Over the past 2 months, I have paced at the Rocket City Marathon, run three 50k's (Recovery from the Holidays, Mountain Mist & Black Warrior) and ran the 11 mile option at Tick Ridge 25k (aka cut the course by mistake). All this sounds impressive, but the reality is I did not put in the work needed to get the performances I wanted. Instead I faked it, my fitness level gets me through about 23 miles then I just do what I can to finish. It's somewhat discouraging because I know what I am capable of, but pushing through those last several miles teaches you about yourself.
In those last several miles you begin to talk to yourself, sometimes even outloud. Telling yourself "you can do this", "get your breathing under control, relax", "hold it together, it's not that far." Breaking the sections down to mini segments, "20 steps walking then I will run", "I can run to that shadow, hill, mud hole, etc." Then the other thoughts come into your head as well, "my foot sure does hurt", "I just let 3 people pass me", or "there is no one in sight it's ok to walk a little longer." The thoughts you want to ignore are "what the ____ am I doing", "I just need make it to the next aid station then I can get a ride"
Part of my problem this season has been the fact I have Morton's Neuroma on my left foot. It's a problem I have been dealing with for two years. I was hoping that the cortisone shot I got before the marathon would hold me through the season, but it did not seem to help much this time. I have an upcoming appointment to discuss surgery to relieve the problem. This is just one excuse and most of you know the saying, any excuse will do.
Even though I titled this faking it, I do have to say I have had some really amazing finishes this year. Not my best times but some great experiences. At the marathon, pacing with Alex Clark and Christy Scott we got to watch a hand full of people just run away from us and beat their goal time. At Recovery, my son, Christian ran the last 9 miles with me and Michelle joined us for the last mile. Mountain Mist was my 10th finish and at Black Warrior, I got to see my friend Alyson Chicosky finish her first 50k then hug her husband Jason as she cried. Oh and I can't leave out my finish at Tick Ridge coming in with Alex in first place on the 25k only to receive my first disqualification for taking a wrong turn. By the time we realized we took a wrong turn it was too late to figure out how to fix it, so instead we came in to win the unofficial 11 mile.
The reality is I love running, especially trail running and I rather fake it, than put in the mileage which would just damage my foot worse. You just have to adjust your expectations if you are going to fake it. You also have to have a positive attitude and see all the amazing things that happen around you.