Longest Run of My Life in the Books

I realize I’m going to be saying this pretty every weekend until the end of March, but I ran the longest/farthest run of my life on Saturday! I didn’t mean to. I meant to run 12 miles. But when I got there, my pace buddies were both talking to Coach Jack about some lower body pain, and he recommended they do run/walk intervals. They were going to run for either 3 or 4 minutes, then walk for 1. I was feeling good (or so I thought) so I wished them well and reluctantly headed out alone. Well, with about 100 other runners but “alone” in the sense that I wasn’t really chatting with anyone.

Within the first 2 miles, I wondered if I was going to be able to complete all 12. I didn’t foam roll at ALL last week. I ran a lot more than I ever have and I prioritized work and sleep and socializing over rolling and stretching. Bad idea. I also didn’t wear shin sleeves because it was a balmy 40 degrees and I didn’t want the added layer under my running tights. Also a bad idea. My legs felt rock hard, like they were stuck in concrete.

Fortunately, by Mile 3.5 when we got to the first water stop, I was feeling better. I thought, OK I’ll run to the next water stop and turn around. Except the next water stop was at Mile 6.5, not Mile 6! That meant I’d be running 13 total miles unless I walked at the end. But I was still feeling really good, minus my tight legs, so I decided to run until I couldn’t anymore. Back at water stop #1, the volunteers told us we only have 3.5 miles to go. Woohoo! I left the water stop with another girl but ended up pulling ahead. Around Mile 11, a guy passed me. Pretty soon I couldn’t see him anymore. Our route was windy (curvy windy, not blustery windy), through a beautiful set of nature preserves. I realized around Mile 11.5 that I couldn’t see anyone up ahead or behind me. I knew there were plenty of people ahead and still a lot of people behind, but there wasn’t a very long stretch of straight road in either direction, so I felt totally “alone.” No big deal. It was beautiful and peaceful.

Except I came to a fork in the road, and panicked. I was feeling like crap when I ran out, so I wasn’t paying attention. Now I had no idea which way we had come from. I paused my watch, took out my phone (I was going to leave it in my car until my pace buddies told me they’d be run/walking – thank GOD I grabbed it out of my trunk) and found where I was on the map. I could see the gym where we started/finished was close by and I only needed to follow this one road before making a sharp left. So I followed the road. I ran for about 2 minutes and kept turning around because I knew there were others not too far behind me, but I NEVER saw them. What I did see was a busy road up ahead that I was 100% certain we did not run on the way out, so I stopped (forgetting to pause my watch) and took out my phone again. I was tired and exhausted and I guess confused, because it took me a while to realize I was going the wrong way (Google Maps actually really sucks for walking directions – it has always confused me, especially in the city). I almost cried because I wasn’t sure and cars were whizzing by me. Sure enough, I started running in the opposite direction and saw people up ahead going straight where I turned left. I eventually caught up to 2 girls and I could tell they were thinking, “What the heck?” so I said, “Don’t go that way!” and they just kind of looked at me strange with a half-hearted “Oh no…” They were deep in their own conversation and I was overly emotional from almost getting lost, so it’s possible I was reading way too much into their non-reaction.

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See that little arm out to the right side between Wolbach Farm and Cow Common? That was my fun little detour.

But as quickly as my mood soured from getting lost, it turned to excitement when I realized there was still a mile left to go and I had already run more than 12 miles. As long as I ran more than 13.1, this was going to be the longest run of my life! By now I was running with a lot more people and most of them stopped when we got to the gym’s parking lot but I was determined to keep going as far as I could and good thing I did because apparently when I ran the BAA Half, I ran 13.37 miles (according to my old GPS watch).

But on Saturday, I ran 13.45 miles! I also beat my half marathon time by a whopping 7 minutes and 25 seconds, and I wasn’t paying any attention to my pace and was trying to take it slow. Just goes to show the difference dedication makes in your training – I trained for the half but took a month off in the summer because it was too damn hot, and even after that hiatus there were still a few weeks where my only run was on Saturdays. Now, I run at least three days a week if not four. I’m slowly getting less slow just by running more!

My legs still felt like concrete so I stretched for much longer than I do after most group runs before driving home. I took a long, hot bath followed by a long, hot shower. I foam rolled and ate my greasy cheeseburger and drank 2 beers and was a complete vegetable in the afternoon until my co-worker visiting from out of town asked if I wanted to go across the street to La Catrina for dinner. I really didn’t, but I wanted to see her and I knew the margaritas would be worth it. For some reason, I couldn’t fall asleep that night and didn’t sleep well once I finally did. It’s like my body can’t fully relax after long runs.

On Sunday I foam rolled again (new rule – EVERY DAY DURING MARATHON TRAINING) and did a yoga for runners video in my apartment. I am still sore as of writing this on Monday night, despite having foam rolled and muscle sticked after dinner. I know I made the right call to take off today from running. And then because of some unfortunate weather combined with the roof next door falling apart, I didn’t sleep well at all last night and likely won’t again tonight either, so I took some Benadryl and will attempt to run after work tomorrow, instead of before.

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