Today I hit a milestone during my run with TNT. Today was the first time that I have gone above 13.1 miles during a run. Today I had 15 miles on the schedule and I accomplished it. Today also happens to be my 32nd birthday and it was a hot birthday for sure.
We did our run at Shank Park in Hershey. We met at 8am which typically would be fine for a September run, but not today. It was hot and humid! I think by the time I was done it was probably nearly 85 degrees. There is a lot to write about today so I will try to keep to the most important information about my run.
I ran the first 5.5 miles strong and we ran up almost all of the hills. Unlike most runs there were quite a bit of downhill portions of the course that were fairly steep. Overall, I think I handled this portion very well. It was still cooler (than 85 degrees) and there was a slight breeze. There isn't much notable about this portion of the run other than it made me feel good that I was still strong
After this it ended up that my running partner decided that today was not her day and that she needed to cut the run short. This was tough for me at first because I really enjoy running with people, but it ended up working out that I had some alone time. This was cool because I haven't had nearly as much alone time during my runs lately (since I've run with TNT on Tuesdays lately). I thought about a lot of things. One of the primary things that kept me going is thinking about how difficult it is for those who are fighting with blood cancers. I thought specifically about the little guy that I'm running in memory of whose name is Luke Belmont. I reminded myself that the pain that I was feeling was nothing compared with what he went through in his battle with ALL Leukemia. Thinking about him provided some of that much needed strength.
There was a section of the course between mile 9 and 10 that I just flat out walked. We went up 200 feet in about a half a mile. Since I was alone (which was actually refreshing to a point), I decided that I would save my energy for the rest of the run. It was very steep and felt like it would never end, but after that point I was able to run to the next water stop. At this water stop I knew that I could make it to the end. I knew that I had done most of the hills that I would need to run up and that running down the hills would provide time for my muscles to recover.
Once I made it down the hill (Bulfrog Valley Rd) I ended up at the start of the course and my watch read 12 miles. This meant that I only had a 5k worth of a run left and then I would be finished with my longest run that I have ever done. This is when my running partner rejoined me and I give her huge props since she could have left much earlier, but I'm so very thankful that she was willing to do this part with me. We walked all the way up the first hill and probably until we got to the 13 mile marker. Then we did some running and a little walking. I was grateful for another water stop and this provided me with more hydration to get me through the next portion of the run. At this point I had pretty much done all the hills for this course (for real this time). It was mostly downhill. When we got to the bottom of that hill (do you see a theme here? There were LOTS of hills or friends as we like to call them on this run) we got off the road and went on a bike path for about a mile. I was really struggling at this point... not where I wanted to give up or anything, but I did want to walk. We ran some of this and then when we were about a half mile (or less) from completing the course we saw a bathroom were I could get a little bit more water. I took the opportunity and I also looked to see that the finish was within sight. My running partner said something encouraging which I later remembered her saying "embrace the suck" and I took that and literally "ran with it." At this point it took a lot to make sure that I'm "running happy" but I think stopping at the bathroom REALLY helped give me the last push that I needed. Then I kept repeating to myself "I got this" and "I'm almost there" and other positive affirmations/statements. I think my endorphins kicked in when I said to myself "finish strong." I'm not sure how fast I was going at the end, but I decided to kick it into gear and I really did finish strong. (note added: my running partner said that I was "sprinting" at the end which was very surprising since I have no idea where it came from since I was so tired.
So there you have it... I ran 15 miles for the first time. Next week I have the Harrisburg Half as a training run. This running thing is amazing and I'm so thankful that I'm running with Team In Training. Thanks for reading my birthday milestone post and until next time...