Sunday, September 16, 2012

26.2 Miles on the Trails - Alone!

Part of my 50k training involves running for 26 miles one day. So, news flash, I've only done that one other time before any it involved a lot of crowd support and a nice medal at the end to encourage me along. To say I was scared to tackle that distance on my own was an understatement.

On Sunday, the conditions were phenomenal. The low most days has been about 70 degrees over the past few months, but on Sunday it was a glorious 50.  I took Saturday off from exercie completely, my legs felt great and I was really inspired. Plus, I bought a new hydration pack and needed an excuse to test it out. So at 7:30 sharp, I was at the trailhead of Almadhy Trail at Carter's Lake and ready to go.

I could not have asked for a better run. Perfect temperatures, incredible scenery and an empty trail meant that I had the time of my life. After five hours, I was around 25.8 miles and thought about calling it quits. But no. I was that girl running a tiny little out and back to ensure that I had run a full 26.2 miles. Really, at that point you need to just run the whole damn thing.

 

Final Time: 26.2 miles in 5 hours, 16 minutes. That evens out to about a 12 minute mile average, which sends my Garmin-watching mind into a tailspin. Then I breathe, remember that trails have elevation gains and water crossings and rough terrain, and get over myself.

I started the run at 7:30 with a super sleepy grin and plenty of nerves:



And then I finished around 1pm with an even bigger grin and a blank stare in my eyes. But the best part was that I felt fine. Sure, I was tired, but I wasn't dehydrated, sore or carrying around any aches or pains.



I want to attribute my quick recovery (I ran 5.5 miles the day after and felt fine the day after that - but rested) to my awesome compression socks and impeccable nuun/candy corn fueling, but I have a feeling it had more to do with a slow, even pace and running on trails instead of road. It's amazing how much better my knees/ankles/feet feel after running on dirt or gravel instead of pavement/asphalt!

So....second marathon (unofficially) on the books. No crowds, no medal and no water stations, but I did have some of the best scenery around and I was completely alone on the trails for the first three and half hours. Without headphones or talking to distract me, I got to really think and clear my head. I absolutely feel prepared now for the StumpJump 50k, and I'm super excited to tackle the Nashville Half Marathon next weekend as well!

What do you think about when you have a long run?
First I think about how daunting the run is, especially if it's a longer run. Then I start thinking about stupid details - what to make for dinner, work, etc. Then I start planning some amazing recovery food, and round it all out with how awesome I am and how cool it will be to PR, etc. 

Do you prefer to run alone or with a partner/group?
On the whole I would rather run alone, but it is nice sometimes to have a buddy. For long runs, I usually enjoy the time to myself to think and reflect rather than talking and using up energy.  

51 comments:

  1. Wow, that is super amazing. I probably couldn't do a mile-long race on a trail with a thousand spectators, so kudos on your solo training run!

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  2. Congrats, what an awesome accomplishment! You are going to ROCK the 50k!

    I think about everything during a long run - the weather, how I feel, my grocery list, and occasionally big things like "what am I doing with my career?" Sometimes I solve work problems too.

    I love running with people, but I don't have a running partner so most of my runs are solo. I figure it's good mental training.

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  3. the trails will kick your butt like no other! glad you had a good run, sounds like perfect conditions!

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  4. Congratulations! You kicked butt and look adorable in all your gear!
    P.S. I am glad to see that someone else other than me is eating candy corn like it's going out of style lol
    Damn that halloween candy but it's so good!

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  5. How'd you like your Camelbak? I have the Aurora, and I love it. After my first run I liked it, but didn't love it.

    Then I figured out the secret - I put the strap UNDER my boobs and that puppy does not move an inch the entire run. It worked okay above the boobs where I originally had it, but I could feel it creeping up higher toward my collarbone... if you had that happen, try moving it down! Plus it's a little extra support for the girls. :)

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  6. Awesome job!

    On a long run, honestly I spend a good chunk of time trying to calm my anxiety about the distance or any weird aches and pains--you are fine, you can do this, etc. Lame and embarrassing, but whatever gets me through I guess!!

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  7. Damn Girl! Awesome but crazy!! You did great and you are going to rock that 50K!

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  8. awesome run lady!! So proud of you....
    My long runs are tricky...I try not to think too much, and just 'be' in the zone. If I think too much, i get mentally screwed...lol

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  9. That's amazing. I can't even begin to imagine running a marathon by myself, not at a race. And long runs always intimidate me, no matter what, and I consider myself a pretty good marathoner! (By which I mean that I'm better at distance than short races, not that I'm some kind of Shalane Flanagan). I dread the 20 miler no matter what.

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  10. Did you run around the parking lot to make it an even 26.2? Don't be ashamed, we've all been there.

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  11. a trail marathon by yourself... youve got guts :)

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  12. That's awesome! No way in hell I could have stopped at anything short of 26.2 either. I totally understand and relate to your analness. LOL

    I got a hydration pack like that for Christmas last year and haven't even used it yet! How did you like yours?

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  13. Congrats-- that's freaking awesome!!

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  14. Well done!
    As for whether I like running in a group or alone - I guess the answer is both. Sometimes I love my alone time and other times I need the motivation of friends to make it through the run.

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  15. I'm agreeing with everyone else...spectacular run! Wow :) You are really going to be 50K-ready!

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  16. Wow, great job! It's hard to do that kind of distance alone! I agree though that trails are so much easier on your body than the road. I think that the up/down/side/side makes your entire leg much stronger!

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  17. Holy crap! I'm really impressed that you covered that distance on your own. You are really going to rock that 50K!

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  18. oh my gosh vanessa, i can't even imagine doing that all alone not in a race setting. congrats!

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  19. Wowza, great run! I do like running by myself, but fir that kind of distance I might be a little scared on trails by myself.

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  20. 5 hours with no headphones? You are my hero! That would terrify me more than the distance. Your running thoughts sound pretty much exactly like mine. I love running with people, but I like running alone too, more and more lately. Weird.

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  21. Oh crap I forgot my stalker comment which was isn't Tim doing the 50K too? Why didn't he run with you?

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  22. Awesome job girl. You look happier and more energized in the after pic...so great.

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  23. Yay!! You are back! And you are CRAY!!!! Holy cow, I did 11 miles yesterday and my knees felt like those of a 90 year old. You are seriously amazing. Congrats on your second (unofficial) marathon!

    I think about anything BUT running while I am running. I have to distract myself or I will go crazy!! I don't have a lot of people in my real life that like to run so I usually have no choice but to run alone. I kind of like it like that though :)

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  24. Nice work! I probably would have registered for a marathon and run it so that I could have the crowd support and medals and then be like "well, I didn't PR because this is a training run." :)

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  25. Great job! 12 min miles on trails over 26 miles is awesome. Those who run them know. Those who don't, don't matter. I find it funny when runner seem to "explain" their paces when they were trail running. It is amazing that you just went out on your own and did that training run. Way to go! I have to use races to get my long training runs in.

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  26. Gret run and that is super time for a trail marathon! My 39km (24.2mile) trail race took me 6:32 last week. So you were great! I think about a lot on the road but on long trail runs I focus and concentrate a lot more. My thoughts then stays closer to trails and mountains and not falling :) I prefer running solo.

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  27. I hope I'm mentally strong enough one day to tackle that!

    Amazing job!! :)

    P.S. I'm finally in Georgia!! :D :D

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  28. there you are! I was going to email you to see if you were ok...! this is epic! you are very strong and brave. All alone..no music...nothing...that is not easy! Really outstanding! You will be ready for that big race!!! Nashville...so lucky I wish I could go too!

    On the LR lately I have been thinking about marathons...and that it is not a good time to consider doing one because I still feel pain in my groin...I think about starting a mini in home business and how to get started ...yesterday though I listened to podcasts for the first time on a LR and I liked it!

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  29. ps...did you buy our HTC team pic....if no...email me

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  30. great job! Not a long run, but I walked 11 miles on Satruday and I thought about breakfast the entire time. I started right after 6AM, so my mind was what was I going to eat when I got home. It changed a million times.

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  31. That's ridiculously impressive! Well done.

    I definitely think about what I'll eat when I get home - I'm like a dog, very food-motivated.

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  32. I'm proud of you, way to go! I think there is something to say for those long runs where you get an intrinsic reward instead of the extrinsic reward of crowds and cheering.

    Well done!

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  33. Wow that is a whole lotta miles! Congrats to u....

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  34. Awesome job! Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!! :)

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  35. Whoa you're crazy! It's official, running has fried your brain! Welcome to the club;)

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  36. Congratulations! That's amazing. You will do great. :)

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  37. Wowzers - nice freakin job! That is pretty incredible…and awesome! Can't wait to finally meet you in just a couple of days!!!!

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  38. Respect girl, Respect. Well done, very well done. :)

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  39. Congrats on the run!

    I mostly think about what I am writing when I run. After the first 3 miles my mind finally relaxes and solutions to plot problems pop into my head - I just need a pseudo desk/notepad when I run so I can jot things down.

    I much prefer to run alone - I tend to match other peoples running speeds without thinking and I don't end up running at my own pace.

    A marathon length run without pains or injuries is an amazing feat!!

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  40. WOW!! awesome work! curious though-did you only have candy corn and nuun to fuel?? i would’ve died! for my marathons i end up eating several gu’s, whatever fluids they have on the course, and salt tablets. i go back and forth on the running alone/with others thing. i got comfortable training with TNT and enjoy company-it goes by much faster. I have found that running alone allows me to focus on my own run-which is really important.

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  41. awesome trail run!

    All in all, I enjoy running alone...just me and my thoughts, oh and my music too!

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  42. Awesome job on the trail marathon! That is so great that you ran it all alone! takes a lot of mental strength! During my long runs for marathons (20milers) I was talking to myself at the end to keep myself going.

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  43. I think this makes you literally the most determined runner ever! Way to finish 26.2, on the trails, on your own! Such a huge accomplishment!

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  44. Ah, I didn't know you were training for a 50k. Is the 26.2 your longest run?

    My 50k training peaks this week at 24 miles, and then the glorious tapering begins. I did consider running a real marathon for a training run (medal = more motivation), but I knew I wouldn't be able to run without racing it. Saving my legs for the 50k. When is your race? Mine is Oct. 13th.

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  45. How did I miss this? I think it is just amazing that you went out for 5 hours and ran trails by yourself... amazing!

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  46. Man, this really makes me want to do some trail running! Awesome!!

    Kiley @ DVF

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  47. Congratulations Vanessa! I can't wait to hear all about your 50K. You're going to do great and I'm sure you will have a wonderful time.

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  48. I really like those weird moments when everything is set to go perfect and have a nice run.

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  49. That's great! Now I know your feeling how I feel now... I did no running over 2 week period and then did 10 miles this morning on very technical trails with 1500 feet elevation gain and loss. Felt great! I went 3 weeks before my first marathon with no running and after 20 miles in 6th place, finished in 16th. Those moments are sublime and real, we have to live them! :) Make it count! Feel great and live!

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