In Nov. 2009 I ran 18 miles for the first time. It's a distance I haven't done a whole lot. I've surpassed it several times but I think I've run exactly 18 miles (give or take a .2) four times. Before Sunday anyway.
I've run four marathons. Notice a pattern? Yeah, only time to run 18 miles (for me) is when training for a marathon.
Sunday I ran an 18-miler for the fifth time ever. Now, I'm writing this a few hours after having completed it, I still have white stuff on my face from sweat and I haven't even taken a shower (TMI, but I like to keep it real here). But I'm trying to compare it to my other 18-mile runs. I don't know, I can't say that I feel super strong. The run went great, it really did, but as far as feeling like I feel after 12-15 milers... not there. Part of me thought that running all these miles I've been running would have given me strength like I've not had before, but while my legs were able to push through stuff, I still was gassed at the finish.
Maybe it's just my body mentally preparing for getting to the end of my run, and since it was 18 miles my body had exactly 18 miles in it. Had I run 16 or 20, perhaps I'd have felt the same.
Okay, well I don't mean to be a downer so I'll get on with this post...
One area that was better was after the run. I wasn't gassed to the point where I just had to collapse on the ground or that I was a useless blob after the race (although I do plan on taking a mean nap here as soon as I finish this post). And I've been walking around and I actually feel a bit of a bounce in my step.
Thanks to the wonders of Dailymile I have the times of all my runs sans my first one. But, well, my first one is probably the most memorable training run of my life and certainly the toughest training run I've ever done. So I remember that time.
11/22/09 - 18 miles, 3:18:00 (11-minute pace)
5/16/10 - 18 miles, 3:02:10 (10:07 pace)
12/19/10 - 18.21 miles, 3:12:00 (10:32 pace)
3/06/11 - 18 miles, 3:08:05 (10:26 pace)
1/08/12 - 18 miles, 2:59:25 (9:58 pace)
I remember feeling good after my second-ever 18-miler. I was training for the 2010 San Francisco Marathon so I was running a lot of hills at the time and I think that made a big difference. The only thing that tarnished that run was all the blood (my blog post about it, with picture).
And as for my toughest-ever run, I did in Seattle. In rain and 40-degree weather. A truly memorable run.
Sunday's run was the third I've run on the Loper course so perhaps that's why these other two runs stand out, since I didn't run them on the usual course.
I'm happy with my run and I'm happy with the work I've put in. Part of why I've wanted to ramp up my training was to be able to not just get through these really long runs but do them in a manner that will benefit all of the other runners in my pace group. And I think I did that with this run.
Okay, off to nap now.