It’s just amazing how everything falls into place. My I Run 4 Buddy, Hunter, turned 17 this past Monday. Even though I am in the process of getting together a birthday/care package for him, I wanted to something extra special. It hit me this past Saturday. I decided to go the extra mile for him – literally. Week 11 of my marathon training plan called for me to do a 16 mile long slow distance run but since Hunter turned 17, I thought I would run 17 miles for him! Extra mile – no problem. My plan was to complete the run and do a happy birthday video to post on his step-mom’s Facebook page.
When I was making plans for this birthday surprise, I was going to run after work around 4 pm. But I was so excited to do this that I took a half day of leave so I started my run about 12:45 pm. One of the biggest challenges is finding areas to run long distances (15 plus) that are relatively safe. I could have run it on the Robins AFB 5K Fitness Trail (6x) but for whatever reason, I was not in the mood to run in circles. I mapped a route out that had sidewalks; it was 8.5 miles to and back. I ran with a 12 oz water bottle and brought along a couple of dollars so I can stop at a gas station for a water break.
The first 4.5 miles was relatively easy. However, after it started to get very difficult. One, the route I chose was very hilly. It’s kind of funny that you only notice the hills when you are running and not driving! Two, the heat and humidity were getting to me. I even ran out of water before the turnaround point. But I kept pushing myself. It seemed to take forever because I was on a road that I never ran before. When I got to 8.5 miles, there was a gas station on the corner so I went ahead and refilled my water bottle. Halfway done. I started the return trip. Probably for the first time, I started to hit a wall. I was running out of energy so I ended up walking parts of it. The heat/humidity was really getting to me and I ran out of water about 13.5 miles into the run and I didn’t have enough money to buy more. I’ll admit, I was feeling defeated. I had some thoughts of giving up on my dream of running a marathon. Despite the frustration, Hunter reminded me on why I was doing this. So I pushed myself. I ran when I could and walked when I had to. My feet was sore. My calves were stiffing up (probably because I was wearing compression shorts). I was thirsty. The last 4 miles seemed like an eternity. But before I knew it, I was finished. 17 miles. I immediately bought 2 bottles of water and took off my running shoes to help relieve the pressure.
I did it. My toughest long slow distance run to date and I did it. I really wanted to try to run the whole distance however I have learned that there are times that may not be the case, sometimes due to circumstances beyond our control. The heat index was 93 degrees and the humidity was 87%. I was running on a course that had multiple hills. But despite all that, I did 17 miles for Hunter. If it wasn’t for him, I would have quit and called for someone to pick me up. After I cooled off, I recorded a video wishing him a happy birthday and letting him know what I did for him. After posting it to Facebook, I got word that he was very happy and played it over and over again.
Now some good things came out of this. My recovery period was shorter than last week’s 15 mile run! Since I didn’t have to don on the uniform, I went straight home and relaxed in bed. Later, I went to dinner and walked around Walmart a bit. The soreness was minimal by the time I went to bed. Yesterday, I did 2 fast tempo recovery runs: A 1.5 mile run with a 8:55 pace and a 4 mile run with a 9:34 pace. What??? After running 17 miles the day prior, I was able to do that??? Wow.
So what did I learn from this experience? Here we go:
1. I have 2 more long slow distance runs that will have to be done during the week, an 18 and 14 mile. I have already made plans to take off from work on those days. I’ll run very early in the am and use the rest of the day to recover. I have learned that wearing combat boots after running 15 plus miles is not a good idea for recovery!
2. I plan on running on base for my long slow distance runs even if it means running in circles on the base 5K trail. The route is relatively flat and safe. My car can be parked near the trail and I can have a cooler filled with water so I can grab and go if needed.
3. If I decide to run another route or another part of the day, I’ll be sure to wear my camel water pack and have more than a couple of dollars on hand!
Despite the hiccups, I was glad to make Hunter’s birthday extra special by going the extra mile for him. It was simply amazing on how my training plan called for a 16 mile run on the week he turned 17! Even though it was not my best training run and I had thoughts of giving up, thinking of Hunter serves of my inspiration and motivation to push myself and keep going. This may be the most difficult part of the training but I have to remind myself that I can do this and it will be worth it when I cross the finish line on November 8th!
So did you have an experience similar to mine? If so, shout out in the comments below! Thanks for reading and happy running and/or training. Whether you are training for your first 5K or marathon – YOU GOT THIS!! Don’t doubt yourself! Cheers!