I knew for a while that I was going to have to do this run by myself. Matthew and I planned our anniversary trip and of course after realizing the weekend our anniversary was on, I immediately went to my run calendar. I PRAYED for a drop week, I hoped that it would luckily fall on a day where I only had to do 12 or so. Nope. As luck would have it, I had my long run. 16-18 miles in all its glory.
Let me just go ahead and say once you enter into marathon training, you lose a lot of your running buddies. It's not too hard to get someone to run 3 miles or even 8 miles, but once you start hitting the double digits, your pickings are slim.
I was able to get my friend (who I was half marathon training with prior to committing to marathon training) to commit to run the last 8-10 miles with me. YAY! I knew those would be the hardest miles so I just wanted someone to finish with and to push me. A week or so before my run she started having problems with her heart racing during her runs so she decided to not run that day.
So for about a week I was able to mentally prepare myself for the longest run of my life, by myself. I've never run more than 8 miles (I think) by myself. I've run parts of my long runs alone but never the WHOLE thing. Now I'm about to go and double that.
But anyways, the next thing I had to do was figure out my route. I'm not one who just likes to run aimlessly, I need a plan (which is weird because I'm not a planner AT ALL). Figuring out where to run 16 miles is sort of a thinker, because I had to plan water stops and I didn't want to run in circles for 2.5 hours. Also, I didn't want to run on main roads because it would be during rush hour on Friday. I decided to run through River Park in Brentwood because it's shaded and I just love the route.
I start my little run and I am feeling pretty good! It's totally mental because of course, the first mile went by so slow and I am thinking, I still have 15 of these?! It's all mental ya'll. I knew the mental part of this was going to be the part that got me. So I'm running and I hit mile 2.5 which is my first (& only) water stop. I decided to call Matthew and see how many miles it was from River Park back to our HOUSE. Ya'll...Matthew should have said NO, do not do it. But he didn't know and I thought this was the best idea I'd ever have.
11.6ish miles from River Park (Split Log Road) to my house. By the time I got to Split Log Road, I would have run 4! IT WAS PERFECT! This made me so excited and I started trucking through.
I'm going to break down the reasons why this was a bad idea.
1. I really didn't know where I was going or what was on any of these roads
2. My original plan was do to River Park to Split Log Road two times which = 8 miles. Built into that was shade and 4 water stops. No water stops on my new route.
3. I would land on Nolensville Road in Nolensville at mile 10 and would have to run my hardest miles in the pure sunshine, at 10:00a.m where it probably hit 95 degrees, and cars everywhere.
So I'm running along and enjoying my music and by about mile 8, I start getting fatigued, which I assumed would happen. I planned on miles 1, 8-10, and 14-16 to be my hardest miles. I realize I can't take my GU because I don't have any water ( I really need to get a water belt but I really don't want to). I call Matthew and ask him if there is any way he can bring me some water and of course, he does :) At mile 9 I take my GU and drink some water and start feeling pretty good. At mile 11 I hit Nolensville road and I'll just be completely honest, it all was downhill (not literally unfortunately) from there.
I think I mentally started breaking down because I realized how long I had to be on the road. 6 miles isn't usually a long time but when you've already been running for about two hours, running for another hour seems like forever. But I kept going. I let my mind wander into thinking how if I stayed in River Park, I would be in the shade and almost hitting another water stop. I started thinking about how tired I felt and how sore my legs were getting. The perks of running with people is I don't notice my physical pain or fatigue as much and I'm preoccupied with conversation. But this run was good for me because I was entering new territory.
By about mile 13, I think is where "the wall" entered my life, with full force. I never would have imagined that you could hit it at 13 but I did. I stopped into a Walgreens to get water and at this point, my goal pace was completely out the window. I felt like all I wanted to do was lay down and forget about the marathon. It hurt to run, it hurt to walk. I knew I was getting close but I couldn't get into a groove. The moment I would start running for about a minute, I felt defeated and I would walk. The last 3 miles were pretty much walking. I have never felt so tired and walking was even painful. My legs felt like a ton of bricks and all I wanted to do was lay down. BUT, I kept going. And I finished, although it wasn't pretty, I finished.
I was actually pretty impressed with the final average pace. For walking the last three/four miles it didn't make it as terrible as I thought it would be. I didn't even want to share my pace or the details of this run but I think in the end, it will make me a better runner. I also think everyone should know that every run can be different. No matter what kind of shape you're in, running will in some way challenge you. I'll have tough runs that are mentally defeating and other days I'll run like it's nothing, but I think that's why running is good for me.
Nothing good comes easy and you have to work to be better. Soak in the moments where life/running is easy but use the tough days as teachable moments. I don't take my legs for granted and I definitely don't want to take my health for granted. I am grateful for each step I can take and I have to remember WHY I'm doing this. It's not for ME but for someone else who maybe can't run or who is laying down somewhere wishing they could run in the sunshine-y weather. Do more than you think you can do, because you CAN do it.
If you want to see what my route was, here it is:
Now...to showcase mine and Matthew's weekend in Charleston!