So Sunday before last, I ran 15 miles. NBD. Ain’t no thing.
Other than the fact that it was TOTALLY the BIGGEST thing EVER and I am a goddess among women who can do things like wake up, have some coffee, drop the kids at the pool, and spend 3+ hours running in near freezing temperatures.
“Goddess” perfectly describes how I felt a couple of hours after I got home, had a shower, and sat on my behind for a few minutes while snacking on some peanut butter toast. It’s also how I felt until mile 12 of the run. It’s not, however, how I felt during the last three miles. By then, I just wanted to be done already because I was tired and bored and achy.
Still, I pushed on. No, those last miles wouldn’t set the world on fire speed-wise but I got through them with a gait that felt like a run (but may have looked like a walk to an outside observer.) As surprising as it may seem, running 15 miles wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d feared — and was about nine thousand times more empowering than I’d anticipated.
I remained empowered even after I got home and realized I had to climb some stairs to get to the shower — and that I’d have to gingerly scooch back down them if I wanted anything resembling food and NUUN. Given how iffy my belly can be after a long run, I wasn’t sure that I did need anything to eat. But I was certain about the NUUN.
Once I made it back down to my couch, I spent the rest of Sunday feeling exhausted and elated — and had to resist calling everyone I know and telling them what I’d just done. To the non-runners in my phone book: you’re welcome.
The physical recovery wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. Yeah, I was stiff and sore but it was manageble. What was more challenging was the mental recovery. I was on the verge of tears for the next 48 hours, which really isn’t my default state most of the time. I was extra snappish with my kids, too, who seemed to go out of their way to get on my last nerve. Ditto my husband. And don’t even get me started on my dog’s behavior. Fuzzy little fascist. By early Wednesday, my attitude could best be described as “toddler denied a cookie.”
I had an almost five-mile tempo-and-race-pace run on the schedule for Thursday morning. To give you an indication how it went, let me just copy my email to Coach later that day:
When my alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, I couldn't find a way to motivate myself out of bed to do today's pace-shifting run. Usually I can find some little kernel of motivation that gets me moving and, once I'm moving, I always appreciate that I've done it. This morning, there was nothing. I've reached the point in the winter where the idea of going out into a 16 degree morning and either running in it or brushing snow off of my car and driving somewhere to run inside just makes me want to sob. Even that I probably could have pushed through if I really put my mind to it but my mind doesn't want to play along. There's been work stress and teenager stress. Physically, my calves and butt just ache; not in an injury way but just in a fatigue way. This is my litany of reasons and I own my choice to say “f*** it."
What I did do was set my alarm so that I could get up in time to do 20+ minutes of squats, planks, crunches, and lunges. So there's that.
I should be in a much better headspace for Saturday's long run (and will really need it by then, I suspect). If it would be in my best interest to change that run to add more speedwork or distance, let me know. My attitude will improve by the weekend.
Coach’s response was a kind and gentle one — and ended with a suggestion that a few race pace miles during Saturday’s long run would be a good idea. Which is what I did to the best of my abilities, even though I couldn’t find a direction to run in that didn’t involve a headwind.
My keel has been more even since then. The taper for the Austin Half Marathon is in sight, as is the promise of a few days where the temps might not be quite so punishing. While there is some longish speed work on the plan for the next few days, I’m certain I’ll get through it with just a little bit of the extra grit I developed a few days ago.
Speaking of, shortly after I stretched out on my bedroom floor to stretch just a little bit after my super long run, I thought to myself that 15 miles is only 11 shy from a marathon. I laughed and laughed (on the inside, because I lacked to energy to do it on the outside) at the thought of going one more step beyond what I just did.
Then, this Thursday, I signed up for the New York City Marathon lottery. NBD. We’ll see what the fates decide.
Have you ever left a part of your running life up to the whims of chance? How did it work out for you?