So, with all our preparations we set out to conquer our longest run yet. I was pumped in the beginning and Taber had to keep reminding me to slow down. I finally got into a good rhythm and we went through the first hour just chatting and enjoying the beautiful view by the lake. After an hour we practiced taking our gels while running. A little tricky but we got them down. Then like I mentioned, I needed a potty break. There are outhouses on the trail so I stopped at one and Taber timed me, 1 minute, not too bad! I felt much better after that and the next 6 miles were great. When we reached 13.1 miles Taber checked our time and pace and announced that we had just finished a half marathon distance in 2 hours and 4 minutes. I totally started hooting and hollaring in celebration on the trail! YEAH! I shouted! I feel awesome!!!
2 miles later that awesome feeling went away. 15 miles were behind us but now my quads were starting to burn and my knees! Oh my aching knees! We left the lake trail and headed back towards the streets. We had to stop at a traffic light and when I stopped all my muscles just locked up. I tried to jog in place but the pain was so bad! The light was still red so I tried stretching a little, OWIE!!! When it turned green we starting jogging again and every step felt like torture. My lower back started to ache, my quads were on fire and my knees felt like they were going to give out at any minute. I looked over at Taber to see if he felt the same way but he was just galloping away like a happy horse. That's when I kind of started to panic. With two miles to go I just kind of lost control mentally and started really doubting myself. "I can't do this! I can't do it!" I kept thinking. I started groaning and jabbering my negative thoughts out loud and Taber told me to get my head back in the game and focus.
"I can't do it!"I blurted out on the verge of tears.
"Yes you can, just do what you've done for the last 16 miles, relax your shoulders, find a steady breathing pattern, unclench your fists and put one foot in front of the other."
Taber kept coaching me through, helping me focus and relax and I finally got back into a rhythm. In our Marathon training book it talks about the pain you experience at the end of a long run. The author refers to it as a "friendly pain" HAHA! nice friend! Still, I kept chanting "it's a friendly pain, it's a frienldy pain" Over and over during that last mile to get me through. With about a half a mile to go I started realizing that I was really going to do it. I could see the end in sight and I was going to make it! I picked up the pace and ran hard (well, as hard as I could in my worn down state) till the sensor showed 18 miles and Taber said we had finished!
I gave one big celebratory hoot and then I limped over to the trail to cool down and stretch. Every step hurt, my knees and lower back giving me the most complaints. Still, I coudn't deny the giddy sense of accomplishment I felt for achieving our goal.
I would also like to take this moment to say that Taber is AWESOME and the best running coach in the world. I definitely couldn't have finished without him by my side and I'm so glad he's decided to run with me during the marathon, even though I'm sure it will slow him down. That's true love for you right there! ; )
Lessons learned from our run yesterday:
1) Pacing is huge! When we slowed down for this run it made it so much more do-able.
2) I really need to step up my cross training! I think my knees and back will appreciate it if I cross train more consistently so they won't be tortured so much on these long runs.
3) I have to stay mentally focused. My body can do this, I just need to stay positive and not lose sight of the goal.
4) Taber is the best running partner in the world : )
The icing on the cake was that Taber surprised me by scheduling an hour and 1/2 full body massage that night for my mother's day present! HEAVEN!!! Today I'm really not that sore (except for my knees) and I swear it's because of that massage!
So there you have it. Next week is our half Marathon. I'll keep you posted on how it all goes!