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Sweet 16

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

16 miles!!!!

On Saturday I increased my mileage to 16, and it actually went pretty well! I had some anxiety about running this distance. Not sure why, but it seemed like an impossible run. I was scared to do it, and then, of course, so glad that I did.

It started out in heavy fog, which was a new experience for me. I was really glad to have my weird, bright orange, reflective vest! I couldn’t see oncoming cars until they were about 15 feet away. If they didn’t have their headlights on, they seemed to just appear, and that was a little sketchy. *interesting observation – I saw about 10 cars without their headlights on, and every single one of them was white or gray, colors most likely to blend in with dense fog…

After two weeks away from my usual route, the first 3 miles of hills were brutal. I kept second-guessing myself. Do I really want to do this? Why do my legs hurt so much? Luckily, part of me also remembered that after 3-4 miles I get in my groove and can just go. Just have to get there first.

Once the hills were behind me, I felt great. I ran up out of the fog, and it was like crossing into another world. The sky was blue and the sun was shining. It was wonderful. I saw a few people I know while I was out, and I always love that. It adds an extra spring to my step. Running for so long on my own can sometimes get a little lonely. I’m not used to having so much time with just my thoughts.

I was so excited when I turned onto the new section of my route. I drive over it almost daily, but running is such a different perspective. It’s a gorgeous location, too. Have I mentioned I love living in Vermont?

One of my favorite areas on this route is a pond that sits off the side of the road. In the spring and fall it is absolutely filled with Canadian geese. It’s one of their stopping points during migration. It is also across the road from a small farm. The farm has several geese (who I had to avoid as they crossed the road right in front of me) and the biggest pig I have ever seen. This thing is huge.

That section of the route went really well. I felt great, was enjoying the new scenery, and though I encountered several rather steep hills, I made it up them with ease. I saw some dogs, but they were all friendly. I didn’t even mind running back down into the fog. I was feeling great as I reached the end of the road and turned onto the next part of my run. I was 11 miles in and feeling good.

The next part of my route took me on the main road that connects a couple of towns. It’s busy (for up here), and there isn’t a lot of room on the side to run. Add in a couple tight corners, and I was feeling a little nervous. It went pretty well. The sun broke through the fog, and I was happy to be visible again. There was another large hill about 2 miles from where I turned onto the road, and it was a bit tough. My legs were starting to ache, and I was getting thirsty.

I’d asked my wonderful husband to meet me somewhere along the route and bring me Gatorade. I don’t really like it, but that’s what they’ll have at the marathon. I was dragging a bit when I finally saw his car. We met at the place where the running trail crosses the road. It had room for him to pull over, and it was where I was going to switch from road to trail. I immediately tossed the sweaty, heavy sweatshirt, guzzled some Gatorade (Loved it at that moment), and lay down to drain my legs.

Leg drains are the best. My legs had begun to feel heavy and achy from lactic acid build up. Putting my legs up for a few minutes made them 100% better, and I was ready to finish my run. I kissed the kids and hubby and started the last leg of my run. I was feeling a lot better, but the switch from pavement to dirt/gravel was tough. It made my calves ache.

The other problem was the mile markers. Once I turned onto the new part of my route, I had no idea where the mile markers were. I just ran, and it was wonderful. Now, I knew how much farther I had to go, and when I realized I still had a mile and a half left, I started to struggle. It was tough. I bargained with myself about when I could walk or slow down, but every time I managed to talk myself out of it and keep going. When I got within a half mile of home, I knew I was going to make it.

My body was in pain when I got home, but I felt so accomplished. This distance had been such a roadblock for me, but I had finished it. It wasn’t easy, but I also know that next time, it will be a lot better. My body will be ready for it. I was also amazed at how quickly my body recovers from long runs. I was in pain most of Saturday, but by Sunday morning I felt great. Slightly achy in my quads, but that was all. On Monday I was ready to go. I ran 4 miles, took the kids I work with on a 3 mile walk, and taught Zumba.

I am so ready to do 16 again and then move on.

Things that I love for running:
• My shoes – seriously comfortable for 16 miles

• My shirt – I might have to buy more of these. Lightweight, comfortable, sweat-wicking, and they have thumb holes!

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