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Dry Martini: Closer and closer and closer

The current state of my training for the NYC marathon:

I was heading out for a morning run and my teenager asked me how long it would be. “Eight miles,” I said. “Oh,” she said. “So not too far.”

This is where we are now. Eight miles is no big deal. Neither kids nor husband so much as blinked. Nor did I, really. Any run that is under two hours long is no big deal.

I can’t even wrap my head all the way around this and will, therefore, press on.

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I had to lay down for a minute after I saw this.

My official confirmation means that this particular excrement is about to hit the bladed, air-moving device. I’m freaking out a little, which I expected. But I’m also starting to feel like I’m ready to just do this already, which I didn’t expect. Some of that readiness is pure exhaustion, the same sort of feeling you have when you’re a billion weeks pregnant and welcome the tumult of labor because it will be a nice change. All of the running and planning and planning to run is making me weary. Mostly, though, I feel like this will be a very hard thing that I can totally do. Maybe not quickly, mind, and maybe not prettily. But I can do it.

I know. I’m shocked, too.

My 20 miler on Sunday helped move me from the “there’s no way I can do this” column into the “I think I can do this” one. Which isn’t to say that it was easy to cover 20 miles with nothing but my own feet, a few bottles of water and gu, a couple of tissues, and a baggie full of peanut butter pretzels. But I did it.

What helped, I think, was that I spent most of the previous day at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in nearby Rhinebeck. Yes, there are such things. Yes, they are more popular than you’d imagine. Upwards of 10,000 people go to the festival, to say nothing of all of the vendors and llamas and farmers. Saturday was a giddy blur, which gave me no time to dwell on how far I was planning to run the very next day.

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Some yarn porn, for those who indulge.

I woke up Sunday morning with a sore throat, a sniffle, and a stiff shoulder, which were all remnants of hanging out in barns for a day, then driving for a few hours through the Catskills. Still, the first ten miles of my run went surprisingly well. The hardest part was to not start too fast, which my tendency for any long run. I should have “you can’t bank time” tattoo’d somewhere on my body where I can see it. Yet some deep recess of my brain believes that you can bank time. It’s right next to my unfounded belief that freezing the leftovers from a dinner I didn’t like will somehow improve them. Pro tip: it doesn’t.

I did manage to run like a bat gently meandering out of hell for the first half of this run, though, so progress has been made. The next three miles were OK. Not great, mind, and I was starting to feel like I had sacks of flour tied around my ankles. I was maintaining forward progress but only just barely.

At mile 14, it got ugly. I was hungry, bored, sniffly, exhausted, and several more of the lesser known dwarves. I started to think about just how much longer I had to go and how I was really only just barely over the halfway point for a marathon. There was not a little bit of existential despair.

I broke open my baggie of pretzels — I decided to try a different mid-run snack that had more salt and protein than Rice Krispie Treats — and shoved them into my face while walking and feeling sorry for myself. I’d been listening to an audiobook for the first half because gentle voices in my ears help me keep my start slow but switched to music to see if it would help. Some combination of calories and tunes and a very small hallucination about singing with Chris Thile helped me get my feet moving again. The next three miles weren’t fast but I made it through.

At mile 17, I told myself that it would be totally cool if I just walked the last three because it’s all about time on your feet rather than speed, right? But after I walked for a quarter-mile or so and realized that it would take the better part of an hour to finish up at that pace, I just ran.  Slowly. Persistently. While clutching my baggie of snacks, not because I wanted to eat anything but because it was easier than wrestling it back into my pocket.

Then I was done and spent the bulk of the rest of the day on the couch while forcing my children to fetch things for me.

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We've reached the season where I run through fallen leaves. The crunch-crunch pleases me to no end.

Here’s what didn’t happen during the 20-miler: I never once thought about giving up and going home. And while at the end of those 4.5 hours of running I was pretty sure I didn’t have enough umph left to go another six, I am also pretty sure I can struggle through this last miles on November 6 if I start the race on fresh legs. That’s my theory, anyway.

To sum up: my biggest concerns now are the beginning and the end of running 26.2.

As for how I feel now, a few days after running that far, well, I’m grouchy and tired but not too sore or broken. My owie foot seems to have gotten over it and I suspect the solution was switching from my beloved Brooks Ghosts to some extra cushiony Saucony Guides. That’s my theory, anyway.

By the end of this Saturday’s long run — only 12! — I’ll be really tapering. Plan for crazies.

This week’s question: what has been your longest run ever? and what surprised you about going that far?

28 responses to “Dry Martini: Closer and closer and closer

  1. Well, according to my Garmin, last weekend’s 13.5 was my longest run ever – my watch differed from the race course by a good bit. I am excited for your run, I might even have to cyber-stalk you! I am almost almost almost ready to commit to signing up for the Portland Marathon next fall. You, my dear, make me feel like, just maybe I can.

  2. Great job and what a wonderful mindset you have. The longest I’ve run is 26.2 miles (the Philly marathon). When I got to mile 20 I remember thinking, “Only 6 more miles” and “I can do this” and as I neared the finish, “I would do this again”. So best of luck and have fun!

  3. 27. something miles was my farthest run (so far). I truly got lost at a marathon because of hey took down all the directional signs.
    I am running NYC too, at this point I can’t fathom it (even though it’s my 5th full)!
    We got this.

  4. Here’s the thing, when you are running a marathon, especially NY, the crowds are what keep you going. Aside from the very first 2 miles, because you are crossing over the bridge into Brooklyn, and you are so excited, you don’t even notice, there are people cheering you on and on and on the rest of the way. That’s what i think about when I am “out there” running my long runs by myself. So, when I hit a “wall” on my long runs, I picture the crowds cheering me on and it gives me the where with all to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. I have run NY twice and training for it again this year. I will be doing my 15 miler this weekend and tapering afterwards. One of the best things I remember was when I ran NY the first time (my first marathon) my friend said to me, “Enjoy the 1st Ave rush”. I wasn’t sure what he meant but when I got there, it was amazing! Wait until you see it for yourself!! You are sooo ready for this!! Good Luck!!

  5. Just finished my fourth full marathon in WI last weekend. The scenery, fellow runners, and volunteer and community support ( aka roadside fans) made for another enjoyable experience. Let them carry you along and encourage you when you need; encourage others as you move along through the course when they need a boost. You’ll have a blast and feel super accomplished at the end.

  6. 26.2! Wineglass marathon just a couple weeks ago was my first marathon. What surprised me was that i actually enjoyed it. I had fun and loved the experience. And it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

  7. Thank you for this! My longest so far has been 13.5 miles but I’ve got a 17 miler staring me in the face this Saturday and I’m FREAKING OUT. Must find some zen, some guts, and some peanut butter pretzels. I’m SURE I can do this. I think.

  8. I did my first 50K on 9/3/16. The biggest surprise to me was how much of a mental game running can be. If you know how far you are going and are mentally prepared for the challenge, you will accomplish your goal. I thought since the race was advertised as a 50K it would be 31 miles, but that wasn’t the case for this race, it was 33 miles!!! I was so ready to be done at mile 31, that those last 2 miles sucked, but I wouldn’t have quit for anything since I was so close accomplishing a goal I had worked so hard to achieve. Just keep imagining yourself crossing the finishing line in NYC and you will do it!!!! Good luck and remember to enjoy the race.

  9. I’ve been following your journey and am running nyc marathon as well. I have done all my long runs with a friend. It seems like you did this 20 miler on your own!! That is amazing and so much harder than running with others. You’re going to be totally fine on marathon day with all of nyc cheering you on!

  10. Love this post! I’m running NYC too! Longest training run for this marathon has been 20.5 miles. This is my 3rd marathon in 13 months and I am TIRED OF TRAINING!! Regardless I know this marathon is going to be amazing because we get to run all over my favorite city, we’ll be surrounded by runners, and there will be lots of fans. See you on Staten Island 😉

  11. Longest race was 40 miles. Longest training run was 22 miles on trails — it lasted 6.5 hrs. the key for me: slow. very very very slow.

  12. First off. You. Went. To. Rhinebeck???!!! Color me jealous and totally green. Wait. Talk about running. My longest run was 22 miles but I had a younger, enthusiastic companion (thank you BFF Monica!) so it wasn’t nearly as awful as I spent half the night before envisioning. You are solid for NYC. If nothing else the massive crowds and superb people-watching opportunities will carry you through. You’ve got this!

  13. My longest run was a trail race of 38K (~24-ish miles) and is was wonderful except that it got really hot toward the end becasue I am not really speedy and it took me a couple of hours longer than the super speedy finishers- who were done at 9-10 am when it was still cool and lovely (it starts at 6 am). Absolutely beautiful mountain run. Hope to do it again this summer- maybe a little faster than last time.

  14. Maybe you know this, but you don’t really have to get on that ferry at 7 am … I waited in the station for a long time – where it was warm and the bathrooms were real – then took the ferry over about an hour before. It’s perfectly legit. Good luck! It is a fabulous marathon.

  15. The longest training run was 20. The longest race was the same 26.2 in NYC that you are doing. I was surprised about how well I felt after the training run, but was also very worried about tacking another 6.2 onto the end of that come race day. I just broke it down on race day after the 20 mile mark. Every mile was a new distance PR as well as every minute.

  16. Longest run was my marathon. I couldn’t believe it. But I remember my 18 and 20 milers being surreal as well. I don’t know if I will ever run another, maybe when my kids are a bit bigger. I never say never now!

  17. I love the analogy about actually wanting to labor just for a change. That’s when you really know you are ready to run a marathon! Let’s just get on with things! My longest run was 26.2 in 2014. It was hard but I smiled at the finish 🙂 So excited for you!!

  18. I remember the first time I went 14 miles. I posted it on Facebook and asked people to cheer me on, etc. It was a big deal. Now I’m in the same place as you, it’s no big deal. Except it still is. Don’t diminish what you do day in and day out. Respect the distance. The furthest I’ve run is 31 miles and by this Spring I will have run further on my way to 50 miles. *gulp*

  19. My longest runs were two marathons about 20 years ago. I am doing another one on Nov 5th, so have been following your progress. I did my last 20 last weekend, w/ a hilly half in the middle. It is amazing how your perspective of distance changes. I ran 12 before work one day and didn’t really think much of it.

  20. My longest run was about 40 miles as I had run across the Grand Canyon and had to come back, so there was no choice and there were no surprises except for involuntary muscle twitching as I climbed out for the last few miles. It was weird.

  21. Love hearing about this journey! My longest run was 13.2 miles, in the last long-long run leading up to my half marathon. I figured I’d go that extra tenth of a mile just to tell myself on race day that I’d run longer distances than what I was about to do.

  22. Hi Adrienne, My longest run has been 13.1. I was most surprised how good I felt right after. Though completely exhausted, I felt as i wasn’t a complete mess. Two days later though, oy!

  23. Longest run was 13.1, when I actually ran a half marathon. What surprised me was that I did it… and didn’t die. No really, what surprised me was that I could do it. (during the training the longest I had done was 12). Good luck Adrienne, Lisa and all the BAMR’s at NYC!

  24. What a terrific post! Like you, I struggle with early speed and am trying to make 187 plans for how to not do that on November 6.

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