I’m spending the Memorial Day weekend and the next few days at my aunts’ and Grandma’s house in the Arkansas Ozarks. I had my last long run of this training season to do, and yesterday was the day I got ‘er done.
The thing with being in the mountains is that when you’re traveling down the road in a car, it doesn’t seem like you’re traveling at all that much of an incline. But running? Oh my. I thought about quitting less than one mile in to my eight-mile run.
It was one of those runs in which I spent just as much time negotiating with myself as running. The negotiations started less than five minutes into the run when I hit the first, and one of the biggest, inclines.
I started up the first hill and the conversation in my head started immediately:
Bad Pam: “It would totally be ok to just do six miles since it’s going to be a challenging run.”
Good Pam: “Successfully completing this challenging run will only make us feel more confident heading into the race.”
Bad Pam: “Oh my goodness, you’re never going to believe this, but I’m pretty sure that according to the training schedule we’re only supposed to do six miles today anyway, how did I think it was eight?”
Good Pam: “How could I have not double-checked the training schedule? Maybe it is only six miles for the last long run!”
Bad Pam: “I’m pretty sure it was only six miles and we wouldn’t wouldn’t want to overtrain.”
Good Pam: “Two extra miles will not kill us.”
Bad Pam: “But these hills just might.”
As I topped the first big hill, I passed the neighbor guy who was walking. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “You ran up that hill? Show off.”
It make me laugh, but then I also realized I couldn’t start walking after just being called a show off so I decided to keep running, at least until I was out of his sight. By the time I was out of his sight, the street had leveled off a bit so I convinced myself to keep running. Then the next hill appeared.
I was thinking of a milestone along the way that I could reach as a short-term goal. I told myself once I reached the stop sign (and, yes, it really is THE stop sign. The only one in the eight-mile drive between the house and town), which I couldn’t remember if it was one and a half or two and a half miles away, I would determine whether to turn around or keep going.
I reached the stop sign and discovered it was two and a half miles, but I convinced myself to keep going. I figured there was no excuse for only doing five miles. The next milestone was the old white, country church. I told myself I would turn around at four miles, or the church, whichever came first. I was pretty confident the church would come first.
I hit the church and the mileage was 3.66 miles. I couldn’t turn around that close to four miles. As I kept running, it dawned on me: there hasn’t been too many downhills during this run. It’s been uphill and then it would level off, not go down. I smiled.
Coming back is going to be a runner’s dream.
At exactly four miles, with Red Hot Chili Peppers playing in my ears, I turned around and immediately started coasting.
I recently read an article about negative splits — runs in which your splits (I measure mine by miles) are less during the second half of the run because, in theory, you have saved your juice for the second half so you can finish strong.
I’m pretty sure there were no juices that had been saved, but my mile splits were a whole minute and a half less than the trip out. It was pure bliss. I just leaned my body forward and let gravity pull my feet forward and I coasted along.
I was so happy I hadn’t turned around earlier.
I usually take the last week before a marathon completely off from running. (Truth be told, I usually take the whole three-week taper period off, but I’m trying to do things right this time). I thought about doing a few short trail runs this week, but if you don’t already know this about me — I’m clumsy and have a tendency to fall. A lot. I’m not taking a chance on a sprained ankle before the race. I’m planning to do a few short hikes instead. That’ll help keep my muscles loose.
And … I also plan to carb load. My favorite part of every marathon preparation. 🙂