It’s that epic Sunday run. Everybody gets one. The one you remember, the one you want to tell everybody about on Monday morning, but you don’t think they’d really care, so you refrain. The one that makes you (and your co-workers) so grateful that you get to be a Salty blogger, because that way you can tell everyone, but they don’t have to listen.
Recently, I had an epic Sunday run. It started Saturday night, with a forecast of low humidity and low temperatures for Sunday morning. It had been raining for days, and I didn’t run Thursday. I didn’t run Friday – rain. I didn’t run Saturday – just didn’t make the time for it and before I knew it the day was gone. I was jonesing to put foot to pavement. And that made the anticipation even sweeter. I had a 10-miler on the books for Sunday morning, and I had decided to deviate from my training program, which called for a particular pace, even on LSD runs, and finally take Jenny Hadfield’s advice and let the pace be the outcome of the run. It seemed to work for Ginger! I had nowhere to be early Sunday morning, why not?
Shoes with the insoles, because I like more cushion than my Minimus shoes offer on runs over seven miles…check.
Bright green/yellow dri fit t-shirt…check.
Water bottle for the road…check.
Gatorade bottle at the end of the driveway to pick up on the second loop, if I want it…check.
Heck, even a banana at the end of the driveway if I want it on the second loop, because why not spoil myself a little?…check.
Kaopectate to dose with pre-run…
Kaopectate to dose with pre-run…
I lost the bottle. The entire success of my run the next morning suddenly hinged on this piece of my routine, the piece of my routine that would surely leave me cramped and unable to leave the house for hours after my run if I skipped it.
Wait, I found One. Single. Tablet. in my fuel belt, which was getting left behind, after myself and I had The Fuel Belt Talk. I breathed a sigh of relief and set the tablet on the counter next to the coffee pot so that I would remember it the next morning.
I mentioned to my husband that I was really excited about the next morning’s run. He said, “oh, I thought you were excited because it was the first morning this week we could sleep in together and you were going to hang out with me.” It was then that I had to explain to him that central Texas offered one morning per year of ideal running weather, and that it was going to be tomorrow. His response, which cracked me up, was simply (and affectionately), “you’re an idiot.” He declared that since the weather changed both in the fall and in the spring, certainly there were at least two mornings per year of ideal running weather.
Cue Sunday’s alarm clock. 6:30 AM, a perfectly reasonable time. Still dark out. I hit snooze and snuggled back down into the covers, the room was cold because we had left the windows open. 6:40. Do I see a little light in the sky? Yes, time to roll out of bed and put my shoes on. And have a cup of coffee, and pet the cat, and take my Kaopectate. I picked up my watch, and remembered that I didn’t want to be beholden to a pace, so I set it down. Then I picked it back up and put it on, deciding that I would need to keep track of the time so my better half didn’t worry. I took it back off, put it away, and closed the drawer it was in. I would have my phone strapped to my arm, and it was harder to get to look at pace. I didn’t want to know, anyway. I did, however, remember my Road ID.
I was about ready to go at 7:30, it was nice and light out, and I left a note saying I would be back by 9:30. It was only ten miles, but I like to give myself a cushion in case I decide to walk home, or whatever. So I gave myself two hours for a run that should take somewhere around an hour and 45 minutes (at my relaxed pace).
The weather was perfect. The sky was lightening, the deer were out, the morning was crisp, and it felt so good to be on the road. I was rocking a new Pandora station that started with Kanye West’s “Stronger” and only got better from there. At mile 3 I decided that Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” had a great beat for running. At mile 5, I decided that I might want to go more than ten miles. I checked my enthusiasm though, because I was only halfway through the run.
At mile 7 I passed my house and made a quick pit stop, and ate half my banana. I switched the nearly empty bottle of water for the bottle of gatorade. I didn’t stop for more than five minutes.
At mile 9, I was feeling a little bit sad that the run was almost over. I decided I at least start the loop again, instead of going straight home. If I did the whole route twice it would be 14 miles. Maybe I could even do 15.
I had never run farther than a half marathon. Like, not ever.
I checked myself, and I had to remind me that a lot could happen over the course of six miles, and I just better watch it and not get too big for my britches. I hadn’t had the best training week, after all, and I didn’t want to get all pissy with myself if I said I was going to run this new-fun-amazing-unheard of distance, and then failed. My planned run was only 10 miles. That’s all I had to do. Just one more mile.
I spent that last mile justifying to myself why it was okay to shoot for more mileage, and why it was okay if I stopped, and convincing myself not to get too tied to any one mileage goal. That if I met ten, that was enough and any more was just bonus. Then I spent some time reminding myself about some advice I gave my friend Red (Red will show up in my posts from time to time – she’s my running confidant). Red and I were talking about why some runs just suck and other runs feel really good. She’s been frustrated, trying to get back to running after having a baby. I told her that when the runs felt bad, to forgive herself, and when they felt good, to get as much out of it as she could, because that would give her the biggest fitness gains.
Time to take my own advice. It felt good, so I kept going. I have no idea what happened between miles 10 and 13. I must have been in some sort of euphoric running trance, because I have no memory of doing those miles. All I remember is that I got a phone call from my husband, who was worried because it was past 9:30 and I was not home, and was I ok? I was. It felt good, and I wanted more!
RunKeeper told me I hit mile 13. Only a tenth of a mile more and I would have run as much as the longest runs I have ever done. But I still felt good! The sun was shining, the temperature was rising, but not ridiculously, and I was on my way to having run the longest distance I had ever run in my life.
Mile 14. I DID IT! I broke through my mileage plateau! I passed my house after another quarter mile, and grinned stupidly as I passed my driveway and decided to finish up the last three-quarter miles. It was about that time I realized I couldn’t feel my feet.
At mile 14 and a half, my mind was still strong and wanted more, but my knees were hurting. My feet came back to me, but they didn’t want any more. The bottoms of my feet felt more bruised with each step. I don’t typically hear from those body parts during a run. We had an interesting conversation, but at the end I put my foot down (ha!) and told my damn knees and my damn feet that we only had a half a mile to go, and that we were going to do it whether they wanted to or not. At mile 14 and three quarters, they acquiesced.
Runkeeper: 15 miles.
I walked home. Slowly. I walked up my driveway, smiling as big as I could smile. I went inside, made a cup of coffee, took a bath, and had a great rest of the day. No residual soreness. A bit of hunger, and a bit of fatigue, but nothing more than if I had gone six or eight miles. It took me two hours and thirty-four minutes. The pace was something like ten minute ten second miles … which, for me, is pretty darned good! I had let the pace be the outcome of the run, and the run had been, in a word, epic.
So, tell us about the first time you hit a huge distance milestone or another epic running achievement. Everybody gets one and we’d love to hear about yours!