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I am stronger than I think I am

by Meghann on April 26, 2012

Thursday, Thursday, Thursday.

It’s the last Thursday of the month – April is almost gone and May is almost here. This means that a week from today I’ll be packing my bag and flying out to Cincinnati for the Flying Pig Marathon. When I signed up for this race in January it felt so far away. I had months, weeks, eons to prepare. Where did that time go? How did it get to be only days away?

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Am I prepared? I’m not sure. But I never feel prepared. Taper time is the worst. it’s when I start doubting myself, doubting my training, and doubting my abilities. It’s usually the time when I step back, re-evaluate my goals, and take a minute to mentally adjust them. You know that 3:55 finish time I had my eyes on? Umm… yeah. I’ve already started telling myself that anything under 4:00 will be good. Hell, anything under 4:30 will work too. It’s the thought that counts, right?

I tend to have the same conversation with myself in the last few miles of a race. Right around mile 20 is when the “I don’t give a f*ck” attitude comes out and finishing is really all that matters – everything else goes out the window. No one will care that I didn’t meet my goal. Hell, they may respect me more for it. It’s ok to give up. People are expecting it to happen. They want it to happen. Who is this they? Everyone that knows I can’t do this.

It’s crazy the stuff I’ll have myself believing in the last 6 miles. Suddenly time doesn’t matter, goals don’t matter, the race doesn’t matter… making the pain stop is all that’s on your mind. To do that, I’ll talk myself into anything.

Marathons are NOT easy. Reaching a marathon goal is NOT easy. Believing in yourself when your mind is ready to give up is NOT easy. Quitting… is easy.

I’m going to make the same deal with myself that I made before my last marathon PR – I’m not allowed to mentally give up. Now there’s a difference between physically giving up and mentally giving up. If my body gives out on me physically (whether it be a sharp pain, muscle cramp, or something I know is terribly wrong) I’ll pull out in a heartbeat, but if it’s just my mind playing tricks on me, then I won’t allow it.

When the doubts start moving in on mile 20, I’ll push pass them. I’m saving my best songs for last (when i need them the most) and plan to keep my head in the game until the very end. Quitting is not an option. If you want to set crazy goals, you have to work your ass off to achieve them.

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What helped during my last marathon was seeing my sister at mile 20. I saw her right when I needed her. I had warned her ahead of time not to tell me I looked like hell, not to tell me that it was ok to give up, and not to tell me the finish line was right around the corner. She had strict instructions to tell me that I CAN do this, that I WILL do this, and that I looked strong. She told me to “run it for Maddie” (I know, sounds sappy, but surprisingly effective, especially when I saw Maddie’s face on the sign she created for me) and that she believed in me.

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My sister also pushed me through the final miles of our half ironman last September. When I started slowing down, she would start shouting words of encouragement (her favorite is quoting lyrics from Eminem songs) and shouting that we’re going to prove everyone who doubted us wrong and finish this f*ckin’ race. When I was too tired to sprint to the finish, she grabbed my hand and told me we could do this.

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As of right now, my sister and I do not have any plans to run together for Flying Pig (of course, we didn’t have plans for Chicago or Augusta, but we all know what happened there… ) and as I write this I worry I won’t be able to do this without her. She is my running rock, my running idol. Gulp.

Kelly! Don’t leave me! Run with me! I need you!

I went off on a tangent there. Didn’t I? What was my point? Oh, yes. When it comes to taper time, or the last few miles of a marathon, it’s really easy to start doubting ourselves and talking ourselves out of our goals. When that happens, just take a deep breath and remember why you wanted to reach that goal in the first place. Remember all of the hard work you put into that goal and remember you are stronger than you think you are. We are ALL stronger than we think we are. That’s what I’m going to remember next Sunday and that’s what I’m going to remember through the rest of taper.

3:55 or bust.

Gulp.

Game on. ;)

Food

I had a lovely lunch today.

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It all started with an idea for roasted carrots. I was craving something warm and out of the norm and roasted carrot sticks seemed to fit the bill. I simply roasted the carrots at 400 for 15 minutes with a little salt and pepper. I’ve found that BBQ sauce works best with any roasted vegetable.

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Next was the applesauce that caught my attention on the top shelf of the cabinet.

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The sandwich was really an afterthought. I had two side dishes, I just needed a main dish and a sandwich seemed to do the trick.

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The hot flat bread panini was filled with hummus, spinach, and sharp cheddar cheese.

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Not bad for an afterthought. ;)

Good luck to all the runners running Nashville this weekend! If you would like a little sneak peek at the course (from the spectator’s point of view!) check out my post from last year when I cheered Kelly and Ben on from the sidelines (and saw them SIX times along the course!).

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GREAT race to spectate. Maybe I’ll have the chance to run it someday too. :)

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Angela @ Happy Fit Mama April 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Running long distance is really more mental than physical in my opinion. Your 3:55 is right in front of you. GO GET IT!!! :)

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2 Niki@justrunninwithit April 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm

This is such a great post. I am registered for the NYC marathon in November and I was just tellin a friend that it is the last 6 miles that kill you and you start to question every thing and goals start to go out the window. I’m an avid follower of your blog and you have trained so hard! You can do it!! Best of luck!

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3 Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio April 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm

You’re going to rock the house!! Oh Nashville… so many memories. I ran the half marathon in 2010.

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4 Leah @ Chocolate and Wild Air April 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I’m running the Nashville half this weekend!! Can’t wait. Hopefully the rain holds off…it’s my first half!

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5 Victoria (District Chocoholic) April 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm

You did all the hard work. Now go own it.

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6 Esther April 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Get it, girl! I’m running my first half marathon in a week and a half, and I think I may read this post a few more times between now and then for inspiration :)

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7 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats April 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm

So exciting and scary at the same time! Just remember you’ve done this before and you know you can rock it! Honestly, for me, the best thing to do is to NOT think about it! I can get so worked up about things, so if there’s nothing I can do but worry, then I try and push it to the back of my mind!

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8 Army Amy* April 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Taper totally messes with your mind. Your body needs it, but the tricks it plays on you are no fun. The title of your post is right on: You are stronger than you think! Give it all you got, Girl!*

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9 Colleen @ seecmuse.blogspot.com April 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm

This post is coming at a PERFECT time… I’m running my first full *gulp* in Nashville this Saturday, and I’ve become a taper monster. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who goes through this! So, thanks for helping me through this process, probably more than you’ll ever know!!!
-CC

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10 Karen April 26, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I couldn’t have said it any better myself. I am scheduled to run a marathon on Saturday. And at this point, am just hoping to finish. I just keep telling myself that I’m doing this for me and no one else.

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11 Karen April 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Just wanted to say, that I replayed several of your words in my head while I was running the IL marathon today. I never really hit that metaphorical wall, and I think I owe a lot of that to you, so thank you.

I also plan on rereading this post before any/all of my long distance races.

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12 Sarah @ RunningChickago April 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Congrats on your marathon! I was there too, but I ran the half! :)

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13 Stepf April 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm

The Flying Pig is a fun marathon; I did the half two years ago. Let me know if you need tips on restaurants, etc. I live downtown. :)

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14 Lauren April 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Love this post!!!! You are going to ROCK it. Reminds me of something I wrote for the Philly Marathon in 2010 – http://exilaurenmarketing.com/top-5-truths-about-running-your-first-maratho-0

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15 Cait's Plate April 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm

It’s so nice that you guys have each other to do these things with! My boyfriend is my running rock so I know just that feeling of terror of being without the person that gets you through the hardest points of a race!

I think you’re going to rock it – I say you’ll be UNDER 3:55 ;)

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16 Lara April 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm

If you’re running the pace that you are trained for, those last 6 miles shouldn’t be miserable!! I trained well for my last marathon and chose the right pace to run it (based on a recent half marathon time), and my last 6 miles were some of my fastest of the whole race. Based on your 1:45 half, a 3:55 should be doable even with lowish mileage. Just make sure you start at that 8:57 pace, no faster!! Good luck!

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17 Meagan @ Managing Meagan April 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I think you’re going to do great!! You’ve put in some serious training and you’ve got the history and background. You’re going to rock it!! GOOD LUCK!!

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18 Lena @Fit on the Rocks April 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I love how great of a duo you and your sister are! My sister and I are JUST starting to become something like friends, and I’m 25 haha.

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19 Alex @ therunwithin April 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm

I really enjoy this post, thanks for sharing.

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20 Mary @ food and fun on the run April 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Get it Meghann! You got this race!!

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21 Sharon Couto - MomGenerations April 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I love this post. I laughed. I remembered. I commiserated. I almost cried when I saw the photo of your sister. I felt empowered. Thank you!

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22 Krissy @ Shiawase Life April 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm

You’re gonna rock Flying Pig, Meghann. I don’t say this just to be “yay cheerleader” on you, but seriously. Your posts and motivation for running have motivated me to set scary goals for myself – it’s what drives us!

You are going to crush this.

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23 Lauren @ Sassy Molassy April 26, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Yeah, I’m definitely fighting the negative nelly in my head who wants to tell me I can’t hit my goal this Sunday at the Eugene Marathon. But I’m trying to keep my head positive this week and reinforce that I Have trained hard and I AM READY to rock this race. Good luck!!!

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24 Kathy April 26, 2012 at 4:54 pm

cute post…and posters! I would say your mind seems ready…you are witty, having fun, and kind of crazy so like most marathoners you are ready.

Any good mantra’s you repeat in your head while running to keep you going/focused? Just curious. ;-)

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25 Meghann April 27, 2012 at 10:15 am

I usually tell myself ‘I am a machine’ to push myself through. I also like ‘Pain is temporary, quitting is forever’ and ‘There’s a day I will not be able to do this, today is not that day’

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26 Hillary April 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Doubts are normal, aren’t they? I like your deal with yourself re: not giving in to your mental stuff. Go in there positive, with a plan, and you’ll be great. Even if you don’t PR!

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27 Kristen April 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm

I’ve been known to want to mentally give up when running races as well. I think I’ve learned how to be stronger, but every so often the doubt creeps in (and I’m sure it will continue to try to creep as well).

Good luck getting your head together!

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28 Carrie April 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm

You’re going to do GREAT! You’ve put in all of the hours of training and now you will get to see your hard work pay off!

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29 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions April 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Woooo! This post has got me all fired up! I’m working my way up to a marathon (very slowly, but working my way up nevertheless), and this is super inspirational. You really hit the nail on the head with this–running is such a mental thing. Obviously physical endurance plays a big role, but if your brain checks out on you, then you’re toast. Good luck next weekend!

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30 Kayla Moothart April 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm

I know exactly how you are feeling. My marathon is THIS Sunday! Only three days away! I can’t believe that it is already here. I have done the same about my 3:45 goal… Reading your post makes me extra inspired to keep up with my “mental game” which I practiced this whole training cycle! Those last 6 miles are mentally draining! Good Luck!! You can do it!

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31 Heather April 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm

You can do it!!! I felt the same way before my trail half. I felt like I had so much time and the next thing I knew it was race day! Stay strong and good luck!

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32 Sarah @ RunningChickago April 26, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Absolutely loved this post. It’s just what I needed to read. I’m running a half marathon this weekend, and a full marathon in a few weeks, and I have definitely struggled in the past with keeping my mind motivated during long runs.

This Saturday, when I’m running the half, I’ll be thinking of your quote:
“Marathons are NOT easy. Reaching a marathon goal is NOT easy. Believing in yourself when your mind is ready to give up is NOT easy. Quitting… is easy.”

Thanks! :)

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33 Katy Widrick April 27, 2012 at 9:31 am

I am so proud of you and your attitude. Can’t wait to hear about this one!

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34 Autumn April 27, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Meghann, you are totally going to kick this marathon’s butt. You’ve trained so hard. You are more than ready.

Like Sarah, I needed this post too. I’m running a half-marathon the day before your marathon…and it’s also in Ohio! That’s where I’m from. I’m flying all the way back from Ireland to run the Capital City half. I’m so excited, but I’m scared. I’m trying to beat my time of 2:00:42. I have injuries, I’m tired, and I might still be a little jet-lagged after I fly in on Tuesday. But…none of that matters.

We can do this. We will not let our minds play tricks. We will not talk ourselves out of getting our goals. We will not settle for anything less than our best.

I wish I could come cheer you on on Sunday, but 6:30 am is a little early coming from Columbus. I’ll be thinking of you though, and cheering you on from a few miles away.

You’re gonna do great, girl! Good luck!

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35 Meghann April 27, 2012 at 6:02 pm

awww thank you Autumn!!! :) Good luck with your half marathon!

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36 Sarah April 28, 2012 at 9:37 am

I found your blog at just the right time! I’m running the Flying Pig on Sunday too and it is my first marathon. The tapering is totally freaking me out! Your words about finding strength during the low points have inspired me!

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