Since joining the Loma Linda Lopers, I've become accustomed to running with others. It may be as little as two others, but two others is not alone, and I don't often run my long runs alone.
Over the weekend, I was faced with a bit of a quandary. I could go to Loma Linda and meet up with my running friends, or I could run alone. It was only this way because most of the Lopers who have been going to run on Sundays since the end of the season ran the LA Marathon. They were going to run probably 6-8 miles, and I wanted to run 13-15. I didn't want to get thrown off so I figured a solo run was in order.
I think the last time I ran double-digit miles alone was on New Year's Day when I ran 10 miles. It wasn't that I was doubting my ability to get out there and run but it certainly was different preparing for a solo run. I remembered last year, before my half marathon, when I would just scrap runs before I ever got out there. It's different for me when I'm accountable to others. Maybe the Lopers wouldn't necessarily track me down if I stopped showing up but I'd feel like I'd be letting a lot of people down if I didn't go. And when it's just me, so what if I let myself down? At least, that's how I used to think.
Sunday morning was tough. On Saturday, I got home from work about 1:20 a.m.so that actually makes it Sunday morning, and I didn't go to be right away. I slept until 6:22. I had the Oh-you-don't-really-need-to-run feeling I got a last year, but shook it off immediately. I didn't shoot out of bed but rather took my time in getting up and getting my stuff together.
But I got up and got dressed and went out for a run. The toughest part is getting out the door, and I did that. I showed to myself that, if need be, I could train for a marathon alone. I'd rather not, would rather run with my Loper friends, but if it came down to it I could. Yeah, it might be tough, but I could do it. The solo runs I did before Surf City were one-off runs mostly, and I always felt like I needed their support, and I was grateful for it.
When stripped of my support group, though, I went on what was probably my toughest run since Surf City. It was 14 miles, but tougher than the other 14-miler I did because I went this one alone. But also, I tried to run at a bit of a faster pace than normal. The first two miles were more than 10-minute miles but since I ran over The Hill, I wasn't surprised or upset or anything. Once I got my legs underneath me, I felt good. Of the final 12 miles, all were in the 9-minute range save until Mile 10, which was back up the other side of The Hill. Mile 10 was 10:36, then I threw in an 8:26 mile since it was downhill and I felt like not slowing down.
But I got to Mile 12 and got that done in 10:29. At this point I wasn't sure if I could get to 14 as strong as I wanted to but I just reached down and made myself run hard and didn't let myself slow down. Mile 13 was 9:18 and Mile 14 was 9:27.
I certainly felt the run later in the day - sore legs mostly - but it was a good feeling. I finished with a 9:51 overall pace, and while that won't help me break get my sub-2 hour half marathon (Run Through Redlands is now less than three weeks away!) it will help me PR, and I'm still confident I can give 2:00:00 a good run for its money there.
After all, good runs provide such confidence and motivation.