long run reflections

It was cold.  It was cloudy.  It was raining.  It was long.  It was hard.

I suffered.  I fought.  I hurt.  I held on.  I let go.  I conquered.  I believed.


Total Miles: 22
Total Time: 3:18:39
Average Pace: 9:02/mile

Miles 1-7: 8:31, 8:53, 9:03, 9:00, 9:10, 8:53, 9:12
When I woke up this morning after a horrible night with two of my three kids up from 3:30-5:00AM, my husband was amazing and let me go back to sleep for another hour.  I knew this would mean I would begin my run later than originally planned but because of rain and cold temps (“felt like” 38 degrees according to the weather man) I wasn’t worried about beating the heat.  And since I was on my own and didn’t have any running buddies to meet up with (they all ran yesterday with our training group), I had even more flexibility.  Sleep was important and one more hour makes a big difference.

So I hit the trail around 8:00AM and It. Was. Cold.  And wet.  But I had to get it done.

I have run two 18 milers and one 20 miler this training season and all three of those runs have been at just about a 9:00/mile average pace, so that was my goal again for today.  The first mile was too fast, but I was cold and just wanted to get moving.  These first seven miles were okay for me – I found myself occasionally a little overwhelmed thinking about how FAR I had to go, so I decided I would run 7 miles west, turn back for another 7 to my starting point (where I left more water and refilled my hand held) and then go east for 4 miles and turn back home for the last 4.  This worked well for me both logistically and mentally because I could just focus on the chunk of miles I was currently working on, not the big picture.  I stopped at mile 5 to eat my first gel and sipped my water the whole way.

These first 7 miles were very cold and very wet and pretty lonely – there were not a lot of people on the trail today.

Miles 8-14: 8:57, 9:04, 9:00, 8:46, 8:53, 9:08, 9:37
After turning around I was still really cold and wet and the wind started picking up.  I was running right into it and it was just making me colder.  I tried not to think about it though and powered through.  I ate another gel at mile 10 and continued to drink my water.  I was wearing capri pants and a long sleeve shirt today and was kinda wishing I had worn shorts or a running skirt instead.  My pants were so wet that they felt really icky.  I don’t think my legs would have been any colder in shorts or a skirt.

Just as I was starting to feel pretty cranky, I looked up at the sky and was so happy to see a rainbow painted across the gray clouds ahead of me.  It was so beautiful, and such a peaceful reminder.  A gift.  It was symbolic to me of how all this suffering is worth something – that whenever I have gone through hard times in my life God is watching over me and taking care of me.  I began to think about times in my life that were particulary hard for me and I felt so comforted in that moment.  I did not feel alone.

These were some of the most difficult miles of the run for me today – the wind was really hammering right into me, pushing on me, slowing me, chilling me – yet mentally there were not so bad, because of that rainbow.

Miles 15-18: 9:27, 9:04, 9:15, 9:22
This was tough.  I stopped at the end of Mile 14 to fill up my water bottle and my legs felt tight, cold and a little crampy.  I hate stopping for too long, but my hand held was empty and I still had 8 more miles to run so I really needed to fill it up.  Once I started moving again, I was feeling pretty DONE with the wind, but it just kept pounding at me.  My rainbow was gone.  If I thought about having to run 8 more miles I felt UNmotivated, but when I thought of it as just needing to do 4 miles until I could turn around, this was much better.  I ate another gel at mile 15 and pushed on through the wind.

Miles 19-22: 8:55, 9:05, 9:14, 8:02
After finishing mile 18 I actually said out loud to myself “Time to go home, Jess.”  I was ready to get there!  Only 4 more miles to go.  I tried to eat a couple of Power Gel blasts here but they tasted really sugary and chewing was an unpleasant experience – everything in my body felt tight, including my jaw.  I don’t think I really *needed* these but brought them with me just in case.  For the marathon I plan to eat a 4th gel at mile 20 to get me through the final miles of the race, but that wasn’t necessary for today.  Mile 21 was hard for me – I was starting to feel like I was dragging, but I wanted so badly to finish this run feeling strong.  Music was playing in my iPod and just as I began the last mile of this run, Eminem “‘Til I Collapse” came on.  It could not have been a more perfect song for me at the moment:

‘Cause sometimes you feel tired,
feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
and just pull that sh** out of you and get that motivation to not give up
and not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.
Um yea, need I say more?  Eminem, thank you.  My last mile was my fastest in 8:02 and I finished feeling strong.  I seriously love that song, even with the crazy bad language.
When I got home I stopped at the front door and stretched a little but I was so cold I just wanted to go inside.  I walked in and immediately my son Will grabbed onto my legs and told me he wanted me to make him a paper airplane!  No rest for Mamma!?!  Honestly, coming home from a run like that is so crazy.  I stretched a little and got on the foam roller for a few minutes but my house was complete chaos.  Robert – the amazing incredible husband that he is – started a cold bath for me (while holding the baby!) and my whole entire family crammed into our tiny bathroom so I could take an ice bath.  I had never done this before but have wanted to try and though my house was a zoo, it was the perfect day for it.
i am in a tub of ice water!
I put on my fleece jacket and got in the cold water.  Robert dumped the ice in and it was cccccccold!  Abby read me a book and Will sat on the edge of the tub and told me knock-knock jokes.  My family was so cute and so supportive.  I read that you should do something to distract you while in an ice bath and trust me – I had LOTS of distractions!  It made my ten minutes in frigid water go by quickly.
being read to by my 6 year old = happiness
As my bath was coming to an end the amazing husband went over to our other bathroom and got a hot shower started for me, so as soon as I was done in the frozen tub I walked down the hall and immediately stepped into HEAVEN, also known as steamy hot blissful shower.  No worries, my entourage followed me and the reading and jokes continued as I showered.
After that, my amazing husband went to Chipotle and me a delicious black bean burrito, my favorite post long run recovery meal.  Protein is important after a run like that and since I don’t eat meat, this is a great choice for me.  Yummmm…
The rest of the day was spent in compression socks and cozy clothes snuggling (2 hour nap with the baby!) and playing with my family.
I’m heading to bed now and just feeling so thankful.  It is not easy to run 22 miles.  It was SO HARD.  But I did it.  If I had run another 4.2 miles today it would have been a sub-4 hour marathon for me, which would be another PR by over 10 minutes.  I know I can do this at MCM!  I believe it right down to the core of me.  And I have an incredible posse at home who is cheering for me and supporting me and loving me, my crazy running and all.  I feel like the luckiest person on the planet.

10 thoughts on “long run reflections

  1. You are going to blow your PR out of the water! What a great run and in the cold and rain no less. That's amazing-you have to have so much mental strength to run in those conditions, I think.

  2. The rainbow you saw gave me chills. I definitely feel that stuff happens for a reason right down to the song coming on at the end. You are so strong to run those 22 miles by yourself. I so depend on my besties to get me through those long runs. Yay Jess! and you ARE definitely going to PR MCM. I can't wait to read about it.

  3. I LOVE Chipotle, and my kids always accompany my ice baths too. Sometimes they want to climb in when I'm done. Why don't kids mind cold water???

    GREAT WORK on the run. Your marathon will be way different from a solo freezing 22-mile slog, I promise. And you will blast through that PR.

  4. Love this! We had very similar Sundays!!! 🙂 Wish we could have run together.

    You are going to do amazing at MCM. You have done all of the preparation and are SO so ready. GREAT JOB!!

    And I love how supportive your husband is. Mine is the same way and it is such a blessing and is how a husband should be. 🙂 I am so grateful for Josh and love hearing about other happy, supportive marriages. 🙂

  5. Wow— that is fantastic that you powered through when it was so wet and cold. Great job on the pacing. I'm glad you waited to do this run until you were recovered from your other marathon.

  6. I'm so glad you posted all of this. I know you went through a lot to get back into the groove after Gus was born, but sometimes it seems like it all comes so easily to you. Now you're human again… and a fighter and conqueror! Hopefully I'll bump into you on Sat… that'll be me just barely getting through a 5k 🙂

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