, Ironman Lake Placid, and back-to-back races with Dean Karnazes during his 50 in 50), she’s one of the most laid back, unhype-able runners I’ve ever met.).

It was a blustery morning today, and running alongside the river didn’t help matters. From the outset, I could tell it wasn’t going to be an easy one. We started off into the wind and by the three-mile turnaround I was already feeling a little bit battered. We paused for water at mile 6, and again at mile 11. I don’t normally need two shots of fuel for this kind of run, but since I was already dragging, I decided to play it safe and suck down a hammer gel at each stop.

As we set out for the last five miles, I took note of sharp pains shooting up my right leg. What is usually localized in my hip today radiated through my ankle and my calves (though mercifully, my knee was fine). The quarter mile markers seemed to get further and further apart as we ran along Boat House Row, and when we finally reached the 2.5 mile turnaround, I was questioning whether I’d be able to run back.

Ali decided to kick up her pace and power through the last couple miles, but Bess stuck by my side and distracted me with stories of battles of the Ironman sexes as we made our way back toward the art museum, the wind finally at our backs.

I’ve come up with all sorts of reasons why today didn’t go well. It was windy. I was never able to get warmed up. I didn’t eat enough yesterday. It was my first week without the comfort of the gym, and the lack of cross-training left my legs tighter than usual.

All of this is true, and yet when it comes down to it, it was just a crummy run. And as much as I wanted to shake it off and move on, it left me with that nagging feeling. Doubt. Doubting whether I could qualify. Doubting whether I could even finish. Doubting whether I should do the two-day snowshoeing race this weekend and risk further injury.




In the end, Bess and I averaged 8:45’s for our 16 miles; Ali finished a couple minutes ahead of us. A respectable pace in the quest for a successful marathon performance – and perhaps even a BQ – in May, especially given the conditions.

Ali and I attempted a few minutes of stretching and then, after determining that such efforts were futile with the wind and the cold, we headed over to a local brunch hotspot for steaming mugs and hearty meals (peppermint tea and an egg white primavera frittata for me… mmm…).

By the time I got home, I was feeling a lot warmer and a little bit more optimistic. These things happen. I know this. I’ve had these sorts of mornings before and I always have a better one the following week.

And yet…


10 responses to “Doubt

  1. N.D. February 28, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    You know how it goes.. you’ll have a great long one next week and feel much better. You got through it and that is what matters! Don’t put so much pressure on yourself – I feel like you didn’t have any on you for Philly and you did great! Keep your head up and stretch it out. That bfast sounds great!

  2. Kim February 28, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    For one…pat yourself on the back for getting out there.Two…be happy you covered your distance…and your pace…I would die for it!Three…sometimes doubt can push us to work harder.Just one of those days…sometimes they make us stronger. Along with appreciating those tough days.

  3. X-Country2 March 1, 2009 at 12:21 am

    You wouldn’t feel that sense of accomplishment after a great run if you didn’t know what it felt like to have crappy run. Your next run will be better.And how yum does that brunch sound? Mmmm

  4. I Run for Fun March 1, 2009 at 12:38 am

    This run just proves you are capable of toughing it out in the roughest conditions. And we do need bad runs every now and then so we are prepared to handle the worst at the race, right?

  5. The Happy Runner March 1, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Ah, doubt. I know it well. I think we all do! Don’t let it get you down. The tough runs will make you stronger!

  6. Denise March 1, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Happens to all of us and you summed it up perfectly. Yesterday was not a fun day to run, I agree. The wind and temperature killed me yesterday for some reason. I ended up doing the last 7 miles of my run by myself and that was even worse!! You had a great pace, though so the “bad” run was more in your head than your legs.

  7. Kristin March 1, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    I had the exact same run yesterday, I set out for 17 and from the beginning I could tell it was going to be a bad run but I kept on. I had to stop and walk a fee times and my gel didn’t seem to help. Ended up only making it 15, had a mini meltdown at 13 and was so upset once I got home. But you’re right, these things happen. I’m sure nest weekend will be better…hopefully. Good luck with your training!

  8. RunToFinish March 1, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    oye you think that’s doubt… try not being able to run more than 3 miles at a 10 minute pace…haha, good bye boston. oh well hopefully i still have a respectable finish time

  9. Kristin March 1, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Thanks for the comment, and I really like your suggestion of bumping up the mileage in blocks. I might try that in the next few weeks, I will let you know how it goes! 🙂

  10. aron March 2, 2009 at 12:00 am

    that is still a GREAT run!!!! and really you have to have those runs, they are what you pull from during the hard parts of the marathon. AND they make the good runs that much better. you will have a GREAT run again very soon!

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