A 10 MILE ADVENTURE
As much as I wanted to detail everything that went down on yesterday's run (AKA THE LONGEST DISTANCE I HAVE EVER RAN IN MY 22 YEARS ON THIS EARTH), I was completely exhausted by the time I got home from my lifting session at the gym. Yup, you read that right. I somehow had the energy to lift for 90 minutes after spending 1 hour and 34 minutes running...and then had the absolute pleasure of walking home from the gym at 9. Cardio overload? Impossible.
Anyhow, everything that happened during that run is still very much fresh in my brain. All the highs and lows and OMG I QUIT IT'S TOO DAMN HOT OUT moment. I should preface this recollection with the fact that I went into my first outdoor run in almost 3 weeks with no specific pace or set distance. I have been wanting to get to 10 miles for some time now, probably ever since I signed up for my half back in March..because it's a big jump to go from 9 miles all the way up to 13.1.
With that in mind, I set out yesterday morning at 5:40 a.m. with high hopes of finally breaking past the 9 mile barrier. I was super hyper, excited just to be running outside in warmer temperatures and without any crazy wind to contend with. Obviously the whole running when it's sorta daylight issue was on my mind, but overall I went into this run prepared for anything. And anything and everything is exactly what I got.
I started out way to fast, probably all the nerves/jitters and general excitement of being back in my element and doing what I love most. I knew I would regret it when laps 2 and 3 cam around...but in the moment I was having way too much fun to care. I actually ended up hitting a new 5k outdoors PR of like 27:50 something. I even found myself enjoying those first few hills. Which is so not me...but it was nice to be in such a goo mood/mental state during those difficult moments.
By the time I had finished that first lap (it's somewhere between 2.5 and 3 miles long)...thing were starting to get real. I'm talking real sweaty, real difficult physically/mentally, and real snot filled. Oh, and it was already way lighter out than I thought it would be for 6 am. I knew that looking at my watch and stressing over pace or how far I still had to run would be a terrible idea. So, instead, I focused on running tall, really using my arms, and repeating my mantras in my head. One that really helped on the longer/less steep inclines (or just at any moment when I was feeling like crap) was to "attack the road/sidewalk/hills." Somehow that phrase just got me to refocus my mind, run with good form, and forget about how much farther I had to go.
Lap 2 was honestly not the most fun...because I had a lot of moments where I was ready to just throw in the towel and quit. I knew I had to tack on some extra miles below the tracks to if I wanted to get to 10 miles without adding on a bunch of hills at the end. So, that meant changing my route a bit and avoiding the underpass because I really just did not feel like getting hit by a car while trying to break records and barriers.
And I cannot even tell you how many times I was running but felt like I was getting nowhere. It didn't seem to matter how much I focused on form and keeping my head up...my legs just seemed to be fighting me the whole time. The whole sweat/snot combo was not making things an easier. I finally just had to give up on wiping either away and just accept the fact that I was gonna be running partially blinded by sweat for the remainder of the morning.
Of course, this just had to be one of those mornings where traffic was crazy, and everyone you've ever known is out on the roadway. And as I was transitioning from lap 2 to lap 3...I admit that I had those moments where I felt self-conscious. Like I would do anything to be able to run outside while also being invisible. Especially because I knew at this point that I looked like trash and was super emotional/scared about the prospect of running such a long distance. On the inside, I was completely breaking down and ready to quit.
To make matters worse, every time I wanted to cross the four lane to get on the right hand side walk I couldn't without stopping and I was so SO TERRIFIED that if I stopped I would not be able to get running again. And I was only like halfway to 10 miles at this point and my hips just were not cooperating at all. I was so close to tears at this juncture, and I'm not sure whether it was the sweat or struggle that was inducing this feeling of helplessness. Then, I just said screw it I'll cross the street when I get closer to the railroad tracks.
Once I had made that decision, I had a few stress free blocks to calm my mind and get my shit together. I just kept reminding myself of how great I was doing so far...and how this run was all about endurance and that pace did not matter at all. Then, finally I get that mental boost I need as I see one of my best friends driving past me right before I have to stop for a few seconds to cross the street. From that point on...I knew 10 miles was going to happen...come Hell or high water.
I totally kicked ass on that mini hill going up and over the rail road tracks...I was running as if my life depended on it. I no longer gave myself the option of quitting or giving any fucks about who saw me or how much snot/sweat was flying through the air as I galloped along. Because, I have been running long enough to know that for me at least...I don't run pretty. I run covered from head to toe in perspiration, snot, tears, from time to time a little bit of blood, and a whole lot of self-doubt.
After I completed my usual down and back on main street, I headed towards the 4 way stop (aka every runners worst nightmares because tons of people getting gas + lot's of traffic + awkward sates) to begin my final lap. I hadn't even gotten to the intersection before I hit a wall that had absolutely nothing to do with running and everything to do with my past. It was like for a moment time stood still and a rush of emotions took over. I was most definitely crying at this point and wanted nothing more than to get out of there ASAP.
Everyone has that one person who made them doubt themselves and their self-worth. Feel like they weren't good enough in one way or another. Whether it was through a string of cruel words, broken promises, or just randomly walking out of your life for no rhyme or reason. That last one is honestly what hurts the most in my experience. Especially when you thought that the person would end up sticking around at least for a while, and definitely longer than a month. So, I did what any strong, bad ass woman does and sucked it up and ran like I was heading toward the finish line of my half marathon. Like I had somewhere I really need to be and if I was late the world was going to end.
I didn't even make eye contact or actually see the person who just a few short months ago had me feeling like I wasn't good enough for anyone. Ever. Like I was destined to be single for the rest of my life and just suck at relationships in general. Like I needed to change everything about myself to be "good enough." However, as I continued on with my run, I couldn't help but think about how good I had gotten at running since the start of 2018. How much I had thrown myself into my training and becoming a stronger version of myself. I concluded that I although I am not "perfect" I am right now the best version of myself. And at least in my books, that qualifies as being "good enough."
I didn't glance at my watch to see where I was at distance wise until after I had climbed one of the last few hills on my route. My Garmin Forerunner read 6.72 miles. Fuck. That is the first thought that popped into my head. Not oh wow I only have like 3ish miles and some change to go. I was feeling a little defeated...and certainly not optimistic in any way, shape or form. But, I continued on and just hoped that my Ipod would somehow know that I needed some super fast, motivational music ASAP.
At mile 7.5...I knew I had to somehow find a way to add on miles while also avoid hills or running back past Casey's for the umpteenth time. Too many people and cars there. So, I decided to go down this little winding road on the outskirts of town that I had never ran on before. I made this decision in the blink of an eye after nearly stepping on a dead squirrel that was lying on the side of the road. So, I took off and hoped that this little adventure off my normal path would not end in injury or a fall...or both.
Luckily, there were no falls and I actually found myself liking this winding road with no traffic and just a handful of houses scattered on each side. It was a nice break from running on the otherwise busy streets/sidewalks that I have grown accustomed to. The whole loop from start to finish probably is only maybe 1/2 mile at the most...but it was what helped get me through those last 2.5 miles without stopping and passing out along the side of the road. I did two laps on that road, and made each lap longer by circling back past the gym each time...telling myself that I was "almost there" each time.
As I trudge on my second trip down that winding road and neared the 9.5 mile mark...I just couldn't believe that I had gone that far...or that I was on track to run 10 miles in just over a 90 minutes. I was amazed. Proud. And also a little apprehensive about the thought of having to tack on a extra 3.1 miles to this distance come September. However, I didn't let that fear take the fun/joy out of finishing my first 10 mile run. When I was finally able to hit the stop button in the parking lot of Total Body Fitness....I wanted to jump for joy when I saw my pace of 9:23 on the screen...and the NEW 5K PR.
But, let's be honest, my legs were jello by that point so all I could muster was a weak smile as I headed into the gym to attempt to get my lift on. More or less it was just a beat out the clock game at this point. The weights were feeling heavier than normal and regular water breaks were a must. In the end, I think the thing I was most proud of (aside from the distance and running unapoligetically) was that I had the energy/strength to get an upper body workout in and then walk the mile or so home. Because, it would have been so much easier to just lay down and take a nap in the grass outside after such an adventurous morning.