Monday, March 21, 2011

Tracking My Long Run

After having had some time to process Sunday's 20-miler, I feel just as good about it now, on Monday morning, as I did when I finished it. Physically, I have that good leg soreness, the kind that lets me know I put in some hard work the day before. Mentally, I have faith that I can do this upcoming marathon and perhaps even do it well.

I credit the high school track.

Now, this was always going to be a solo run. Since most of my running buddies were running the LA Marathon, I was set to fend this long run all alone. And twice during my training for the San Francisco Marathon, I faced similar circumstances for 20-milers. I vowed never again to run 20 miles by myself (talk about lonely) but had no choice on Sunday.

However, I figured out a way to stay close to home and still get my miles in - just log some miles in on the track.

I went the really long way to the track - ran a quick 3.8 miles out and back home, then went the really long way to the school. By the time I got to the track I was at Mile 8. I needed to get to at least 17 before heading home.

The first 8 miles went by quickly. Part of it was the thinking "How many miles can I get in before I reach the track?" I mean, I didn't exactly go the long way by mistake. Eight was great in my eyes. I hit the track running but I wanted to be smart about it. The thing that frightened me about the track was having to run so many laps. It's simple math, of course - one mile equals four laps, so nine miles meant 36 laps. Ugh. But I had an idea - what if I ran on the furthest outside lane? Would that make a difference?

It was nice at first to get off the streets and the track was lonely, which helped. After I hit Mile 11, Mrs. LB and the girls showed up. While it had been cloudy all morning, it didn't actually start raining until they were there, so they lasted until I hit Mile 13. But that gave me some renewed energy, especially since the girls tried running some parts of it with me.

Every time I hit the next mile, I celebrated. I'd clap, extend my arms to my sides or raise them over my head. I smiled a lot, throughout the run.

I got to 17 miles and decided to get to 18, since that would mean a more direct shot home. Once I hit 18, I went back on the street and, believe it or not, missed the track. I had gotten to the point where my mind wasn't wandering or thinking about anything but the next corner. It was like the treadmill without the "dread." I was a machine, not a fast one, but one that was chewing up and spitting out miles with regularity.

Throughout my time on the track, I straddled the number eight lane. And it worked. I did not keep track of how many laps I ran but it was not quite four laps per mile. It actually wasn't even close to four laps per mile.

On the street I had to contend with cars and sidewalks and dogs and traffic lights... sigh.

When I hit 20 miles, I was a couple of blocks from home. I stopped, raised my arms high over my head and smiled. Whereas I cried (yes, I cried) after my last solo 20-miler, sometime last June, this time I was more than happy with my feat.

I suppose I could gain confidence from just having run a marathon, since I did run one on Feb. 6. But I feel as if I need to prove myself during this training cycle that I can be in position to run another one here soon. If I rely on what I did in Surf City then I will come in overconfident and under-trained, and that's a horrible combination.

Now, though, I know I will be able to get the marathon done. I may not PR but I know I will be mentally strong when I get to Mile 22, 23, 24, etc. Running 20 miles solo, and 10 of those miles on a track, will do that for you.


Willoughby said...

I loved the commentary feel of this post! It made me feel like I was right there, running with you (well, maybe just driving along behind you). Congrats on another 20 miler!

tahoegirl said...

You are freaking amazing!!

I love that Mrs. LB and the girls came out.

Did Angie run LA?

Anonymous said...

20 miles on the track? My respect for you as a runner just increased tenfold. For me the track is even worse than the treadmill, on which I did my long run (14 miles) due to the rain. It was long to say the least :-)

Jim ... 50after40 said...

Love your comment about the soreness - I can always tell from a long run how I'm progressing in my training!

Michael said...

Awesome job. I love that the kids came by to give you some motivation....that has to help :) You will ROCK your next marathon. I think I will cry when I run my first 20 - because it will probably also be solo - I'm just to slow to run with anyone :)

R Hacker said...

Congratulations - that's huge! And the way you described it, I felt like I was there. I can not imagine running 20 miles at all, let alone so many on a track. You're truly an inspiration!

Katie A. said...

You are a rockstar in my book! Running 10 miles on a H.S. track is insane! Funny, cuz you think me running on the treamill for 20 is insane! LOL!
You did great! And I KNOW this is exactly what you needed to propell you into a solid performance at the marathon. Don't sell yourself short, you may walk away with a time you weren't expecting - race day can bring anything, and by anyting, I mean something great!
Glad running is going better, keep the speedwork up, it always pays dividends!