My first long run of 2013 was a pretty good one, and pretty long too. I ran 18 miles on the first Sunday of the year. I think this will be the case as long as I'm A) with the Lopers and/or B) train for the LA Marathon each year.
Anyway, I won't get into all the pre/during/post run details of it, but do want to get in some of the highlights here.
Of course, the day before the run I alternated between feeling very confident of the run to feeling anxious about it. I slept alright, woke up only a couple of times and didn't feel (too much) dread when I was getting ready Sunday morning.
The skies were supposed to open up on us, but we only got a smattering of rain. By Mile 4, there was no signs of rain clouds and by Mile 5 the sun had peered through the clouds, enough to give us hope that the rain would not come back (and it didn't).
Part of the fun of being a pace leader is that I get to choose which way I want to take my group. Sunday I decided to take them into Redlands. This meant hills but no matter. I knew the last little stretch would be flat. Some of the other runners were commenting on how nice it was to go on a bit of an adventure, on an uncharted run so to speak. Of course I'd mapped it out but still it felt like we were just cutting through the streets of Redlands as we saw fit.
The hills were a bit relentless and I thought this might separate our group but it didn't. By the time we got through the worst of them, we were still together for the most part. There were two distinct groups - a group of four running in front of us, us (six runners led by yours truly) and a straggler or two to boot. I wasn't sure if I should count the stragglers as a group...
Anyway, by the time were at Miles 12 and 13, we were out of Redlands, back in Loma Linda and my legs were starting to feel good. Something internally happened to get my legs up to full strength and by the time we were on the home stretch, the final three miles, I was grand. We were running at a solid 9:30-9:50 pace. The last mile, we were hovering around the 9:10-9:30 pace.
But our pace didn't matter much as it wasn't what we'll remember most about the run. The run was great because we'd enjoyed each other's company, had enjoyed some tremendous weather after the early drizzles and were all sort of excited just to have been out there, running. We were an indestructible group plowing through city streets, residential roads and dirt trails at times. We'd run 18 miles and we all felt great, high-fiving and congratulating each other at the finish.
It's runs like that that keep me going. If I could bottle up that feeling I felt during the run, I'd pump some of it into my system whenever I needed a boost.