Yesterday I went running. I did my longest run to date, 13.5 miles (aka 21.7 km, aka a Half Marathon). I tried to keep track of my thoughts, if for no other reason than to keep my mind busy. It is amazing how many thought you can go through (and repeat) in 2.5 hours.
Let me break it down for you. These where my predominant thoughts, mile by mile:
1 mile: The sun is not up, the sprinklers are still on and all the parking lots are empty. People are preparing to start a new day. And here I am, running... By the time I'm done most people will have dropped the kids off, gotten themselves to the office, had coffee and they might even be planning where to have lunch.
2 mile: Second possible turn to the right, second possible turn to the right, here's the second possible turn to the right. Is this right? I wonder what this surface is called. Bigger than pebbles but smaller than boulders. Rocks? Am I running on rocks? Am I suppose to run on rocks? Wait, why are people running on the other side of the stream? Surely this road of rocks will eventually end up at the same place... or...
3 mile: I'm proud. I remember a time, less than 2 years ago, when I wasn't even able to finish my first 3 mile race. Here I am, starting to feel warmed-up after three miles, knowing I have over 10 miles to go and I know I will be able to do it. This is not even a race, this is just training. Look at how far I've come.
4 mile: Wow, this is really boring. And I have 10 more miles to go. 10 more miles!!! I need to occupy my mind. What should I think about? Maybe I should write a blog post about my thoughts, mile by mile. What have I thought about up until now...
5 mile: Hm... this is kinda neat. I'm strong, I'm capable and I don't hate this. It looks like it will be a nice day. This trail is actually really pretty. Water on both sides and the temperature is perfect. This is not bad, not bad at all.
6 mile: Maybe I should take my jacket off, it's getting pretty warm. Should I eat my gel now? I wonder what my husband is doing. We should really clean our apartment this weekend. What's that swarm of insects? Wow, the gel is really sweet. That's a fast cyclist, I wish I could go that fast. I wonder how it feels to fall off a bike. Wait, that's not a swarm of insects, they are birds. Cool! I should take a photo.
7 mile: I feel fatigued. This is no fun. At least I'm half way there. Half way done with a half marathon... which equals 25% of a full marathon... Hm... running a marathon is starting to sound like a challenge. Maybe I should've tried the half marathon distance before I registered and paid for the California International Marathon in Sacramento this December. This might prove to be interesting.
8 mile: It's ok again. I feel ok. I almost feel powerful. My heart rate is still around 155 bpm and I'm able to maintain my pace. I'm not hurting anywhere. My form is good. Short strides to protect my knees, shoulders, arms and hands are relaxed and I can feel how I land on the ball of my foot. This is going well.
9 mile: I can see how people with a lot of things on their mind might enjoy running. It's the perfect time to be alone with your thoughts and it might even help to distract from the monotonous action of running or/and exhaustion from panting. But I don't have a thousand things to think about. I guess I can make things up. What should I think about..? It's difficult to be imaginative when your mind is distracted by running.
10 mile: Ok, this is starting to go down hill. Not literally, that would be too good to be true. I think I'm starting to feel tired. My heart rate is still good and so is my pace, but my legs are feeling heavier and I'm actually struggling a bit. Maybe I'll feel stronger again soon. Just stick with it.
11 mile: I've never run this far! And I know why! Because this sucks! OMG, I want it to be over! The Sacramento Marathon is now, officially, the most stupid idea I've ever had! WHY?!? Why did I sign up? How was that a good idea?
12 mile: Oh no! My knees hurt! Wait, or is it my calves? Or maybe my gluteus and my hamstrings? Or perhaps my abs? No, it's my feet. Or my hips. Wait a minute, everything below my ribcage hurts! And it's about to get worse, here comes the calves cramps!
13 mile: Don't you dare give up now. I have a handful of debris in my shoes, and it's really uncomfortable. But if I stop I don't think I will be able to start running again, so just keep going! One foot infront of the other. Pull yourself together!
13.5 mile: Ok, I need to run further than 13.1 miles. But what if the distance isn't measured correctly? I better run 13.2 miles, just in case. Why not make is 13.5 miles, to really be on the safe side. Maybe I could even run 14 miles. But why in the world would I run 14 miles? I'm so frigging uncomfortable I wanted to stop miles ago. Nope, 13.5 miles will have to do.
The aftermath: I was unbelievably sore, I almost felt broken. My muscles, my joints and my spirit. However, after a good night's sleep, I'm surprised at how well I am doing. I even went to the gym today. But the whole experience taught me a necessary lesson. Don't ignore proper build up when adding on the miles. It's not advisable to run an average of two times a week (one interval and one 6 miler), run 10 miles once, go back to shorter runs for two months and then run a half marathon. Nobody will enjoy that run, not even a person as awesome and powerful as I am!