This Sunday’s run was much easier to endure than the last one because the trade winds have returned to our island and have blown the oppressive heat and humidity away- hopefully far, far away. Technically this week’s long run was supposed to be more challenging than the previous week’s because it was longer (only a little, it didn’t quite end up being 18 miles) and had more hills, but the temperature drop made all the difference for me.
I think, with the extra loop my running buddy Mel and I walked at the end of our run, that we ended up going just under 17 miles on Sunday. This weekend, we will tackle our longest run before the marathon- 20 miles!- and I’m shaking in my sneakers at the thought of it. I think the scariest thing about these really long runs is the sense of the unknown. Each time we jump in distance, I worry that it will be too much for me and I won’t be able to finish. I wasn’t sure I could actually run for 10 miles before I did it, and now that I have done it, I have that sense of accomplishment as reassurance when I feel too tired to continue, but I don’t have that reassurance when we increase our distance. I find that lack a little bit exciting because it feels good to conquer new challenges and a lot terrifying because- what if I really can’t run that far?.
20 miles is a long, long way to run, and the marathon is even longer. I’m nervous that our longest training run still falls 6.2 miles short of the final destination because I feel like a lot can happen in 6.2 miles, but I also understand that it is important to not overdo it while training and if you’re going to get within 6 miles of running a marathon, you might as well just run the whole damn thing- let’s face it, I’m not going to do that unless I’m getting a medal, a t-shirt, and free doughnuts.
I know that at the end of our 20 mile training run, I’m going to feel tired. I’m going to feel sore. I’m going to think that I hate running and it was stupid to even sign up for a marathon when the farthest I’d ever run before was 6.2 miles and that felt really REALLY hard to do and why would I ever think that running an extra 20 miles on top of the 6.2 that were really REALLY hard to do was a good idea for me because I hate running, and I’m tired and sore, and I’m really, REALLY not a fitness freak.
I know this because it is how I’ve felt at the end of every run longer than 6.2 miles- I’ve been both delighted to have finished and also filled with doubt about my ability to go farther and actually accomplish this goal of running a marathon, but I’m doing it. So far, I have been able to answer the challenges put in front of me, and I may not be fast, I may get a red tomato face 5 miles in, and I may be wearing a dorky water bottle belt, but I’m doing it and I’m getting faster and less tomato-faced with every run (there is no cure for the dorkiness of the water bottle belt, I’m afraid. C’est la vie.). So, I guess, bring it, 20 miles; show me what you’ve got. (I really hope what you’ve got is friendly and gentle and accompanied by temperatures in the 70s with a light breeze and slightly overcast skies).
In addition to my first run longer than 16 miles, I reached another milestone on Sunday- I got a hole in my sneakers. It’s not that I’ve never worn a pair of sneakers until they had holes before- anyone who’s known me since my early twenties knows that I will wear an article of clothing (shoes included) until it is more hole than article of clothing- but I’ve never worn a hole in my shoes by RUNNING in them. It’s only a small hole in the toe of my left sneaker made, probably, by my big toe pressing against the fabric, but it’s there and I made it by running.
I’m nervous the hole will continue to grow, so I headed to Be Fit to get a back-up pair on Monday so that they could be properly broken in before the big day. I bought the same shoe, the Topo Fli-Lyte. I really do love them and I think that, at this stage in the game, the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is probably a good one to live by. While my feet and knees are a little sore the afternoon after a long morning run, I don’t think that is an unexpected experience when regularly running double-digit miles, and I usually don’t feel any residual soreness the following day. I’m going to stick with what seems to be working: plenty of water, lots of stretching, and my trusty Topo sneaks. That starting line is getting closer with each day.