When I first started out, I promised myself that I would keep it slow, which I did, and quit after around nine miles which I didn’t. I was just too close. I have heard from many people that they just ran the Broad Street with no training. Just woke up and showed up and ran. Some with incredible times. I’m not that person. Besides, for me, the working up to the event is way more important than the event itself.
In truth, I’ve realized that I really don’t even like the actual event. An introvert by nature, somewhat shy and incredibly socially awkward, showing up alone at an event that attracts large numbers of people is hard. I don’t do small talk, and have no filter for my mouth. So, whatever is on my mind has a tendency to come right past my lips. Sometimes this is okay and humorous, and sometimes it is, well just not. Anyway, reaching ten miles was important for me.
And hard. It is four weeks about until the Broad Street and I needed to know in my own head that I could do it. Even if, for some reason, I can’t do it that day. I will. I know I will. I’ll be so distracted by trying to remain invisible that I’ll run the ten miles. And it will be hard, because it always is. This week my long run is planned for between six and seven miles. And even though I have already done more, those six or seven will be hard. If I set out to do three, it is three hard miles. It’s a head game I can’t seem to win.
Anyway, I changed up my route some, because there is only so many ways you can loop around my neighborhood. And besides, with my leg hurting I wanted to try to find a terrain with a few less hills. Which did and didn’t work. I was rewarded with adding an easier three miles to my run, and almost getting hit by a car. I also noticed that my form didn’t start to break down until into the eighth mile, which for me is progress. However, the top of my left foot started to hurt around the sixth. It felt as though I was slamming my foot against the road, and I kept trying to change the way I placed my foot on the ground. My right leg was, for the most part, fine. I did add in some quick sprints in the first two to three miles. Just a few, but I do think they helped. Otherwise, I kept my pace between a ten and eleven minute mile (mostly) for the first three. My plan was to try to keep it between ten and ten and a half for the next three and then just run for the last three, which turned into four. This sort of worked.
As I rounded through the seventh mile, I knew I was going to be able to make it to nine. I have to admit I was slightly annoyed by the timing. Normally when I reach seventy minutes, I am just past seven miles. To not reach seven until closer to seventy five minutes was bugging me. I don’t know why. So instead of timing, I started to map out the rest of my route in my head, promising myself that wherever I was, when I finished what I planned I would be done. I also started to do some math in my head as a distraction. When I get really bored and really tired I try to figure out how far an elite runner would be running the same amount of time I am running. I try to get it down to the second. I never do. I forget to carry the one, or forget where I am in the equation. But I persist until I get to some number, which I’m pretty sure is wrong. I would share what it is, but damned if I can remember.
As I was closing in on the end of the run, I felt myself really tire. But, my legs weren’t huge cramping tree trunks, so this is progress. I remembered that I can always slow down, and started to try to pull back on my pace. I was passing nine and a half miles and way too close to just stop. I was determined to make ten. Even if they were going to be ten slow miles. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself as I past the nine point six mile mark, when I became annoyed. Annoyed with myself, annoyed with my neighborhood and annoyed with the damn water bottle in my hand that was sloshing around. I had to pee. Screw this! I picked up my pace. I only had less than half a mile to go, if I really hustled I could finish in under five minutes. And I did. And it felt great. There was something so empowering about picking up my pace as opposed to slowing down. It wasn’t any groundbreaking time. There were no wings on my feet, but I was pushing harder, my form was coming back and I was counting. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, straight up to sixty and then starting over. And then there it was, ten miles. Woo Hoo!!!!
I walked it out for another seven minutes or so and then went home and stretched. Later, I would have frankenstein legs and much later I would feel the need for some pain reliever. But on Sunday I was mostly okay, a little stiff and sore but the more I moved the better I felt. And this morning I was fine.
And, just in case I ever need to run ten hilly, cold, windy miles – well, I got that.