Solo runs can be the best and worst experiences in my opinion. On Saturday, I woke up at 6:30 to do a little weight check on the home scale and get ready for my Tedy's Team 18 Mile Group Run.
I owe a special thank you to the wife for getting up at 7am on a Saturday to drop me off at the group run (and saving me $8 in parking fees).
The weather was saying mid to high 30s so I kept with the normal winter running attire (Lululemon jacket and long pants with my Under Armour long-sleeved shirt), but decided to risk it and left the winter hat and gloves at home. I was hoping if I put the "I want nice weather" vibe out there - the universe may finally answer back. I mean we've run through every type of conditions this winter on our group runs ... except a nice sunny morning. C'mon Mother Nature.
I arrived at FitCorp on Beacon St in Boston (our weekly starting point) earlier than usual so there wasn't anyone else really there yet.
It seemed may people from the group were taking part in the Black Cat 10 & 20 Miler so there weren't as many folks milling around as usual.
As usual I had to head outside before everyone else to give my Garmin Forerunner 110 enough time to locate satellites. I'm not sure why my watch takes so much longer than everyone else in the group's watchers, but I know with all the tall buildings that it takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes for my watch to get ready. This leads me to be chilling outside for awhile before everyone else has to enter the cold weather.
And it gives me enough time to take a pic of my shadow while stretching...
Before I knew it everyone was heading out of the gym and hitting the course.
I started the run chatting with some fellow Tedy's Team running mates, but quickly found myself in between two different running paces ... it was at this point I realized I would be running a majority of this 18 mile training run alone.
I was not mentally prepared for that and soon knew this would be a long 18 miles. Running with people always helps the time pass quickly and takes the focus off the task at hand.
But, I knew I had to dig down and get it done. Especially since on the day of the marathon I probably won't have anyone running with me so I will need to get over the running alone hurdles now. Plus, I ran Rock 'n' Roll Savannah alone and we remember how that turned out (well in case you don't ;)).
I started playing the normal mind games with myself.
Okay 3 miles in, you are 1/6 of the way there. Just do that 5 more times and you're Golden.
Alright 6 miles in, you are 1/3 of the way done - just 2 more times and you are done.
Woo 9 miles in - halfway there - less than double digits left.
That helped get me through the first 10 miles of the run, which took us out from Beacon St in Boston to Chestnut Street in Newton, where we take the turn onto Comm Ave and head back to Boston ... running along the Boston Marathon course itself, including Heartbreak Hill.
The sun was shining. The air was comfortable. I was ready to own Heartbreak.
Note: Many people know one thing about the Boston Marathon and that is Heartbreak Hill. It is actually about 2 miles of rolling hills through Newton with the toughest hill at the end of the stretch. But, the hills themselves aren't that bad it is placement within the race that makes it tougher. The hills come about 16 miles into the race. Yeah, that makes them suck people say. :P
As always I needed to psych myself up to get through the hills, but yesterday I needed a little something extra since I was alone. So I just kept repeating to myself:
You Can Fucking Do This
Excuse my language, but I needed to repeat that over and over to get through the final push.
And it worked.
I felt strong throughout the rolling hills ... and I thank my cross-training with Spin for that!
I even saw my girl Robin kicking some booty on the hills - as usual! I love seeing familiar faces during a run.
Once you take the decent over the final hill, it was a little over 12 miles into the run and the next water stop was at Mile 13. So it was nice to get through the hills and have some much needed water and Gatorade waiting for me. :)
That water stop is always a great sight. Usually Jackie (the volunteer) has her pup there, but he was home sleeping this week. :P But it is such a symbolic point because I know there is just 5 miles left and I can run 5 miles. It just makes the final stretch of the run doable. I don't really know why or if I can even explain it, but I think other people who do long runs understand what I mean.
I texted the wife that I was 5 miles out so that she could time her pick-up accordingly. :)
At the water stop, I ran into another Tedy's Team member and ran a little bit with her. She is from Venezuela and is a Boston qualifier (so wicked fast) so it was nice to catch up with her for about a mile or so before I told her to feel free to run ahead and off she went. I hate holding people back.
The last 5 miles are on the same part of Beacon St that we start out on so it is always nice to get back to familiar sights. Plus, it is useful to know how far from the finish you really are.
I hit the final water stop - about 2.5 miles from the finish - and downed some water and Gatorade and picked up some Swedish Fish.
I really owe Tedy's Team a big thanks for showing me the awesomeness that is eating swedish fish on a long run. They really do give me a bigger boost than the sport jelly beans I normally use.
I texted the wife again that I was about 2.5 miles out and asked her to bring a full water bottle as well. :)
I think I stopped at the final water stop a little too long because the last 2.5 miles were TOUGH. But, I knew I couldn't stop.
Even though at Mile 16 I thought: "I can just hop on the T." NO!
I set out for 18 - I was going to run 18.
Plus it wasn't physical at all ... it was all mental.
So I refocused, turned the music up and just kept moving one foot in front of the other.
It didn't help that at every light I hit a red light and had to stop. Grrr...
But I just kept moving forward.
At Mile 17, I tried to get my legs to move faster. In my head they were, but looking at the Garmin - they weren't. :P
But I just kept pushing.
At 17.75 miles, this song came on
as I was running towards the Massachusetts State House
It was one of those moments that you couldn't plan, but was perfect. The right song came on at the right moment.
And all of a sudden 18 miles were run.
As I did the nice post-long run shuffle into the car, I was pleased especially after figuring out I had been spot on with my previous 18 mile run.
I mentally beat those 18 miles. I wanted to stop. The self-doubt crept in. But, I silenced it all and just kept moving forward.
We headed to home so I could complete #myafter:
Dunkin' Donuts Iced Coffee
Low-fat Chocolate Milk
Apparently Molly even wanted to get into the foam rolling action...
... or just distract me. :P
Overall, the 18 miles were done in good time and I felt strong throughout the run. The mental part on the other hand is something I will still work on.
But that is why we do these training runs - to train the body AND the mind.
Next week, I will miss the Tedy's Team 10 mile group run because I will be at a Spin Instructor certification class. I will however be running the Half of Quincy on Sunday, March 10 to make up those miles.