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.
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.|
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|
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.|
|from "Till I Collapse" by Eminem|
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
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.|
Nope, not me. I'm not a quitter.
I can and I will.
Go hard or go home.
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!