Dude, I ran 16 miles on Saturday to complete Week 9. I wish I had some higher level insights about myself to share, but I just don’t. It was long and, at times, difficult. It was a feat of strength. I did not hit a wall, but I was challenged, mostly emotionally, by the last 2-3 miles. The difficulty of those last few miles was topped off by the unfortunate experience of seeing the most horrific dead cat, in a full-on state of rigor mortis, mouth still open, right at Mile 14. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a stranger to roadkill on runs… I’ve seen raccoons, birds, and yes, cats, but usually it’s obvious why they are dead. This one was just frozen in mid-meow. It was awful! Darkly comical, however, was comparing notes with my running buddy, who is following the same schedule at 50% the distances in preparation for the half marathon. We went out last night and she was talking about her 8 mile run and I had to ask… “did you see the dead cat?” And the look of horror flooded her face, and I knew. She had seen it too. Frozen Mid Meow.
It was traumatizing… can you tell?
Anyway, let’s back up to before the dead cat. All in all, the challenge of 16 miles was mostly in the duration. Physically, I was a bit wiped after the experience, but I went about my business the rest of the day and even moved a bunch of furniture. No residual soreness or injuries, so that is good. I hydrated and fueled well, although I need to pay more attention to replenishing liquids the 24 hours following a long run. It was an out-and-back. I found myself excited during the first 8 miles, simply because I was covering a distance I had never done before… although all of the chapters of the run were familiar to me. I was able to run the majority of the miles on our interurban trail system, which really spared me the trauma of pounding concrete. I reached the 8 mile mark, in the thick of the woods, and then turned back around. The course had a lot of hills and, later, switchbacks, but I thought the elevation variety would be realistic practice for the marathon, which is a hilly course at times.
Around Mile 7/9
I did pretty well until mile 12, when I started to get bored. And I credit the boredom for slogging through the last few miles. Also? No fanfare at the end of this run. Just going through the front door and taking a cold shower.
Running solo for 3 hours is going to be boring. That’s what I learned from Saturday’s expedition. No amount of music or podcasts can keep you entertained. And even though Flow is wonderful and the simple exercise of running is wonderful, all of that peters out at a certain point. Similarly to driving a long distance, it gets old. I think this is a fact of life when training alone… and it’s the path I chose. Have you seen Spirit of the Marathon? You know the groups that run together religiously every weekend and chat through their long runs? I passed one of those organized efforts on Saturday. There are teams training together. From the outside, it looks rosy, particularly as I head into my third hour of This American Life (no offense, Ira, I still love you). And then there are people running alone. I am one of those loners. A solitary beast. At the end of the day, this first time I am undertaking the journey that is the marathon, I need to be inside of myself. The only drawback is that it would have been nice to crack a few jokes 13 miles in to keep the mood light.
I do not despair–not many long runs left. In fact, I have two consecutive weekends of travel that will keep me from being able to do the two 16-mile runs for Week 10 and Week 11, respectively. Initially I stressed about this, but revisiting my training schedule I realized I have three long runs left over after the traveling. So my game plan is to maintain my mid-week mileage and try to fit in some running on the traveling weekends, and then pick up the long run again at Week 12. I am trying easier. Long runs will be as follows:
Week 12: 16 miles
Week 13: 18 miles
Week 14: 18 miles
Here is my plan for Week 10:
Monday: 5 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Let’s see… what else? I hope to be back tomorrow or Wednesday to chat about Week 10. I know last week had few entries–I kind of needed to see that I could run 16 miles before writing about it. Does that make sense? I just wanted to act first, process later.
I am so excited, I finally got a pedicure last night and, most importantly, I have all 10 toenails!