Today was the first really long run of the training cycle, and my whole being was aware of it: my body, my mind, my spirit. Before detailing the run, let me explain how I think about run lengths. Here is how I categorize runs:
Not a real run: Less than 2 miles
Short run: 3-4 miles
Medium run: 5-7 miles
Long run: 8-12 miles
Loong run: 13-15 miles
Looong run: 16-20 miles
Race only: 20+ miles
I’m not claiming that these make sense (why are 8 and 12 together, but not 12 and 14?), and that’s not the point. Today was the first day of the training cycle where Lina and I reached the highest non-race run rung (say that five times fast!), and as mentioned, I couldn’t have been more aware of it.
But my intense awareness of being in the looong run range didn’t start until I was actually on the run. During the past week, I didn’t dwell on, dread, or fear the upcoming 16 miles; I just knew we had to run long, that I had to hydrate, and that I had to eat enough on Saturday to properly prepare. In fact, my spirits were high and remained that way until about 8 miles into the run.
Miles 10-12 weren’t bad, but I was thirsty and Lina and I happened to be running a frustratingly fountain-free stretch. Then, mile 13 rolled around and the slow ache that had been gradually, almost imperceptibly poisoning my body took center stage in my mind. My body knew it, my mind knew it, and my spirit knew it: I was on a very long run. My body took note (through pain) of having pounded pavement for nearly 2 hours; my mind kept thinking about the distance we had covered and had yet to cover, as well as the times associated with each; my spirit teetered dangerously on the edge of defeat and inspiration.
I entered that place that only a long run can push you, where everything aches but you can’t stop and you can’t slow down and you have to speed up and you have to push through it but you can’t push through it but you have to and you want to whine but it takes too much effort and all you can think about is making it please making it to the end. That place.
When we finally finished, I sucked down the rest of my water and immediately thought, “LDP (long distance pain)…I remember you.” But this wasn’t the happy reunion of seeing a good friend from childhood or a beloved family member. No. This was the run-in with an ex-boyfriend with whom you had a very tumultuous relationship. It’s an encounter in which you are hurt and frustrated all over again just from the sight of him, but somehow, you also feel a teasing sense of familiarity that makes you want to smile and, even worse, linger for a bit. Good feelings and bad feelings are at war and it’s all rather confusing.
Which is why I ended the run and, embarrassingly enough, started to cry as I sat down to stretch. I was just so achy and relieved it was over. I also had a rush of negativity in which I whined about how much I wished I were training for a shorter race instead. Luckily, a little bit of stretching revived me and, of course, I now feel very accomplished.
I will say, though, that I thought this time around my body would remember these long runs well enough to skip over the pain experienced back when 16 (or 18 or 20) miles was the farthest I’d ever run. Not the case. I think the most I can hope for is feeling better on the next long run, which seemed to happen last time; Lina and I both noticed that pain-filled and pain-free long runs seem to alternate, regardless of length.
To end as usual, here are the vital stats of the run:
Parting thoughts: I think Lina and I ran well.
I am still achy and will most likely have trouble falling asleep tonight, if my long run history tells me anything.
I am in need of a general burst of motivation, and I need to start fundraising.
I want to watch the new Dexter.