I did it. I ran 8.17 miles today, officially now the longest run of my life. As I sit down to write about the experience, my mind is racing and I don't know where to start. During my run, I thought about writing one of those longer posts and have some thoughts in italics and all that good stuff... actually, I thought about a lot of things during my run... but I think I'll save that for the 10-miler. I don't want to have to do that every run from now on since I'll be running longer distances now with each and every run than I have in my life, and that's a time-consuming method or writing... fun, but time-consuming.
Anyway, you don't want to read about my thought processes, you want to hear about my run. First and foremost, I'm glad I did it. I'm glad I set out to run eight miles and that I went through with it. There were so many things going against me this morning that I easily could have not ran it and could have been justified. For starters, I woke up at 1:48 a.m (yes, one in the morning) and couldn't go back to sleep. My stomach has been bothering me for the last week or so, and this morning it was bothersome. I took some tums and that helped. Then, it rained here last night pretty hard but this morning the rain went away. It was still cloudy but not raining. Still, none of that made me feel like scrapping the run. I'd focused on going so I simply followed through with those plans.
Still, things did not go off without a hitch. I put on my watch and heart-rate monitor strap, my Garmin and iPod and got my shoes on. However, the power had gone out on our street so I was dealing that and trying to close the garage door manually. After a few minutes doing that, I stretched and set off. The only thing I forgot was to put vaseline on my nipples. Wow. Last time I do that.
I felt great early on. I felt fantastic. Miles one and two were relatively simple and three and four weren't bad either. Having the Garmin helped tremendously because I knew exactly how long I was in and wasn't guessing or trying to figure out or remember landmarks or anything. I knew when I was 5.51 miles in because the Garmin said 5.51 miles.
I felt really good until after I got to about seven miles or so, probably a little before. My legs felt a little tight, and I tried to extend them by speeding up a bit but I was stuck at that pace so that was a no-go.
My heart rate hovered just under 170 for most of the run, which is good. I like to run right around 170 but usually I'm on the other side of 170; that is, usually I'm pushing my body to get to 170 and stay there but after seven miles or so, I was at 170 whether I wanted to or not. That was encouraging though. Had I been close to 180, I would have been close to hitting the wall. 180 and above for me is kind of the rarified air, and I can only stay there for a few minutes at a time at best. If I'm running and I get to and stay at or above 180, I'm gassed. I actually averaged 168 for my run and maxed out at 181 so that was very good. That gives me a solid base to start off with.
When I crossed the eight-mile mark I felt good. Physically I wasn't done, far from it, but I was exhausted. I felt good though knowing that I had met the first of several daunting challenges I'll face in the next 12 weeks or so. I kept on to the end of the street I was on and walked about five minutes more to get back home.
Now, about my Vaseline... I felt the pain in the third mile. It was slight and more discomfort at first than anything. But around the sixth mile I knew it was going to sting later. When I finally got home and took off my shirt, my nipple was red... well, just the end of it. Stupidly, I sprayed some neosporin on it and after a few moments of agony and about 15 swear words the pain subsided. I have a band-aid on one right now (a SpongeBob band-aid, hehe) but I can still feel the pain. I guess I won't forget to add that to my pre-run preparations anymore.
Overall, the run was great but I was left with a couple of conclusions. First, I could have ran more. I could have made it a nine-mile run, I'm certain. That's encouraging. Also, though, I felt a bit... I don't know, discouraged is not the right word but certainly I feel that as much as I accomplished today and as much as I learned about myself, I still have a long way to go. A long way. I haven't yet run 10 miles and I have seven of those runs to do from now until the half-marathon itself. A lot more sweat and tears and blood (hopefully none on the nips) will be shed from now until April 19.
Still, if I approach every run like I did today (and I wasn't in my optimum condition today either, I actually fell asleep while typing this out) I will slowly come to and overcome each obstacle. I just have to keep my focus.
Today then was ultimately a pretty good start.