The trail I run on is 6 miles in a straight line so I run out and back. I start from the south trail head so that means every time I increase the mileage on my long run I see a new part of the trail. I had already discovered that it starts to get hilly 4 miles out, and last week discovered that from 4.5 to 5 is mostly uphill. In fact the five mile marker is in the middle of a nasty hill, and I've been worrying all week about what was after that, how much more up was I going to have to go? Somehow that had burrowed right into my brain and this morning I was anxious and really didn't want to go. But the training schedule said 11 miles and there was no good reason I shouldn't do it, so out I went.
The ipod imps were kind* and I began today with 'Radar Love' and 'Born to Run'.
Passing walkers is always a little boost, even if I do have to go a few more feet to get around them.
I may not look like a super-runner, my shorts have a 5 inch inseam to prevent thigh chafing and I wear a singlet over my sports bra, but everything is made out of poly-wicking fabric.
In fact everything I'm wearing, from my shoes to my sunglasses, was purchased with the idea of running somewhere.
I actually used the mantra 'run the mile you're in' for awhile. The hills were still three miles away, I couldn't worry about them until I got there.
Being passed by runners is always kind of cool, they're usually looking so graceful in motion and I remind myself that someday I can do that.
The woman who won the last Olympic marathon was a year older than I am right now.
I'm not going to win anything, probably ever. But I am going to finish.
I don't own an uber-cool running belt with all of the pods for different liquids and pockets for whatever else you need. I carry a water bottle that has a strap to keep it on my hand, and safety pin my Gu packets to my shorts. It works.
When you're within a mile and half of either trail head you see a lot more walkers, but out in the middle of the trail it's possible to go a long way without seeing any other person.
The folks who stayed in bed didn't see the seven deer along the trail today (my favorites were a doe with two fawns, and a young buck who's prong horns were still a-velvet). They also didn't see the numerous bunnies, squirrels, lizards, birds, or mice I ran with.
Running Comrades** someday would be amazing. Though I should probably run a marathon first.
Running 11 miles will be an awesome excuse to take a nap.
*I run with eight hours of music on shuffle so sometimes a great song gets played at a really bad time in the run, like an awesome up tempo song at the very start when I should still be warming up. I will jump past songs that are just not doing it for me, but it's best when I can just run.
**Comrades is an ultra-marathon held every year in South Africa. It's point to point and 55 miles long. They swap the start and finish every year so some years are uphill and some down. To do it for realsies, you run both.
It turns out that once you get up the hill that has the five mile marker on it the trail flattens out into a gorgeous view of the valley you've just been running in. For about 1/4 mile. Then it starts to go up again. I began making deals with various deities if only the next mile marker could be just around the next corner. Finally, I got there and turned around to run back.
One of the dirty secrets of running is that downhill is almost as bad as uphill, and my knees like it less. But I kept going. At eight miles I realized I felt okay, and maybe I could even try to pick it up a little. Shortly thereafter Meatloaf started to play and I ran faster with the tempo. When I passed the marker that was my ten mile point I raised both arms for victory, every step forward from then on out was the furthest I've run in over a year.
I finished at the now very crowded trail head about two hours after I started. I walked and stretched, and then drove back home.
I ran 11 miles today, even up all of those damn hills. Even when it might have actually been faster to just walk, even though I was scared of it.