Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Fortitude


What is fortitude?

I discovered a lot of fortitude on my virtual 13.1 this past weekend. I won a free entry to the Skirt Sports 13er run via Pahla B's blog, Adventures of an Amateur Athlete. I would love to have run the live event in Boulder, but well, life. There was a virtual race option. I felt a commitment to running this thing, even though I wasn't in 13.1 shape. Part of my winnings included $50 to spend on Skirt Sports merchandise, plus a finisher skirt. I wanted to earn my prize. I also felt a commitment to Pahla, because she told me how excited she was that I won. She said she knew I'd actually run the race. I'm not one to shy away from commitments.

Yep.

I dug deep for this one.

Fortitude is what allows you to run a race you aren't trained for.

Plus this was half marathon #13 for me. You know I'm somewhat superstitious. Last week I saw a black cat on the sidewalk and I skirted around him. I didn't want him to cross my path...

Fortitude is ignoring superstitions.

Before the race. When I was still dry.
It was pouring rain when I woke up this morning. When it stopped, I headed out the door. Into the 90% humidity. Silver lining: it was cloudy and 70F. I was wearing that finisher skirt for incentive. I knew I had to earn it.

Fortitude keeps you running 13.1 miles virtually in tropical conditions. When you want to quit. Even though there's no one around to keep you accountable.

I started out slow, on the bike path, running at about 9 min/mile pace. In hindsight, I probably should have started out slower. The path was pretty empty, save for a few other runners. About mile 5, my GI tract started rumbling. I knew there was a gas station about a half mile ahead and pressed on, the rumbling turning into full on red alert. I dashed through the gas station door. The friendly gas station attendant greeted me, and I said a quick hello while trying to appear calm. I had an episode much like Beth of Shut Up and Run wrote about here. I didn't deserve that thank you either. But feeling much better, I smiled at her as I dashed out the door and headed off to the forest preserve.

Fortitude pushes you to run 13.1 miles when your tummy isn't cooperating. Really, are you going to quit because of a little GI distress?

On the trail
After my potty stop, I started sipping on my Tailwind, and felt better. At this point, I was sweating like crazy. I noticed my finisher skirt had a big sweat stain in the front. Lovely. I was happy to see that the parking lot was empty. But on the trail ahead of me, someone who looked like Grizzly Adams came out of the woods. I picked up the pace, passed him, and kept looking over my shoulder. Luckily he walked in the opposite direction. Yikes. It's never dull here.

Fortitude allows you to feel strong running alone in the forest preserve but staying alert. Maybe my fortitude was making me a little too brave...

Once I hit the part of the forest preserve that is more populated, I relaxed and slowed down. My little sprint took a lot out of me and I struggled while I waited for my heart rate to slow back down. I kept repeating my mantras, and that song by Rage Against the Machine came on, the one that has the line, "F---no I won't do what you tell me!" Yep, brain, I'm not stopping now. This is the song that got me past miles 23-25 at the marathon last year, and it got me through miles 6-8 on Sunday.

Still running...and happy to be on the loop where everyone walks and runs.
Fortitude is drawing strength from cheesy, motivating songs. Eminem came on after that RATM song. I won't collapse, Eminem. I promise.

from "Till I Collapse" by Eminem
Then my phone rang. Weird. I stopped and took my phone out of my spibelt. No one was calling me, it was my phone calling my husband. Seriously? Was it a sign? Should I let it ring, and have my husband pick me up? NO! Won't quit....

I cancelled the call. I resumed my run, but thought about this for a while. Why did my phone make a ghost call? Hmmm...

Fortitude is pushing on when even your phone wants you to quit.

I finished up that loop at the forest preserve and headed back through the neighborhood that would take me home. I started to get a side stitch on my left side. Of course I did. Why not? I don't usually get side stitches, but when I do, I can normally breathe through them. This one wouldn't go away. The pain was pretty sharp too, and it interfered with my breathing, so I had to stop and walk it off. This would be my pattern for the next 3 miles. Run, side stitch, walk. Repeat. This made me mad.

Fortitude is not quitting when a side stitch won't go away.

At this point my skirt was almost completely soaked to the hemline. I passed another runner a jogger who stared at my skirt and shook his head. I glared at him. I don't want your pity, dude! How about some support?

Fortitude is summoning up anger when another runner thinks you're an idiot.

As I ran, I worked on exhaling on the opposite side of that side stitch. I was starting to feel a little off, too. In my mental fog, I started to think that maybe this run wasn't a great idea. Maybe I am an idiot. And then the words of Becky floated in my head..."for every word of self doubt, you have to do 10 burpees". Well, there sure as hell weren't going to be any burpees at that point. I knew if I got down on the ground to do a burpee, I'd never get back up. I figured that running the rest of the way would be so much easier. So while I was walking, I turned my thoughts around. I kept reminding myself that I wasn't dehydrated, that I was drinking my Tailwind. That I can and I will. I thought about the what ifs...what if the Chicago Marathon is hot and humid like this? Would I quit then? What if this was one of my real training runs? Would I quit that? How will I be prepared for a hot race if I quit on a hot training run? How would I feel if I gave up? What would that do to my confidence?

Timing is everything, and as I worked all that out in my head, by mile 12, the side stitch went away. I was able to slowly run the last mile to the finish, which was my home. I was happy to finish running, not walking. Never do I want to walk across a finish line, even a virtual one. I spotted one of my neighbors walking her dog, and I worried that she would expect me to stop and talk before I hit 13.1.

Luckily, I hit 13.1 about 10 feet before I reached her. I stopped my Garmin and caught my breath. Victorious.

She took one look at my red, sweaty face; my dripping finisher skirt. "You're crazy", she said.

I grinned. I'm not crazy. I'm tough. Fortitude.

I am. Completely. Soaked.
The stats: 13.1 miles, 2:06:50m 9:41 minutes/mile. Not my fastest by any means, but for these conditions, finishing is winning. Not my slowest either. Had I not gotten that side stitch, I would have been on pace for a 2 hour half. And that's pretty respectable for these conditions, in my opinion.

Nope, not me. I'm not a quitter.

I can and I will.

Go hard or go home.

Badassery.

And now that unlucky 13th marathon is on the books.

Fortitude. Do you have it? Would you have run this one, in the conditions I faced? Would you have quit? What do you do to push yourself when the going gets tough?

I'm linking this post up with Deb Runs for her Wednesday Word. Fortitude. What a great word!

56 comments :

  1. I love that quote that you made at the start. Seriously. Spot on.

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    1. I couldn't have found anything better to describe this run!

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  2. Oh my, that was quite the race! Good for you for finishing. Finishing = winning indeed. I don't think I've ever quit a run . . . even when I probably should.

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  3. I know that weather well. Way to bust it out.

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    1. I knew you were out there too! There's strength in numbers...

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  4. You are crazy....crazy AWESOME!! Way to stick it out! :)

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    1. It was a killer! But I'm glad I finished...I can draw on that for my marathon!

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  5. Kudos to you for finishing! You definitely faced some tough conditions.

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    1. It was crazy, really! But I'm glad I didn't quit.

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  6. Love that: "I'm not crazy, I'm tough". Congratulations! And I love that Eminmen song!

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    1. Why do people who don't exercise think that those of us who do are "crazy"? Hmmm.

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  7. Great post Wendy! You are the definition of fortitude! Nice job on the 13er

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  8. Awesome job in the stinking humidity! Badassery at it's absolute finest!

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    1. Man it's been a tough summer so far! I hope this brings some awesome finish times in the fall....

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  9. I'm not a quitter either. I think I've mentioned it a half dozen times, my 2nd marathon was in this kind of weather. I pooped out at mile 11 and did what I could to finish. I was not letting it take me out! :)

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    1. That's what we do, right? This is my 3rd such half. I need to figure this humidity thing out.

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  10. I wish I could have gone to Colorado for my win!!! good for you for getting out there and getting it done!

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  11. So when I say F That!! I'm going to actually mean, FORTITUDE! :) love this!

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  12. love this. now i have eminem in my head. way to go. and boo to that judgy runner!!

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  13. The super high humidity without the terribly high temperature for your 13'er sounds very much like the weather for my ZOOMA Annapolis three weeks ago. We had some nasty hills on top of the humidity that I wasn't well enough prepared for. I kind of let my brain win on that one though, and took two walk breaks during the last mile. I never do that - I should have dug deeper, I guess! Congrats on sticking it out, and putting half number 13 in the books.

    Thanks for linking up!

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    1. You really couldn't have picked a better word this week! What a great way to do a recap.

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  14. Great post Wendy! And way to push through and get it done in that crazy humidity!

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  15. Love this!!! Way to push yourself!

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    1. I hope to draw on this experience in my marathon!

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  16. Awesome work, Wendy! You really pushed through a lot to finish! I don't know if I would have quit quit, but I probably would have finished the run on my treadmill at home if it would have been me. ;) Way to stick to it and earn that skirt!

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  17. Good job finishing! I had to choose the 10K option - our heat wave was just too much for me this early in the summer. I would have totally been happy to run in the rain! I haven't tried running in the finisher's skirt, but I've run lots and lots of rainy races in my happy girl skirts.

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    1. I should have chosen the 10k option! But I'm stubborn like that...

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  18. That's kinda creepy that your phone randomly called your husband in the middle of your run.

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    1. Oh, I agree! I took it as a sign, but I ignored it...

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  19. Great work, and I totally hear you on the soundtrack! Eminem is a go-to on my workout playlists. In triathlons, where it is against the rules to run with headphones, I have my own mental soundtrack. Congrats on sticking it out for this run!

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    1. This was all about mental toughness, which is a work in progress for me. I needed this one. It's all part of the plan...

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  20. Love everything about this post. Badassery is right. As for the sweaty skirt....uggh, I hate that. I am always so self conscious. I always end up with a circle around the vajayjay area that looks like I peed myself. It's so freaking embarrasing!! I'm determined to invent a product that helps with this!! Congrats on a tough race!

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    1. It was the strangest spot for a sweat stain, I'll give you that...I was glad when the sweat started to spread all around...

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  21. Wow, a lot went on during that run. I hope you are being safe when you run out there by yourself. -M

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    1. I always entertain myself on the run! I thought I was doing well, safety wise...

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  22. That is definitely fortitude! What a run! I think I found someone who talks to herself as much as I do! Some times you just need it! I feel your pain here, I am dripping wet after every run now and it just ain't pretty! Be safe out there!

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    1. The humidity is crazy this summer. Florida, here I come...

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  23. Awesome stick with it-ness Wendy! Crazy is a word I hear often from people at work ha!

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    1. I was talking about this run at work yesterday, and while people were laughing at the phone story and the Grizzly Adams story, they were also shaking their heads...

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  24. When the conditions are tough its so important to keep things in perspective. Only we can know if we truly pushed ourselves on that particular day! Sounds like you did an amazing job!

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    1. It's so good to know that I can push myself when I need to! This run was really important to me.

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  25. Way to push through when things got tough! :)

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    1. It's runs like this that will push me on my quest for Boston!

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  26. You certainly do have fortitude! I'm very impressed! Those are some tough conditions and you fought through! My last half marathon (Ottawa, back in May) was my 13th as well! But since I have a black cat and he crosses my path regularly, I don't really feel superstitious! Thanks for this amazing story!

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  27. What a race! Bravo for sticking through it with fortitude and a determined spirit.

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