This is a picture of me and my brother-in-law Kevin after doing a 17 mile run last Saturday. The fact that I could get up at 6:30 a.m. while on vacation to do a big fat run like that is pretty huge for me! I can think back on countless vacations where I packed my workout clothes and tennis shoes with noble intentions of exercising, only to have them sit and take up space in my suitcase never to be used. Not this time though!
It helped that my brother in law is a runner too and is training for his 2nd marathon in October. Since I knew we'd be visiting them over a weekend where I needed to do at least a 16 miler I called in advance and told him to prepare! I didn't give him a lot of time to get ready but even though his most recent long run was 8 miles, he's in such good shape that 17 was no problem. I'm sure it helped that we were doing a nice easy pace of 9:30 minute miles. (He ran his first marathon in 3:40, which is just over an 8:20 minute mile)
Anyway, the run was great! We ran around a nature preserve near their house in the suburbs of Chicago. We did about a 10 mile loop and then ran back in for 3.5 miles and back out to give us 17 miles. There were a lot of people on the trails and it was fun seeing everything from serious runners to joggers, bikers, hikers and walkers. I ran with the fuel belt and we also stashed some water bottles so we had no problem staying hydrated. We faithfully took our gels every hour and even stopped for a potty break after mile 6. The first 10 miles really flew by. The second half of our run had a lot of hills and by the time we were coming back I was feeling it in my quads and calves. At the very end of the course was a pretty decent hill. Nothing too crazy but after running for over 2 hours it looked like Everest to me. Kevin started doing this little "aye aye aye aye!" yelling chant to pump us up. He took the fuel belt to lighten my load and I used my mind to will my tired legs to the top! At first I was mad at him for picking a course with so many hills at the end. But when we finished I have to say it felt so awesome to push so hard and feel like we conquered it!
I can also tell that I'm getting stronger because my legs didn't hurt as bad and my lower back didn't kill (which it usually does after a long run.) Kevin has this neat-o massage stick that we rolled on our quads and I think that helped too. That afternoon we did A LOT of walking in downtown Chicago and by the end of the day I was a lot more sore than I was after the run. Still, I feel like I'm improving and hopefully if I can stay on course and keep doing what I'm doing I'll be ready when it's go time.