To be able to run 20 miles, you need only believe that you can.
Today was the workout that I've been dreading for several weeks. For only the second time in my life, I was going to run over 20 miles today. I mean, that's an irritatingly long drive, so the thought of running it by myself first thing in the morning was a little intimidating.
But you know what? In two weeks, I've got to run that plus another 10K, and there is not getting out of that, not once I've committed myself. So today, come hell or high water, I was going to run over 20 miles.
This gets a little trickier when you have a full schedule. Doing some quick math, I figured that the run would take me somewhere in the vicinity of 3 hours, and I had somewhere to be at 11. Taking into account a shower, the drive, and a bit of recovery time, I had to leave the house at 6:00 this morning, no question. As a result, I didn't sleep very well, waking up at 3:30, 4:30, and then - as planned - at 5:30. I wanted to wake up with time to get a little something to eat (Marathon Bar) and get a long stretch in before heading out the door. Somewhat miraculously, I was out the door right on time at 6.
I decided to run with the knee brace today, just to see how much it helped. I tried for a couple minutes last weekend, but it felt uncomfortable and I dropped it only a couple of blocks in. This morning, I gave it a complete try, and I will never wear it while running again.
Don't get me wrong, it did help some, but oddly, it made my knee hurt earlier in the run, and then the pain went away. It popped up a couple times, but overall there wasn't enough of a difference that it is worth being uncomfortable the entire time.
I love running before sunrise for several reasons. It's quiet, it's cool, and, most importantly, there are very few cars on the road, so that even if I am stopped by a traffic light, there is a high likelihood that I can just run through it. My iPod made things even more relaxing by choosing to play slower songs for the first few miles. This included Do I Have To Say The Words (Bryan Adams), Hands Held High (Linkin Park, yes they have slow songs), Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You (Colin Hay) and the prelude music from Harry Potter. Normally, I'm all about adrenaline-pumping rock music, but at the start of a long road, it's nice to settle into a calm, comfortable pace.
As a result, I felt strong and confident early on, and it never went away. It really struck me that there was no part of my brain that said I couldn't do this today. Every fiber of my being knew that I was going to finish, because I believed it was possible.
Also, I didn't stop. I kept running. I had to stop for only one stoplight for any period of time, and starting up after that was agonizing, but after a couple blocks, it cleared out again. As long as I kept moving, I had no problem.
I did try something new today. I had some energy goo. If you know about this stuff, or have ever tried it, you might, rightfully, be suspicious. First off, it's pretty nasty. The flavor is fine, but it's so, so sticky, and when you've been running for over an hour (as I had been when I had the goo), your mouth already feels like it's full of paste. You MUST take these with water, and I did. First, the good news: I definitely had more energy. I've had no caffeine for a couple weeks, and there is some in the packs. Hitting ten miles, I felt a second wind come over me. Unfortunately, I felt something else. A huge stomach cramp. It only lasted about a mile, so it was worth it in the end. Still, I brought two with me, and I only used one.
Generally, it was a good run. Certainly, it was well-timed. I ran out of sidewalk on Burnet, but it was light enough that I didn't worry about getting hit by a car, and yet still early enough that there weren't any cars to hit me. I didn't watch my time. In fact, I only checked one split, and that was what my half-marathon time would have been. One hour, forty-four minutes.
Suddenly - and I do mean suddenly - I was within two miles of home. I hurt, but I felt great, too. I remembered the last two weeks, and I felt strong. I had already run longer than either of those gut-wrenching Sundays, and I had energy to spare. Sure, there will be even more on race day, but today went a long way to restoring my shaken confidence.
Even better, it was the start of what has been, so far, a pretty awesome day. Now, I return to watching the Super Bowl. I'm rooting for the refs, and hoping for some of this:
Score one for the neutral guys.
44 Degrees / Clear, Sunny
2 Hours, 48 Minutes, 7 Seconds