I set out early... too early in fact. The first 7 miles were done while it was still dark. Most were on a paved path, and the few parts that were not, I knocked the pace back and was careful. The really eerie thing about running in the dark is that critters are everywhere and my LED light on the hat, really magnifies their eyes. I would clap loudly as I saw one in my path and decided if they did not move, I would turn around. THANKFULLY, they all scatter at the sound of my claps. I came across deer, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, and even a cat (couldn't tell if it was black or not).
I have been reading a book about training my mind as much as training my body, so I decided to take a hint and break the 18 mile run up into 6 mile increments and to only focus on those 6 miles. The first 6 were the scariest since it was pitch black. I did not come across any other runners out there. I felt strong, but my average pace was between 9:15 and 9:30, with mile 2 at 9:47 because this is where some of the path was not paved and I could not see where I was placing my feet. I did not want to twist my ankle, in the dark, on mile 2, so I took it easy.
The second 6 got a little easier. I started to see more runners, enjoy the scenery since the sun had risen, and I felt strong. I decided to turn around at mile 10 and take a slightly different route home.
Turning around REALLY boosted my spirits, I felt like I really could do this. At mile 11, I put my iPod in and started to jam. While jamming I noticed that my breathing was heavier and looked at my Garmin to see an 8:15 pace at mile 13... WHAT? I felt good, but decided to back down. I was AMAZED at how the tunes really helped my cadence and I was nearing the end. At mile 16, I had to go up a long stretch that was about a 1/2 mile straight up a hill. Usually, I can barely maintain a 9:30 pace up this hill and most recently, walked most of it. I averaged 8:47 up the hill on Saturday. I have NO IDEA how, but I just was excited. Having only 2 miles left, I decided I would try to maintain my pace and watch my form.
I am not going to lie and say the last 6 were easy. They were tough. But the confidence of averaging a 8:30 pace for the last 5 was really pumping me up. Mile 17 flew by and as I was heading home, I started to tear up. I was so doubtful that I was going to be able to run 18 miles by myself. And obviously, I was cruising. I ran and even picked it up on the last 1/4 of a mile (typically where TG challenges me to pick it up). All in all 18.14 miles in 2:47. Last week I did 16 in 2:31. NOT BAD!
This Saturday, I am running 22 miles with my steadfast partner, Bob! That's right - Bob is coming into town. And while I am running 22, TG and at least 3 other DCTRI MoCo members will be competing in Patriots Half IM in Williamsburg. I am uber jealous and so want to be there supporting them. But running with Bob after a 4 month hiatus will be just as EPIC!
Here are my stats for August:
Running: 154 (up from 81 in July)
Cycling: 15 (down from 64 in July)
Swimming: 3 (same as July)
Walking: 4 (down from 5 in July)
Total Mileage for August: 176 (up from 153 last month)
Total Mileage so far for 2011: 1645 miles
How was your long run?