For this season, today we ran my greatest distance yet. The grand plan had been to do a six mile run, three out and then back. We took the car toward town to map out the turnaround point and both of us grew more and more anxious as we drove further and further outside of town. I began to say, Oh No! We don’t have to go down That road (the road we used to turn down for ten milers) do we?! and OH NO! We don’t have to go PAST that road, do we?! We did. Way past.
Somewhere along the drive, after dropping the mail in town, we both came to realize that six miles were going to be several miles too many. We did a little work in the garden, then hit the road. In that order, because we knew we’d never make it into the garden after we finished running.
We ran to town. Originally I’d planned for us to make a pit stop on our way back through town to grab a sports drink. It wound up being our turnaround point. I managed to run the greatest distance I’ve run without stopping this season and then the greatest distance I’ve run this season. I was proud. Some of it was incredibly hard, even though it was a long, slow run and we took full advantage of that description. My legs were like lead the entire return trip. The distance was four miles with few hills, but I felt every one of them.
Tomorrow is declared a rest day, partly because the last three workouts have been hard and I’m very sore, partly because I should be rewarded for overcoming my mental barriers in a tiny way. And my left foot has started complaining loudly. Three miles seem to have been all it would endure on my behalf.
Let me just add a bit on long, slow running. There is a pace at which, even though it is faster, feels far better than going slow. Unfortunately, until I’m in better shape, it is very hard to maintain. Slow runs become a battle between trying to restrain myself and trying to keep up. Brutal. Going slow feels like running through thick liquid and like slacking. It is most painful mentally, because I can see I’m barely chugging along and I WILL NEVER FINISH. At a specific point, slow runs begin to be even harder physically because I don’t have the momentum of faster movement to help propel me forward. I hate them.
As a runner, I gain a strange new superpower- I can detect every minor grade in the roadway, every small incline, every hill, each uneven patch of pavement. And then they haunt me, torment me, laugh in my face. I remember from seasons prior, that lovely, magical point which comes without warning where I fly up the hills and barely notice them. I’m hanging on to that memory by my fingernails.