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.