Monday, April 16, 2012

The infamous wall

Do I complain when I have to run 7 or 8 or 9 miles? I think I have. If I do, someone please smack me.

I experienced "the wall" today. I realized that hitting the wall is kind of like having an orgasm (only not as fun)--if you have to wonder if it's happened, then it probably hasn't. I always thought I had experienced it (meaning the wall!) before. But today, I realized I was wrong. Today, I hit that wall, and now I KNOW what it feels like!

But let me start at the beginning. There was this:
Oh, and a 100% chance of rain at 9 a.m. Since we're pretty slow, this 18-miler would take us about 3 1/2 hours. We met at 8:00, and drove the school where we park. I had mapped out two 9-mile out-and-back routes, so that we could stop at the car at mile 9 and refill our water bottles. I packed 3 Gu's, and my bottle had Powerade in it to start.

The second we parked the car, it started to rain. Oh well, no biggie, we'll be wet with sweat anyway. So we started to run, and the rain wasn't hard at all--just a light sprinkle, and it actually felt really good. The temp was already at 60 degrees (which is HOT compared to what I'm used to, and the air felt very humid). I was dripping with sweat by mile 2.

Jessica and I were both worried about our knees. She brought her bike with her in case her knee gave her trouble, she could at least ride the bike and get some cardio in. I was pretty confident my knee would be okay after not having any pain during Saturday's race.

After about two miles, I was feeling really tired and sluggish. Which isn't good when you have 16 miles left ahead of you! I kept trying to think positive. At mile 5, we walked for about 30 seconds and I ate my chocolate Gu. I felt a little better after that. Jessica's knee started acting up at about mile 7 or so? She wanted to walk, so I suggested that we mimic the marathon conditions and walk every two miles as if we are walking through an aid station--just for 30 seconds or so.

So we did that at mile 8, and then we were back to the car at mile 9. Jessica wanted to keep running, instead of switching to the bike. We refilled our water bottles and headed out for the other 9 miles in the Metropark. We walked again at mile 10 for about 30 seconds, and I ate a peanut butter Gu. Then I just focused on getting to the 12-mile mark. I was feeling really run down today! I've done a 12-mile distance lots of times now, but it felt very hard today.

The wind was ridiculous. We were barely moving forward at some points--and of course it was a head wind. At the 12-mile mark, we walked and drank some water, then started running again. Somewhere around 13 miles is where I really wanted to be done. We ran onto a little dirt trail, which actually felt really good on my feet--it was about a mile and a half long. But I was miserable. The sun had come out and it was SO hot. I was also almost out of water.

I was really thirsty, but I was trying to ration what was left of my water. At mile 15, I ate my last Gu (peanut butter) and drank all but a few sips of water. Jessica and I weren't talking at all--we were both just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. When she started walking at 15.5, I said, "I can't walk--if I do, I won't start running again." So I kept running ahead.

source
At mile 16, I felt "the wall" like a ton of bricks just fell on me. It happened in an instant--I just could. not. move. I slowed to a walk and was barely able to put one foot in front of the other. At that moment, I thought, "I'm done. I'm not doing the marathon. I can't do this. Am I going to pass out? What if I die?" --all these thoughts running through my head.

Jessica was running again, and she ran past me. As she passed me, I told her that I'm done, I quit this stupid training. I'm a bit of a drama queen, I guess. When she got a ways ahead of me, I realized that if I fainted, she wouldn't have any idea what happened. That scared me into running again. So at 16.25 miles, I started running again. I noticed my heart rate was high--about 170. Normally on a long run, it's about 145. And I felt out of breath, which I normally don't feel when I'm running that slowly. It scared me! I drank the last of my water at mile 17. And I decided to walk a quarter-mile.

I felt like such a failure at that point. I have NEVER had to take walk breaks during any of my runs. Jessica and I ran from 17.25 to 17.75, and then decided to walk a tenth of a mile, before running to the car. I told her that I feel like I'm letting everyone down. She said she thinks it makes me MORE of an inspiration to people because what I'm going through is "relate-able". It makes me human. Which I guess makes sense. I'm not perfect with my diet, or my weight, so I shouldn't expect to be perfect with my running. All-in-all, I only walked about 1 mile total of our 18. In rain. And strong winds. And heat.

When we got to the car, I refilled my water bottle and drank that while walking around so my heart rate didn't drop too suddenly. Then I tried to stretch, but my legs were SO stiff. I just laid in the grass and caught my breath. That was a TOUGH run. Jessica and I tried to get pictures with the auto-timer. This is what we felt like:


Jessica joked that we should just do two more miles today so that we could skip the 20-miler :) If I had even an ounce of energy left, I would be all over that plan.

After I showered, I popped a couple of Motrin and iced my knee. My knee actually held up really well! It was sore at times, but maybe the walk breaks helped. I really hope that the worst of my knee issues are over. And my knee was actually the least of my problems on this run!

I learned that next time, we will have to do three out-and-back runs from the car so that we stop at the car twice to refill our water. I also think we should start walking every two miles for about 30 seconds to imitate the marathon conditions of aid stations every two miles (we agreed to walk through the aid stations at the race).

I was actually surprised to see that our pace wasn't ridiculously slower than normal. I was expecting about a 13+ minute per mile pace, but we actually averaged 11:36/mi, and that's with our walk breaks figured in.
You can see all our walk breaks on the graph:
Do you still consider it "running a marathon" if you take walk breaks through the aid stations? I used to have it in my head that I HAD to run the whole course. But I'm starting to change my mind about that. Those little walk breaks helped a lot!

We didn't go out to eat today, because we're both trying to get our weight back down to "pre-marathon training" weight. Today I was 139.5, which is 2.5 pounds above my maintenance range. But last week, I saw 147 on the scale!! It scared me straight for sure. I've been eating really well and being back in the 130's today was a relief. I would really like to be 135 before I go to Indy.

I did buy a treat to have today, however. I bought a pint of Moose Tracks frozen yogurt. The whole pint is 600 calories, which isn't bad. And you better believe I'm going to eat it all--and enjoy every well-earned bite. :)

54 comments:

  1. Have you ever run 18 miles before? I don't think you have. I think it's awesome that you didn't give up and persevered, and I think the walk breaks will do so much for your psyche, knowing that every 20 minutes or so you'll get some relief. But, I'm like you. I'm afraid if I start walking I won't start running again!

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    1. P.S. My grocery store had Blue Bunny on sale 2/$6. I had two $1 coupons, (go to thier website for coupons!),so I got 2/$4. One is Duff's Red Velvet! I wish my freezer wasn't as big as a shoebox so I could hide it!

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  2. It sounds like a tough run Katie! You are definitely not a failure, I think that if you take a few walk breaks during a marathon you're still running a marathon. & a marathon is bloody epic!

    Enjoy that frozen yoghurt - you earned it :)

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  3. Katie even though you're running circles around me and you've already conquered the weight and I've still got a long way to go, I find you completely relate-able!! So real and so inspiring. I appreciate knowing about the struggles as well as the successes. Thank you for sharing your journey!
    http://droppingtheplus.blogspot.com/

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  4. I ran my first marathon in October of this past year and know just how you're feeling about failure. If I walked 30 seconds in a run that was 3 hours long it was like I hadn't run at all. I'm my biggest fan and my worst enemy. You have to cut yourself some slack and think - how many people have made it to 18 miles in one run, sheesh yet alone a whole week! Some people I know can't run that in an entire month.

    The marathon is definitely a physical battle, but the mental one is the one that hurts the most. Just push past it, give yourself some more credit and imagine what it will feel like crossing that finish line!

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  5. I hate when that happens!!!! It's amazing to me that some runs can be so great...and others not so much. I felt the same thoughts of the marathon going through mt head during yesterday's craptastic half marathon. My IT blew out on me. I've been having trouble with it for several weeks now, and I have NO CLUE how I'll ever be able to do my scheduled 18 mile run in 2 weeks....much less 26.2 in June. Sigh. One day at a time, right?

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  6. Maybe you just need to change your thinking from "run a marathon" to "complete a marathon". Run, walk, crawl...any way you do it it's still a HUGE accomplishment!

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    1. What an excellent way to keep things in perspective! I will be using this as a way to keep myself motivated!

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  7. I consider it running a marathon if you have to walk through the water stations. If you run more then you walk you ran it!! You are amazing!!

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  8. I agree with Katie Kidwell - if you run more than walk, you absolutely "ran the marathon"! Thanks for keeping the blog real! Today's run was a big deal, and you did it!

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  9. Oh shit, Katie - that sounds like an incredibly challenging day! Good for hanging in there. Those big number runs are fricken HARD. 26.2 is 26.2 whether you run them, walk the, skip them or hop them. Walk breaks are good.

    Last year when I was training for my first (and so far only) marathon, I hit horrible walls at 16 and 18 mile long runs… I decided to incorporate walking a little bit at every mile for my 20 miles and it made a HUGE difference. Here's that post from last june in case you want to read about it. We went thru some of the same things: http://seejenroerun.blogspot.com/2011/05/twenty-miles-i-ran-twenty-miles.html

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  10. Yes, it is definitely running whether you walk half of it or ten feet of it. You go from point a to point b in X:XX amount of time. Run, walk or crawl, it all counts!

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  11. The running clinic I attend at the www.runningroom.com, they promote the 10:1 run/walk combination. Even many of the marathon runners follow the 10:1 combination. According to my clinic instructor, she has a faster race time when she does the 10:1 combination. That's how I'm learning to run right now. So no, I do not think taking walking breaks in between running intervals is a bad thing. Even the winners of the biggest marathons in the world do running intervals sometimes! You're awesome and I find your blog so inspirational:)

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  12. My 22 miler was like that yesterday. I was travelling on Saturday and think I was dehydrated for the run. I ran out of water at the end & the water fountain was busted so my husband had to bring me water. I don't think I could have driven home from where I parked the car if he hadn't! I ended up walking probably about a mile of the run, starting at around the 11 mile mark. I train on a trail for my long runs with lots of hills, so I'm hoping a road marathon will be easier.

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  13. I've totally been there, at mile 8 or an 11.5-mile race. I was hungry, dehydrated and had to pee. I learned a lot from that bonk, including pee before the race at all costs, gels are your friend and bring your own water when in doubt.

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  14. Great job today!!! The wall, oh the dreaded wall!! It is just something you will learn how to push through. I am sure you will figure out what will help you work through it.
    And yes walking through the water breaks is still considered running it.
    I would consider crawling at the end still running it! Enjoy your rest day!!

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  15. Sorry to hear you had such a hard time today! The weather definitely didn't help. I agree with your friend though- hearing about this particular run for you just shows me that not everyone can run perfectly all the time. I've been down in the dumps today because I've been working out constantly and counting my weight watchers points and only lost .02pounds this week. I just wanted to give up because I was so mad. But I still worked out today- just like you still continued and finished your run. I think you're amazing and an inspiration.
    Keep it up! You'll do great at your marathon, regardless if you walk through the aid stations. I'd still consider that running a marathon!

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  16. You are definitely NOT a failure! You're a total inspiration. Sometimes, runs just suck. Sometimes, you have to walk. And that's okay - I can't imagine a runner in the world who would argue with that! You'd better be damn proud of yourself, Katie -- I am! :)

    Amanda

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  17. You are definately NOT a failure! Some times you gotta walk. I can't believe you actually ran in that wind today! I'm in MI too and went out for my run and the jogging stroller blew away! I had to go chasing after it. Thankfully it didn't have my son in it! You rock!

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  18. That wind today was crazy nuts today. I seriously thought it was going to rip my siding off! So for you to run an 18 miler today....*applause inserted here* I ran I first ever 3 mile on saturday and walked a little each 1/2 mile.

    Even though you feel like it blew today, at the very least it was a learning session. It helped you prepare even better for the marathon if you had a bad run.

    http://rockorangefive.blogspot.com/2012/04/3-mile-run.html

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  19. So the good news is that you did not hit the wall on Marathon day. That would have been a big ol' bummer.

    Second bit of brighter side - that if old you would see newer you she would have thought it pretty funny that you were so hard on yourself for what she would think was a minor miracle.

    When I was young and trained very hard for swimming and diving, I would have these times where I was just over extended and my body would rebel. Like I was weak and being undermined. I think it is a signal to shore things up and pay closer attention to your body. It usually was preceded by a weird morale low. Maybe those two things are unrelated, but the point is, you regroup, renourish, and be honest with yourself about how you feel. If you are tired you are tired - you modify so you can live to run another day. Meaning Marathon day. Just my silly two cents.

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  20. a. ATTA GIRL!!!
    b. interval walking during a marathon DEFINITELY counts. Hello - it's 26 miles, and hours of exercise. it counts!!!
    c. Have you ever seen "Run Fatboy, Run"? I don't even remember if to was good or not, but I do remember a "wall" scene during a marathon. Your cartoon reminded me,,,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pttqFUviWs

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  21. I think it's so funny because we are on the same track for our marathon training schedules. :) I was under the impression that walking was failure too and then took some walk breaks during my 17 miler last week (after not walking any of the previous ones) and I was like, "oh, wow, guess what, I still did the miles, regardless of if I had to walk some of it". The people who don't consider it "running" a marathon if you take walk breaks are ridiculous and don't let them tell you otherwise. You are awesome for doing 18 in this today. I struggled with a 5k in this wind! You definitely deserve all of your treat.

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  22. Katie, you wished me luck on my 10 miles yesterday. I just want you to know that I felt your pain. I KILLED the 9 miles the week before, but I was so thirsty running yesterday, that I actually considered begging strangers for a drink. It was miserable and the hardest thing I've ever done. I'm like you; if I don't run the whole thing, I'm a huge failure. At least we're getting off the couch and trying :-D

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  23. hey you know the Boston was today, and LOTS of people walked through the aid stations and up heartbreak hill. I think that's probably something the majority of marathoners do.

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  24. Dude! All I can say is Jessica is so right! Here I am struggling to do a 5k distance in under 45 minutes and I think of you, pushing through the wall and finishing that 18 miles. It keeps me going and I am so thankful that you share you life with us, the good and the bad. I know I'm not a pro runner but my vote is that you are definately still running a marathon as long as you run the majority of the time. That's my 2 cents, so proud of you!!!

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  25. Man, that is a tough run! I'd love to run a marathon but I don't know if I have what it takes! Enjoy your ice cream! :D

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  26. Katie, you are amazing! (And Jessica is too!) I am amazed that you ran in weather like that! I would bet that even the most experience marathon runner would have a hard time in that kind of wind! I'm so impressed that you actually went out to give it a try, much less actually FINISHED it! You should be so proud of yourself!

    By the way, that last picture of the two of you is awesome. :)

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  27. You weren't a failure when you couldn't run a mile and you aren't a failure now.

    IMO, if you cross the finish line, you "ran" a marathon. :)

    My parents always taught me that if I did my best, it was enough.
    You did your best today. Be proud. Run on.

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  28. I am running my first 5K on Saturday and I am in awe of your 18 miles. I have been doing well but have been struggling the past few weeks. I've been coming up with lots of excuses but I keep telling my self that I have to do this for me and my girls (I'm hoping to lose weight before they realize they have a fat mommy.) Thank you so much for being an inspiration and reminding me, through your post, that even though I want to give up I have to keep going.

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  29. You are AMAZING!! Not a failure AT ALL!! Just imagine what you would tell any one of us who wrote to you about a bad run or work out and then tell it to yourself. You know you would still be cheering us on and congratulating us for the effort. You are anything but a failure Katie!

    And I think yes, you have still run a marathon even if you walk the aid stations.

    You are an INSPIRATION!!!

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  30. Hellz yeah; you're running it! You have many people that support you, Katie, and trust me *none* of us are reading your blog and thinking about anything but how AMAZING you are!

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  31. If you run at the gun and cross with a crawl, it doesn't matter. You've COMPLETED a marathon and that, my beautiful friend, is what matters!

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  32. You are an inspiration to me, whether you run, walk, or crawl. I'm 342 pounds right now, trying to get back down to my "happy" weight (160). I plan to start the C25K program as soon as I get to a comfortable weight where my knees don't hurt so much. I read your post about the Martian run, and it looked so awesome that I must, must, MUST participate in the 5K next year.

    So yeah... keep on truckin'. That wind was *horrible* today. I would compare it to running through sand or running with a 40-pound backpack. The humidity never helps either. The air is so thick it suffocates you. I don't blame you for hitting a wall.

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  33. I am a perfectionist at heart. I also felt that if I walked at all, I wasn't "running a 5K" or whatever race it was. SO NOT THE CASE! Even in my half marathon training, I do intervals of run 5 min, walk 1 min. For now that is working great for me. I always started my first few miles too fast and would poop out by about mile 3 or so. Now I can go a lot longer with those walk breaks. Focus on the fact that you completed 18 miles> EIGHTEEN FREAKING MILES! Yeah.. YOU did that!!! Hold your head up high and be proud of yourself because even though you wanted to give up, you didn't.

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  34. I can't believe you walked during your run. See if I ever read this blog again.


    ...just kidding. I consider "running" pace to be anything faster than a 12 minute mile, so even if I have little stops (waiting at a traffic light or tying my shoe or getting an energy gel out of my bag), as long as my overall pace averages out to something I'm ok with, then I call it a run. In this case, your pace was faster than I sometimes run without any stops - therefore it counts.

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  35. I've been a "lurker" on your blog [maybe I've commented one other time], but I have two things to say:

    1) Your pictures crack me up. That is SO me.
    2) Seeing everyone else encourage you that walking still counts helps remind me that walking counts. I've been using the C25K program to get into running [and I've fallen off the wagon big time -- need to work on that] and I feel that if I don't run/walk for the exact times it says in the exact order, that I didn't "complete" that day of training. I need to remember that it's okay if I have to walk a little more or repeat some days.

    Your blog has been a huge inspiration to me. I'm planning to run a 4-mile partner relay [we each run 2 miles] in July and I think I'm gonna attempt a 5K in September or October, when I know I'll be conditioned for it, rather than *barely* scraping by. I want to RUN the 5K.

    Have fun in Cleveland next month! I'm in Northeast Ohio, so if you'll be there longer than just for the race and want to kill time and see the city, let me know!

    http://hitherefacehere.blogspot.com

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  36. I'm not really qualified to comment on a run that long. But I have been researching if I want to run a half or not. Jeff Galloway promotes a run/walk training schedule and I believe he says to "run" the race that way. I have been like you since I started running - even a mile. If I walked any of it then it didn't count. I'm changing my perspective on that. A friend of mine got his marathon PR when he walked through all the water stations. From what I've read it doesn't have too much affect on your overall pace and apparently can actually improve it. I think you should do some research!

    WHEN did you hit 147? What that a normal morning weight? Or a middle of the day I just ate weight? Not that I'm happy for you, but I'm struggling to maintain my weight since I started running and I'm glad to see that your numbers can increase as well. I just need to figure out how to get it back down. I have a crazy sweet tooth. And I keep telling myself "Katie ate sweets while she was losing weight". LOL. Not sure that's a good thing to tell myself. I did buy You On A Diet. So maybe that will help me.

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  37. Oh and my friend that has ran marathons has told me "you move your body 26.2 miles in a certain time frame. Doesn't matter how you move it. The point is that you moved"

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  38. Been there. and your right if you have to wonder if you've hit the wall, then you probably haven't there is no feeling like not being able to even lift your foot.

    Way to go for pushing through! You'll do great at your marathon don't doubt your abilities!!!

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  39. I agree with the comment up above... if the "old you" saw the "new you" whining about having to walk periodically during an EIGHTEEN.... EIGHTEEN!!!!.... mile run, the "old you" would kick the "new you's" skinny little butt! And you know I'm right! :)

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  40. I agree with Mrs. Success Along the Way, even if you crawl the entire time, if you cross that finish line, you've finished a marathon! I was with you that whole run as I read your blog. Katie, you write so well, I could feel your pain and frustration and actually had a few drops of sweat run down my face--LOL!!

    You are absolutely never letting anybody down if you walk a few times. Don't even think like that--you inspire so many of us out here with your attitude, spirit and determination.

    LOVED this blog--like Jessica says, writing about the hard times makes us realize even more how difficult this running you do is, and makes you seem more human, and not so SUPER-human! We like THAT. Or at least I do!!

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  41. You could not be a failure because YOU STILL DID IT! You keep on keeping on and never give it up. The marathon will be an amazing moment for you.

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  42. I used to feel the same way about walk breaks, but after training for a completing a half marathon, my mind is completely changed. We trained walking every two miles for a water break and then as needed on the course, which was to be less than we had training. (I ended up walking a LOT of the half marathon, turns out I was 6 weeks pregnant at the time; no wonder I felt awful!)

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  43. Great job for pushing through!! I can't even imagine:) I've only done 2 1/2 marathon races & 2 10 mile runs (one race, one training) and I always walk some. I used the think the same way - I'm a failure if I walk. However, I have recently been researching training programs for a full marathon & Hal Higdon (an expert in my opinion) recommends walking through aid stations for ALL runners - even elite. The Boston winners even take walk breaks!
    My last 1/2 I was SOOOO happy the whole time - even when walking. I just felt great & I think it was because I treated my body nicely. I even PR'd by 11 minutes:)

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  44. I love your blog! I am getting back into running after having baby #5...and it is taking me a long time to get into it. So reading that you ran 18 miles is inspiring! Don't feel like a failure--you went out and did it and that's what matters!
    A couple of years ago I read a book by Jeff Galloway who is pretty much the guru of long distance running. He advocates plenty of walking breaks in long runs including in races. If you have never read any of his stuff I highly recommend it!
    Keep it up!

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  45. You are certainly not a failure! As for walking I read yesterday that the Boston Marathon was promoting walk breaks during their marathon. So don't beat yourself up

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  46. You are amazing! Just the fact that you made it through 18 miles is mind boggling, my furthest distance is 15.5 and I thought I would die. You better believe I'll be looking at your blog for inspiration when I start marathon training!

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  47. Oh girl-you are an inspiration! Remember when you couldn't run a mile? Where never active? You are awesome.

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  48. Way to push yourself!!! I hope you enjoyed your icecream to the last bite! You earned it :)

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  49. I'm just going to take a second to say "HOLY SHIT YOU WENT 18 MILES!!" That's insane girl, don't forget how incredible you are! You could never let anyone down, we love that you are human...except running that far isn't really that human..Katie are you a robot?!? :)

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  50. While I didn't train to walk the aid stations when I did a full marathon a number of years ago, I found that on race day there was really no way to run through them without completely skipping them. With 10,000 runners it was virtually impossible not to walk through them. Grab a drink/snack, consume, move on. There were even 2-3 aid stations where I had my little water bottles on my hydration belt refilled so that added to my time, too, but I sure didn't regret it.

    I had some pretty dreadful long runs while training. It's the nature of the beast. I trained through a Virginia summer and that took some careful planning. Long runs were done on Saturdays and started well before sun up so I could be done before the heat and humidity got too bad. My running during the week was done in the heat of the day, as I had no other option really. I did many shorter training runs at 4 p.m. on Virginia summer days. I remember days with heat indexes well over 100 degrees. When my brain would start to revolt, I would remind myself that my husband was in Iraq and it was way worse for him and I motored on.

    You can do it!!

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)