You know, I thought what I had done before seemed like long runs. Not so. Today was a long run. (or long in my book). The reality of how long 17 miles is and how long that might actually take to run hit me like a brick wall today. My last long run post-stress fracture was 13 miles last week so 17 was probably stretching it but I have about 4 weeks to Disney and really wanted to get the miles up there in the next 3 weeks so I could do a shorter distance run the last weekend before Disney. I have been playing catch up ever since the doctor released me to start running again so I think this weekend should put me back on schedule. Seventeen miles is probably a stretch going from a distance of 13 so I hope I don't regret this later this week (or later tonight, or in a few minutes when I try to get up from this chair...).
In all honesty, the hardest part - as usual - is getting out of the house to do it. Not doing it was not an option as a three plus hour run can only be done on the weekend and today is Sunday. I knew it might be mentally difficult to keep running for 17 miles without a group for distraction. (I couldn't meet with the group yesterday as the timing didn't work out my tennis match so I was on my own today). Given it was all about self motivation today, I had 4 different options for routes in my head. I finally settled on Stone Mountain thinking that I could at least stop at the car every 5 miles and get a drink, GU Gel, whatever. Even as I rolled in to the parking lot at Stone Mountain at about 9:15 I was debating which routes within the park I would run. I finally opted for 3 loops around the mountain with an extra couple of miles tacked on the end and then walk back to the car to cool down.
Miles 1 through 5 were OK, mostly just trying to warm up. It was 40ish and windy this morning which normally I think is perfect running weather but is chilly once you get started. I stopped at mile 5, quick drink of Gatorade and gel and kept going. (Oh, quick stop at the bathroom, made the mistake of looking in the mirror - you know I really should run a brush through my hair before I run!) I felt really good on miles 6 through 10. I have no idea why. Maybe all the conditioning is paying off and that leg is no longer torture. Stopped again at mile 10 for another drink and a gel. Miles 11 - 14 still felt good. I think I had that "i am on the last loop" high. At around mile 14.5 I was really feeling it (and probably this is why all the plans only increase mileage by 1-2 miles a week...). My knees were starting to hurt, my crazy big toe joint (I am pretty sure that is the medical name for it) was hurting. The wheels weren't really falling off the cart but the run went from comfort mode to "let's just finish this thing" mode. I FINALLY made it to 17 and started the 1.5ish mile walk back to the car. In retrospect, a dumb idea. It is still 40ish and windy. I don't run in a jacket just a long sleeve tech shirt and knee tights. I cooled down pretty quick and could not convince my legs to run to the car to warm up (darn legs have a mind of their own...) so it was a pretty darn cold walk back to the car. BRRRRRR... The run today was right around 3 hours by the time I got back to my car including the walk.
The run wasn't all torture, don't get me wrong, it was really just that last little bit. I was happy that I felt good right up to the end and honestly, that was my own fault for trying to tack on too much mileage. On the up side, I have gotten really good at attacking the hills from running at Stone Mountain (trust, me there are plenty of them - if you run one direction it is slightly less uphill but for some reason I decided to run the extra hilly way today). I think what works best is to just look down and keep your normal pace and not even look up until you think you are almost there. I know some people have little mantras they repeat when going up a hill. For me, I just put my head down and keep going like it is flat pavement.
I was also working on taking it easy and pacing. I really don't want to start out fast at Disney and expend all my energy in the first half. I would like to run the whole way without long walking breaks if possible. I have been reading a lot of race reports that talk about how surprised runners are that most people are walking at mile 22ish. I want to still feel good to run at that point so I think pacing will be important. I want to enjoy it and not kill myself. It will be my birthday after all!
Not much else to report. I got some major cleaning done downstairs yesterday - FINALLY moved some items upstairs that needed to be moved oh - I don't know - maybe three years ago. ahhhh... DONE! I am doing some cookie baking this afternoon in what time is left after my all morning running adventure. Tomorrow is boot camp in the AM, tennis in the PM. Oh! I made the mistake of looking at my 401k account Friday. For the love of God, don't do it! I am not naive, I know the market is waaaaay down. I just had chosen not to calculate what that might mean to me personally. All I can say is WOW. I will not look at it again. Maybe until I retire.