Let me just say that I'm still on a runner's high from yesterday's 14 miler! Here's my total breakdown of the run. It is incredibly long and maybe boring to others, but I'm so excited to relive the details of my best run to date!
Yesterday, my running group was meeting at 7am for our long run. I had 14 on the schedule and typically the people in my pace group don't run more than 10, so I decided to arrive at 6am and get in 4 miles before the class started.
This way, I could start earlier which I prefer when it's cool and not humid and end earlier since I had an afternoon wedding to go to yesterday. Also, if I run 4 solo miles before class, I'd run 10 with the group to get my 14 in as opposed to running 10 with the group and then adding on 4 solo miles - I thought this way would be tougher.
When I arrived in Ann Arbor at 6am, it was still very dark. I had planned on running 2 of our usual 2 mile loops, but they were through some residential areas that I wasn't sure were lit up well. So, being a scaredy-cat, I opted to run up and down Main Street instead, as it was very illuminated. As soon as I started, I saw a bunch of Wanted signs on the downtown businesses. I had completely forgot about these two men that were attacking women in the late night/early morning hours for the past couple weeks (mostly on the way home from bars).
Yikes! I contemplated just going back to my car and waiting for class to begin at 7am, but I had an hour to kill and 4 miles to squeeze in. So, I literally ran up and down Main Street in the very-lit part being super-aware of my surroundings. I was very careful on the corners to take them wide in case someone was on the other side and uber-aware of all the little spots a person could be hiding in to jump out at me.
As freaked out as I was, it really made those first 4 miles fly by as I wasn't looking at my garmin at all! Overall I finished the first 4 miles in 45 minutes and then met the group at the store to get our routes for the day.
We headed out the door at 7am for a ten miler. Everyone in my pace range was doing ten yesterday, so I was really happy to have finished my 4 before class. The cool thing about today's run was that there were about 12 people in our group that stayed together for the entire run! Typically, if I run with my usual running buddy, Patti, we're off in our own world, just her and I. Yesterday was nice in that there were a variety of people to catch up with chat with and pick their brains.
The first 4 miles with the group (miles 4-8 for me) went very smooth and then we hit some hills. The good news is that with a group, I feel like I should always keep going and not separate too much. So, I pushed through and kept going. Overall, this run started out faster than our usual long run pace, but I felt I could keep it up.
I tried GU chomps on watermelon for the first time today. 4 chomps after my first 4 miles and then 4 more chomps at mile 9. They tasted pretty good and seemed to keep my fueled the entire time. I was never hungry which is rare for me - typically by mile 10, my stomach starts rumbling for real food and that was a pleasant surprise not to happen.
We extended our course a bit to go out 8 and then directly back to the store for the last two miles which sounded great to me. There's something about the simplicity of a straight route with minimal turns at the end that keeps me going mentally. I like to visualize where we're going a couple miles up and I can't typically do that at the beginning of our long runs as a lot of the routes are new to me. But having the last 3 miles easily mapped out in my head is really helpful.
I felt pretty good the whole run and my group was awesome to check up on my here and there knowing that I had extra mileage in the morning. The 12 running partners really kept me going and it was nice to pair up with someone new after each water break.
I was having no troubles throughout this run and then at mile 12, I really started feeling GREAT. I don't know what came over me, but the fact that the end was in sight (mentally) and I was still feeling so good really pumped me up. I also glanced down at my garmin, did some quick math and realized that I was on a roll to not only kick ass finishing this whole run, but very possibly beat my best half marathon time.
As mile 12 came and went, we were on a straightaway that was slightly downhill. I comfortably picked it up and kept watching until the glorious 13.1 had shown on my watch. When it did, I looked down and saw 2:28:33!! HOLY CRAP!! I DID IT! It's been an inside goal of mine to finish a half under 2:30 and this is the first time I successfully did so! I've completed three half marathons and my best time is 2:33:53 and I nailed it by 5.5 minutes!! Success and totally counts in my book!\
I was so excited and continued to push through to complete the 14 miles. I've never run further than a half marathon so I wasn't sure if my legs would just stop after that distance or what, but they carried me - almost in a floating-like way - to complete the full 14 miles and it felt AMAZING!
I can not express in words how great this run felt and how much confidence I've gained going into it and also coming out of it! I feel like I'm where I want to be and DAMN PROUD of it!! Overall, my average pace for these 14 miles was 11:21 - a FULL MINUTE faster that our typical Saturday long runs! Clearly, I needed this run to show myself that I can do it!
Thank you all for your support through my running adventures of the past year and a half and I'm so excited to see what's next!!