12 Miles….or, mostly
I did my last long run of my training cycle for the NYC Half Marathon this morning. We have yet another snow “event” coming in this afternoon and evening, so I figured I’d better get it in this morning, you know, between yesterday’s clean up and tomorrow’s.
I waited until about 8:30am this morning (having cleared my morning for this) to get up and moving for the run. When I woke up at 5:30 the temp rang in around a chilly 6 degrees, so I was hoping the sunlight would work in my favor to warm things up quickly. When I saw the temp hit 20, I hit the door (OK, it was closer to 9am). This would be the longest run I’ve done outside in over a month, the last one being a 8.5 miler on 1/19. My ten and eleven mile runs were both accomplished via the treadmill (the ten I broke up, the eleven I did straight).
Right off the bat, I figured I was just going to go with the flow of the terrain and walk the hills if I needed to. That’s what I’ll do in the race, so that’s what I did today. Except I hit hills right away, right around the corner! OY! But I kept going. The roads were fine, mostly dry, with a few patches of ice or slushy snow.
I went out of my comfort zone through more traveled roads to get out of my usual running ‘hood. The thought of doing multiple loops around my normal area felt akin to the treadmill to me today, so I went down one of our main roads, through a stoplight and into a new neighborhood. There were lots of hills in here, so I kept things easy. About two miles in, I noticed that my stomach felt cold. While I’d layered my tights and had a fleece over a tech shirt, the fact that it was flapping loosely at my waist meant cold air was coming up underneath it. I pressed my hand to my stomach and it felt ice cold.
Pause. Time to tuck in. Thank God no one could see under my coat because it was all bunched in there like Revenge of the Nerds.
That felt better, so I kept on keeping on. Three miles in, four miles in, I kept waiting for that awesome feeling that comes from being outdoors on a sunny day and conquering what most people think you’re crazy to do. I reached up and removed my sweat soaked headband and marveled at how you could be hot and cold all at the same time.
I still wasn’t enjoying the run the way I had hoped, despite the clear weather and mostly clear roads. Dodged a few automobile shaped bullets (the curb was narrow in spots due to the snow) and around mile 5 broke open my Kind Bar and swigged some water.
It was cold. It was really cold. I’d removed my gloves but put back on my headband. Unfortunately for me it had frozen a bit, so I had the sensation of sweating and feeling chilled all at the same time. I think this was when I noticed that my sweat soaked pony tail was frozen.
No matter. I took every side street, every available way to add miles into my run, because I knew I was going to make it. I didn’t care how much I had to walk, I was going to hit my 12 mile mark. This was my last long run. I was going to make it count.
Around mile 7 or so my feet started to hurt, and I remembered that I ran 6.5 on my treadmill on Sunday, the day after standing on my feet all day at a kids’ event I was in charge of. And I ran 3 more yesterday. So just as I was about to throw in my non tapered towel, thinking I’d never be able to do this in two weeks, I remembered that I was not fresh today. And I was certainly choosing a hillier route than my actual race would be.
By mile 8 I was getting texts from friends, who knew I’d go out running this morning, but couldn’t believe I was still out there doing it. I texted back that I was starting to walk more than I was running. At this point I was really unhappy. My feet hurt, my hair was frozen (as was my headband and every part of my fleece that I’d dripped sweat on), I had a permanent taste of salt in my mouth from sweat and mucus, and my water bottle was nearly empty.
But there was no way I was quitting at this point. 8 miles! “Only four miles to go!” I texted back.
I trudged up more hills, read more texts, ate another Kind bar, and pretty much hated life for at least two more miles. I hit another wind (third? fourth?) on a downhill and kept moving. That’s when I got the notification that my phone was less than 20 % charged. Shoot. I was somewhere between mile 10 and 11, and I didn’t want to lose the data. I pulled out my phone and kept an eye on the battery as I chugged along. I was nearly there! Nearly home!
At mile 11, I stopped RunKeeper when my battery showed 10 % life. I knew better than to push it, because I’ve lost runs that way. But I kept going. Without data, without tracking….and likely, without quite hitting the 12 mile mark, although I think I probably made it to 11.8.
And today, for me, for this cold, chilly run? That was OK. That was enough.
I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be, and I’m not as prepared as I would have liked, but it’s time. It’s time to taper. Today was my last long run, and I am OK with that. I don’t ever want to do another run like today’s run. It was cold, and I’ve been cold ever since. Despite hot tea and bundling up and warm scarves and hot lunch. I’m cold.
I truly hope the weather is better in two weeks. Because even Manhattan will have a hard time making a run like today’s feel awesome.