I literally cried as I was finishing my 20-mile run today, my 1st 20-miler in over 6 months (since the Carmel Marathon in April 2015) and a distance that felt impossible just 2 months ago. It is not the 1st time I have cried from running… think injuries, intense muscle spasms and even vomiting (way back in high school after a hard 800 meter race), but this was different. Today I cried tears of joy, praising God and rejoicing for where I am right now compared to where I was just a few weeks ago.
In August 2015, I was sidelined with an injury to my left Achilles Tendon. I was mostly walking and biking, and my longest run all month was a very slow (11:27/mile) 7-mile jog that nearly killed (from exhaustion) our family dog Lucy, my running partner at the time. Even before the Achilles injury ruined my running for a few weeks, I was already struggling on every single mile I ran since I moved to Alabama in June. I cannot wrap my mind around how I got from that very low point in my running to running 20 strong miles this morning, just 2 months later. The only explanation is that it is a God thing! He has heard my prayers, lifted me up and carried me through.
I have always said that the #1 reason I run is to honor God, and today I owe God all kinds of glory and praise. This was nowhere near my fastest 20-mile run. I was not racing anyone. There is no prize other than the satisfaction and the sense of accomplishment that comes with a great workout. Plus there is this mental thing about running 20 miles. The 1st time I did it last year, it was brutal and miserable, but once you start to feel confident about 20 miles, then 26.2 doesn’t sound so bad. As great as this run was, it is not the end goal, but it does give me the confidence that I can now officially register for the Rocket City Marathon (marathon #3 for me) that I’ve been considering the last few weeks.
This is how the run went…
I got a later start than I wanted, so I thought I was cutting it to 18. I ran VERY slow & easy, keeping my heart rate under 150 bpm, and I was only at 10:00/mi at 14 miles. Then I looked at the time and thought, “If I can run the last 6 miles under 9:00/mi then I can finish 20 in time to get Sam from preschool.” You never know if you can do something unless you try. I was feeling good, so I asked God to help me finish with 6 strong miles and went for it. I figured the worst thing that would happen is muscle cramps that would cause me to cut it short anyway. So I ran the last 6 miles progressively faster and finished with a strong kick in mile 20. I had no stops or pauses (meaning I hydrated and fueled just right so that I didn’t have to stop and pee once along the way) and no cramps, muscle spasms, dehydration or stomach aches. I even still had something left in me at the end, feeling like I could’ve finished 26.2 if I kept going. It was still pretty slow overall, but it felt amazing to finish so strong and not limping in with muscle spasms or stomach cramps.
I ran a TON of hills today (total elevation change of the inclines was 2,249 feet), and even during miles 18-20, the hills didn’t bother me. Everything just clicked for a great long run today.
MILE SPLITS: 10:25, 10:08, 11:03, 10:15, 10:03, 9:45, 10:01, 10:06, 9:40, 9:31, 9:30, 9:09, 9:11, 9:35, 8:52, 8:28, 8:24, 8:10, 7:44, 7:24