18 Miles!

Once, when I was about 13, I was watching morning television on a day off and looking for something to do.  I don’t know what possessed the idea, but somehow I decided I wanted to go for a run.  By the time Barbara Walters was telling me to “Take Time to Enjoy the View,” I had picked out my outfit and was ready to go. (According to my mom, there is a direct correlation between the desirability of a given sport and how cute the required clothes are.  Which is probably why I ended up playing Tennis in high school).  I stepped out the door and expected to feel fresh, effortless, and at peace, just like the girls in the Nike shoe ad.  And I did.  For about a minute and a half.  That’s when I came to my first realization about running: it was hard.  I huffed and puffed around my neighborhood for another few minutes and decided to call it a quits and re-fuel with Hagan-Daaz.

Last Friday, ten years later, I was back on those same streets where I had my first desire to run.  I was still wearing a cute outfit and it was still hard (some things never change) but I ran eighteen miles (I guess some things do).

Like I said, the run wasn’t easy and not just because it was my longest run to date.  I usually meet up with a running group and knock out almost 9 miles of my long runs on a really pretty route with plenty of company to keep me distracted.  By the time the loop is up, I only have to add on a few more miles until I reach my distance for the day.  Since I was doing this run at home, however, that meant I’d only have my thoughts to keep me company.  Not so bad at first, but it turns out I only have about 2 hours of quality sass stocked up before I need a recharge.

I knew that without external motivation or distractions, I’d have to work extra hard to keep mentally strong.  If I started counting down from 18 miles as soon as I started, I knew I’d never make it.  So I told myself I was running 6 miles, three times.  I couldn’t start thinking about the next segment until I was finished with the last.  Here’s how it went:

Miles 1-6: Feeling pretty good, trying not to think about the next six miles (or the ones after that), loving having Eminem, Rihanna, and Miley for company (or at least their best songs).  I’ve  been trying to get better about taking in fuel before I get too tired so I had a Gu after mile six.  Fact: Vanilla bean Gu tastes like cake icing and is one of my favorite parts about long runs. (Figures that my favorite part about running would be the part where you get to eat).

Miles 7-12: These were tough!  The low point was around mile 8 when I broke my rule and thought about the total miles I had left to go.  I felt ok physically but got freaked out that I was only half done.  And then I remembered I was running 18 miles and not 16 so I was not even half done.  Damn.  Plus I was already on round two of my playlist and “Party in the USA” was just not as fun the second time around.  Took another Gu at mile 12 in preparation of the 10k I still had left to go. 

Miles 11-18: Couldn’t believe I made it though the past six miles and that the end was finally in sight.  I swung by my house where I grabbed the bottle of coconut water I had stashed before my run (which is up there with Vanilla Bean Gu on my runner’s essentials list) for some much needed electrolytes.  I was definitely feeling fatigued but happy that I had no specific ankle/ foot/ knee pain (all problems I’ve dealt with on and off in the past).  I also sort of lost my ability to think so I just remember thinking that it might be nice to stop running pretty soon.  But I pushed though and before I knew it FINALLY my Garmin beeped and it told me I had just run 18 miles (as if my legs didn’t know that already). 

I came home and laid face down on the floor of the living room for about 5 minutes before going about my post-run ritual of stretching, showering, eating, and icing.  Gradually, I started feeling human again. 

So there we have it!  A new longest distance accomplished and one more training run complete!  If the weather cooperates, I’ll be doing two 20 mile runs (with a step back week in between) and then it’s taper time!  I can’t believe how fast training is going and that in a little over a month I’ll be at the starting line of my first marathon. 

Also, I would like to extend a personal “Thank You” and “I’m sorry” to my legs and feet for running 18 miles and then celebrating New Years Eve in killer heels hours later.  It may not have been the best planning on my part, but thanks for putting up with me!