Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Non-Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

This past weekend threw a (delightful) wrench into my usual training schedule - Marc's lovely cousin Dan married his lovely longtime love Amanda and we went up north to join in the festivities.  It was a great time, and I absolutely love Marc's family.  I even got to spend time with his Grandpa and with his brother and sister-in-law who are visiting from London for the occasion.

Normally I go for my long runs on Sundays, with shorter runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Between being sick last weekend and having to skip my scheduled 9 mile run, and this past weekend pushing my Sunday run to very early Monday morning, before my full day of teaching and working, I was a little worried about how that run (10 miles) would turn out.  It was my first long run since doing 8 over two weeks ago, I was running on a barely healed blister on my right instep, and most importantly, I would be running all 10 miles completely by myself.  No Marc, no Megan, no running buddy whatsoever.

"Gulp" was my major reaction when I thought about this run.

Although I was a little worried about how I would do physically, between the loss of training, the blister, and the decadent eating and drinking that always occurs when I'm with the LeVasseurs (and at a wedding no less!), I was much more concerned about how I would survive the alone part.  With no Marc to talk to to make the first 5 or 6 miles fly by, how would I possibly be mentally able to stay in it for the long haul?  Even for the race I'm not going to be alone - Megan and I are going to stick together as long as we can until our paces start to differ.

Despite my reservations, sleepiness, and the chill in the air, I got myself up, cued up my GPS, and went for it.  For part of it I listened to podcasts (the remainder of a Jillian Michaels Show and most of a Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me) but for a good two and a half miles in the middle there I went without anything but my little ol' brain.  I was continually surprised throughout the whole run - or really, once I woke up after mile 2 - at how easy it seemed.  Not that it wasn't challenging, because obviously I was running, but I'd think at any given time at how many I had run so far and how many I had to go and I always knew I could do it.  Given how doubtful I felt, and despite the violent reappearance of my blister at mile 5, it's amazing that once I was out there doing it, it seemed like no big deal.  After the halfway point, my trusty Nike GPS man said "4 miles to go" instead of "6 miles completed," and I immediately thought - "4 miles?  That's nothing!"

After the run, I still have a very long day ahead of me and I was quite worried that I'd burn out and just be completely physically exhausted and mentally fried by the end of the day, but I was truly in such a fantastic mood the whole rest of the day.  I had good food and some time to stretch and put my legs up the wall for 10 minutes or so, and I was good to go.

I'm still a little sore from it, and the short, easy runs since then have felt even harder than the 10 miler.  But I'm 10 days out from the race and very much looking forward to tapering down the mileage.  I'll be running 7 miles on Sunday, and then the following Sunday...the big 13.1.

Luckily I'm taking a yoga class later with my best friend to help heal from this crazy new mileage and to help reset my brain with the reminder that worry is truly futile.  I didn't feel lonely or scared on that run, and I know that I can do this race now with no problem.  It's pretty awesome.

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