Sunday, March 12, 2006

Longest run to date

I went to bed last night and woke up this morning super nervous because today was my first scheduled 9 mile long run - my longest run EVER. Since I wasn't entirely sure I was prepared, I was jittery. I made it out there, 30 min later than planned (ha! I procrastinated, what a surpise!) walked, stretched, and went. The plan was to run 3 laps of the Duke XC course which would actually give me 9.3 for the day. I know this course, it's generally well populated, but mostly I just went because I know the distance, I didn't feel like measuring or estimating.

The first 3 miles: Just shuffling along, smiling at people I meet and watching the golfers through the trees. Every once in a while "oh my god, 9 MILES" would sneak into my mind, at which point I would say "hey, it's only 3 laps" and then my inner devil said "yeah, 3 3-mile laps." Somewhere about mile 2 I decided that while my IT band has been feeling much better, it's not ready to run up steep hills just yet. So I walked the big hills, shuffled down the steep downhills, and just ran the rest normally. Well...that strategy made me realize I really need to work on pacing! I'd run a 14-minute mile, followed by a 12-minute mile, followed by a 10-minute mile. That went on the entire time...

Second loop - Ok, this isn't so bad, 1/3 done. New golfers to watch, new people to smile at. Did a little silent cheer when I passed the 5 mile mark - over half way! At the end of this loop I stopped at the car to stretch, drink some water, and eat some m&m's (I know, probably not the best choice, but hey, it's what I had) and hit the trail again.

Third loop - Ok, I'm tired! My legs were definitely tired which of course I expected, by my arms were feeling sorta rubbery too. My left leg was getting really tight even with the couple minutes of stretching I did - and when I could see the mile marker at the end of mile 7, but hadn't quite gotten there, I got pretty mild cramps in both calves. I stopped to stretch thinking about my hydration and came to the conclusion that I was fairly well hydrated...and then I thought about my moving week diet. Ok, that could be the problem. Stretched out the cramps and off I went again. At this point there was no prayer of running up the steep hills because even if my IT band would do it, my calves would have knotted up like mad. I passed the 8 mile marker with a huge smile on my face. Only one more to go. By this time the trail was getting kind empty, even though it wasn't even 3:00 yet...but there was this one other girl who I met going the opposite direction every lap - it made me feel good to know someone else was out there as long as I was!

As I finished I was thinking about how I've changed in the last 3 years. Grad school was pretty rough, and really did make me a different person. Unfortunately, one part of that was that my fitness really suffered (imagine that, in an exericse physiology program) and today I felt like I was really getting back to my old self again, it felt great. Also, though...3 years ago, knowing what a challenge this run would have been, I don't think I would have done it. I think I would have been content to never run more than 5 miles....I'm definitely much stronger now than I was in August of 2003....

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