I’m about a week behind on training for the Pittsburgh Marathon as an awful stomach virus ripped through our family at the end of one training week and stuck around well into the next week. I decided not to stress about it though, because I’m me. I’ll get to that 20 mile run before Marathon Day and all will be well. By well I mean that hopefully I won’t fall over on the course. You know.
Stomach virii aside, let’s talk about something I am pretty excited about: THIRTEEN POINT FREAKING ONE MILES!
On Saturday, I set out on my 13 mile training run. I wore my FuelBelt hydration belt. I had extra water sitting on the front porch in case I ran out. (I am very careful with hydration due to my kidney disorder.) I also had a plan: Run a two mile loop which brings me back to my mailbox, then run to the bottom of the hill, and then walk back up the hill at a fast pace (approximately 120 quick steps) while drinking water. And then repeat! ALL THE TIMES!
I decided to throw in the 120 step walk and water breaks to practice for hydration stops on the course and to give myself the break I’m needing as I ramp mileage back up. I really, really started to look forward to the walk and water breaks around the 8-12 mile loops.
Anyway, it went really well, other than my speed tanked in the last two miles. My legs felt strong, though my hips continued to tighten the whole run. The walk breaks helped the stiffness a little bit. I kept a 10:41 pace until those last few miles, which is what it looks like I’ll be shooting for come race day—somewhere in between 10:30 and 11:00/mile. Much slower than my half marathon pace, but I’m being realistic as to where I am right now. It feels good in that pace zone, and while I find speed every now and then, nothing that I can maintain at this point.
One thing I thought of as I ran 13 miles, back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, was how weird it was to be running that distance solo. My normal long runs don’t exceed 12 miles. Any time I’ve run 13 miles, it’s been on a race course with cheering spectators, funny signs, my family, and a general ambiance of awesome. My neighborhood was all but empty yesterday, save for the Horse Neighbor who shouted a word of encouragement when I passed his house for the fourth time. Running that distance with no support felt weird, lonely even.
It also felt really awesome.
I have a number of long runs left before race day. Prior to this weekend, I felt kind of nervous about them. Less so about my legs and lungs and body and impact and exhaustion, and more so about that whole lack of support. It makes a difference when people are cheering you on, when you know that people are watching and caring and sending you forward with the best of wishes. The funny signs that make you laugh. The high fives from little kids. The bands. Just the whole thing. So when you’re running 13.1 miles alone, just for yourself, the only thing you have to keep you moving forward is… yourself. That’s a lot of pressure.
And I survived the pressure. I ran 13.1 miles. And I’ll run 16 and 18 and 20. And then on race day, Pittsburgh will carry me to the finish as I run home. I’m a pretty determined person in general, so finishing that run all alone made me feel really proud that I put my mind to something and saw it through to completion.
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