I last left you off after feasting disgustingly on cheese off of pizza, some queso dip, and fajitas (minus the tortilla wraps) with lots of grated cheese on top the night before my 18-mile run. I was nervous and a little uneasy about my decision making that night but decided to do the best I could.
I woke up at about 6:00 a.m. on Saturday morning wanting to get my run until my belt early for a number of reasons… one of which was that my mom was going to be coming out to visit for the weekend and I had things to do that day. But also, because I was feeling nervous about it and just wanted to get it over with; because I thought that running early in the morning would somehow be good for my body since I do most of my runs early in the mornings nowadays; and finally, because I figured there would be less cars on the road and some of the route I had planned was on bigger traffic-filled roads and with the current sidewalk conditions I figured I’d be popping back and forth onto the curb.
I left at about 6:40 a.m. and planned out a course that mentally broke the run into 3 different segments for myself. The first was a 9-mile route that I had run when I did my very first outdoor run while training for my first half marathon last year. It was also the coldest and furthest run I’d ever done at that point in time so it stands out strongly in my mind. I remembered exactly where I had to walk during that run, where the hills got the best of me, and how good I still felt at the end of it. Even though a portion of that route I run pretty regularly, I hadn’t done the exact 9-mile trek since last year and I wanted to take another go at it.
Following that I planned to do a 3-ish mile loop that I have done so often before that I've begun to dread it. There is a portion of the run that is about 1.75 miles in that I just hate but I also know that once I get past it, I have a great feeling of accomplishment that I thought would feel good to run and run through during the 18-miler. The last leg I planned to be whatever was left and go out in a direction where I've done a couple 5-mile runs. It is “fresher” territory for me that I don’t usually run too often for whatever reason and I thought the change of scenery would be good for the end of my run.
So I had it mapped out mentally pretty well and just decided to give it my best shot and not think about it too much. Once I got going, I felt really good. The sun was just rising and it was really pretty, and although it was cold (in the single digits) the wind was low and not a problem. I tried to avoid mistakes I made in the 16-mile run and be sure to stand up tall through the run and keep my pace up through the hills as best as possible.
I didn't look at my watch too much but I also knew the route pretty well and knew where the mile points where so I didn't really have a need to look at my Garmin. I also made a specific playlist for this run. In the past this was something I always did and if you look through my iTunes list of playlists you see many, many run playlists titled “Friehofers 2011” “Friehofers 2013” “ARE 5-Miler” and “Firecracker 4” amongst many others. In creating the playlist for this race I picked some current favorite songs with good beats, some from past runs, and some from the playlist I had called “Ultimate Running” which I had made when I FIRST started running doing the Couch to 5K program. Some of those songs really kept me going through my initial running days but they have since been swapped out of my running playlist rotations. It was exciting and nostalgic to pull some of them out and listen to them on this run, thinking back to the motivation they game me when the goal was to run 5 minutes without stopping and the 10 minutes without stopping. I remembered the ecstasy I felt when I ran 20 minutes without stopping for the first time and how I treated myself to a pedicure afterwards as a reward. After running for 30 minutes without stopping, I bought myself a new purse.
So my playlist really motivated me, as did running by the mark that I walked at (around 3 miles) when I did this 9-mile route the last time. When I got to about 4 miles in to my 18 mile run, the current radio beat “Turn Down For What” came on and it got me so amped up. I have no idea what the song was is actually about but at the time I was interpreting it as, “Turn down, for what?” or “Why would I stop?”
I started to think about the run I was on and how I had been feeling nervous about completing it. But I figured, “Turn down, for what?” and started mentally going through the list of all the reasons why I would “turn down” or “stop running” and then all the counter arguments to that.
Turn down because my legs are tired? I’ve learned from doing the 15 and 16 mile runs that my legs will feel better in a day. I’ve been training for this point and even if they are tired, I will be fine later.
Turn down because I’m too cold? I know that if I just kept moving I wouldn't get too cold, and if I did feel really cold, I could fight through it. It wasn’t going to do any permanent damage to be cold for a couple hours and I could spend the rest of the day/weekend as warm and cozy as I wanted.
Turn down because the wind is blowing in my face and it hurts? I’d felt worse winds and again, I couldn't do any real damage in the 2-hours I had left to run and I would be okay. I think this is the first time during the run that I said to myself, “Pain is temporary. The feeling/glory of finishing this run will be forever.”
Turn down because I slipped on ice and twisted my ankle? Just be careful and that will not happen.
Turn down because I run out of water? Just stay hydrated, stop at home to refresh my water bottles as many times as I need, and just abandon the route and run circles around my block to refresh water every mile if needed.
I continued to do this for the entirety of the 3:33 minute song and by the end of it, I knew that I was going to finish this run. Although at that point I was only ¼ of a mile in to an 18-mile run, I knew I was going to complete it. It isn’t until I am about 75% into a run that I had been nervous about that I get that euphoric “Holy crap, I am actually going to finish this!” feeling. When I did the 16-mile run, it wasn’t until like 15.75 miles that I actually felt confident that I could finish the distance I was setting out for. However, on the 18-mile, I had a burst of adrenaline and euphoria that happened very early into the run and stayed with me throughout the entire thing.
After that I got into a groove and felt like a robot and just kept going. I went a little further out than 4.5 miles before turning back because it was a really pretty spot I was running in and I just felt good. The 3 smaller runs I had planned for myself all ended around my apartment because I had planned to swap waters there. I ended up back at my apartment at ~10.3 miles and I opened the door long enough to drop the one empty water bottle I had and pick up a new one.
I went out for my loop that is a little longer than 3 miles and had a fun surprise right when I hit mile 12 I saw Jess and her family on the side of the road cheering for me! I had told her my route and she had a Doctor’s appointment in the area where I was running so her and her husband and 2 kids found me along the way and cheered me on! It was a great surprise and I was a little flabbergasted and didn’t know what to do. I wanted to stop and hang out but knew I had to keep going. Jess asked how far I’d gone and I looked at my watch and was exactly at 12 miles. I also shouted out, “I feel great!” because I did! She cheered for me to keep going and keep going I did!
I noted my half marathon time, which was 2:14:16, a time I felt really good about and was really impressed with the pace I was maintaining. I tried to make it a goal to just keep going with that pace for the rest of the run. I finished that mini run and got back to my apartment at ~14.1 miles. I again dumped the water bottle I had and filled up the original one and headed back out, barely wasting any time inside. I went out on the last portion of the run going out and finishing up the 4 miles for an 18 mile run! It was amazing!! I felt SO great throughout the whole thing. Totally incredible.
I felt almost dumbfounded afterwards. Did I seriously just do that? Did I run 18 miles feeling so good? Did I mess something up and actually just run a 5 mile run? It was definitely a blissful runner’s high that I was soaring on, feeling full of happiness and joy and excitement that made me get hooked on running in the first place!
After the run, I felt like I should want to lay down and never get up again, but I felt fine… I showered, had something to eat, ran out to do an errand before my mom arrived, and then just went about my day. WHAT?! In my Instagram caption (Follow me @HungryTwenties!) I captured the feeling with the question, “Is this real life?!”
The rest of the day was really nice! I spent it with my mom, which is always wonderful! And she was able to meet my running buddies when we first went over to Jess’s house to watch the Syracuse game (but we won’t talk about the outcome…) and then go out to dinner at a delicious local restaurant with a big group of friends! There was lots of wine, lots of food, and lots of fun all around. It was such a great way to celebrate the last long run in the Capital Region and the last night with my friends before starting some travel and solo training.
However, funny story, is that I tried to make a reservation at the restaurant since we had a large group (10 people) for a Saturday night at a busy restaurant. When we arrive at 7:00 p.m. they did not have a reservation in my name, which everyone was so confused by. And upon further investigation, apparently, I mistakenly made a reservation at a restaurant of the same name that is in another state. I didn’t really pay attention when calling to make the reservation and assumed that there was only one restaurant with the name! I’d just Googled it from my phone and hit “Call.” Woops!
I had an angry voicemail from the restaurant in Pennsylvania holding a table for 10 and we ended up having to wait an hour at the bar before we could be seated. It was a slight bummer and totally my fault, but I bought the first round so hopefully that helped ease the pain for everyone a little bit.
Sunday I spent the day packing and organizing myself for a bit of travel and actually had a 6:30 a.m. flight out of Albany this morning. Betcha didn’t know I was writing this from the West Coast! Holla!
I'll be here for work for the next few days and doing my best to eat right and get my training in. Hope you guys have a good week and I look forward to checking in with you! It still blows my mind that I ran 18 miles on Saturday and had so much fun doing it. AND, it always surprises me when I have thoughts about running. For example, when I saw this out the plane window and saw that little road between the two mountains, the thought popped into my head, "Wow, that would be fun to run that!" WHO AM I??