I guess this makes me crazy
It’s peak week in training for the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon. All of my runs this week have been on my own. This isn’t necessarily bad, but I’ve surprised myself by reaching this point in my running career where knocking out multiple double-digit runs in one week seems fine.
Until Sunday’s long run, the most I’ve traversed by myself was 14 miles. I did this once on vacation a couple of years ago in the summer heat and humidity and again a few weeks ago in conditions that would make anyone else stay inside with a mug of hot cocoa and a warm fire. The juxtaposition of the weather for these runs isn’t lost on me!
The cold run was 34 degrees and raining. My choice to run in that weather was poor enough that when I passed an older man smoking on his covered front porch, he scolded me for it! I kept my opinion of his outdoor activities to myself.
But unlike the abysmal conditions for that 14 miler, Sunday’s weather was darn near perfect. It was sunny and in the upper 50s/low 60s, with just enough wind to cool you off when you started to feel warm.
I set off in my favorite place to run with a rough idea of how I would piece together the miles. I relied heavily on my previous 14 miler as a reference, ready to create my own adventure. That’s the beauty of running in a place that’s so familiar.
We had a big storm blow through the night before. This left a couple of fallen trees on one of the trails I ran. And then in a new neighborhood under construction, I was confused when I didn’t see any of the porta-potties I was counting on. They had all been toppled over by the strong winds of the storm!
Despite taking in salt tabs and energy chews, the pain set in a bit earlier than anticipated this run. As with any big, double-digit runs, you reach a point where you just have to accept that the pain will be a constant companion and deal with it.
I stopped at a Wawa for a snack about 13 miles in. There was a strange man who asked me if I was having a nice walk. He was shocked when I told him that I was running 20 miles today. I passed him again as I left the store, and he told me that I looked like I took good care of myself. It was a bit creepy, but I let it go.
My body was asking for salt and a Coke. I happily walked the remainder of that mile, enjoying every bite of my crunchy potato chips and every sip of my fizzy, sweet, caffeinated Coke. And it gave me the last little bit of sustenance I needed to finish my miles.
With 4 miles remaining, I finally turned on my music. I was doing intervals at this point, but I didn’t care. I was getting it done. I even sang a bit. I’m sure I looked crazy to the casual onlooker.
I know that I could have reached out to multiple friends also training for marathons this spring to run at least some of my miles with me, but a part of me wanted to push the limits to prove to myself that I am strong enough to do it. And I did succeed.
I’ve now earned a taper. Tapering brings its own special madness. And if you’ve ever trained for a marathon, you know!
Blue Ridge Marathon, I’m coming for you! All 3 mountains of you. You aren’t known as America’s Toughest Road Race for nothing!
Have you ever trained for a marathon before? Especially a notoriously challenging one? I’d love to hear about it!
Other than being a bit sunburned and feeling a little sore, I’m surviving today.
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.