This was my first weekend of LONG training for Dopey Challenge! And nothing prepares you mentally for a LONG long run like the weather channel forecasting 100% rain during the exact 5 hours you expect to be out. I wasn’t looking forward to running that long in the rain, I didn’t want to either. But the alternative of changing my run days wasn’t an option either. I sort of knew what the answer would be and I didn’t want to sound wimpy either. So I prepped myself for a wet (and cold … brrr) long run hoping that the wind would stay away.
I think this was a mental test for me from the Weather Gods! To see if I would shy away. And when I did not, I passed the test, and the forecast changed from 100% rain to 0% rain in about 4 hours!
Not only that, I also found 2 other runners to start with me at 5:30am. Joy and Laura are in training for their 100 milers and did not mind how slow I went. And then elaborate plans were made to meet up with other friends so I’d have company for most or all of the 20 miles, especially the last 5 miles.
The first 2 hours were fairly uneventful – 1 mile warmup and 8 miles of 13:30 in the dark before I took a break for AVC Endurance’s run clinic. We had an hour of great drills and all my little muscle groups screaming “hello!!” to me.
It was a good session and it was always nice to see friends, but to be honest, I was worried about the remaining 11 miles at that point – those drills were tough (to me) and I still had 55% of my run. The clinic was a tad longer than I’d anticipated, so my friends that I’d recruited for help came by before the clinic was done. I wasn’t looking forward to the last 5 miles alone; even though Mike said I wasn’t really alone, I had voices in my head to keep me company!
But I’d tackle that when I came to it – there were 6 more miles to be run before I got to the last 5. And just like old times, the group of Barry & Ajit (who’d come at 7:30 and run about 6 miles instead of the clinic), Dawn (who came by at 8:00 only to get roped in to the drills), Beth (perfect timing to start at 9:00, although she was my last 5 miles company) and Joy along with me, set out together.
This time my pace was 7 miles at 13:00 and after about 4 of those miles, I was talking a little less as Beth noticed and said she was slightly worried about me. Nothing easy about running at a pace I don’t run at during my heart rate runs after 13-14 miles with drills in between. It wasn’t my body however, my mind was already at the last few lonely miles I’d have to do.
That was when I was blown away by the amazingness of people.
Beth stayed to do more miles than she had planned. Shawna and Jim had finished up their run, but they offered to run my remaining miles with me. They are both way faster than me and I was a little hesitant to accept. But desperate miles calls for friends and we set off.
Conversation and laughs flowed during the first couple of those miles. When Beth turned around, I had a little less than 4 miles at 12:30 to go. The beginning of those 12:30 miles wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t talking too much though, trying to focus. Shawna was doing a GREAT job of distracting me from the “why” “why not” conversation in my head! I bet poor Jim did not anticipate getting stuck with rambling girls 🙂
I only remember one dominant thought in my head for the last 2 miles – “Wow! How are my legs even running?!”
Before I knew it, I was at 19.57 miles and singing “Just around the Riverbend” from Pocahontas when Shawna asked when I was going to turn around (We had gone out for a short half a mile out and back to make it 20 even miles). And I was done!
(Although ‘Colors of the Wind’ is my favorite song from Pocahontas, I love how this song is more reflective of me always wondering what’s around the river bend.)
20 miles in 4hrs 30min. With a heavy dosage of run drills thrown in for 1hr in between.
Mr. FauxTriathlete and the minions came by *just* as we finished the 20 miles. Armed with donuts!
Sadly, the rest of the day wasn’t as fun as the morning – something I ate for lunch didn’t agree with my stomach and I spent the afternoon either curled up or throwing up. Luckily, it seemed to be a momentary thing and nothing major. Knowing that I had to run the next day for another 2.5 hours (about 9-10 miles at my HR zones), I took my first ice bath in 20 years, and fortified myself with some tart cherry juice.
Mr. FauxTriathlete was NOT pleased when I told him of my plans to run long the next day too. Oh well … a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
After a late night, I stumbled into the parking lot half asleep to find some awesomely cheerful friends on the bike (Mike and Fred) and run (Shawna, Sarah and Stephanie). I started my run half asleep and continued to snooze through it until Beth joined me for the last hour.
And then I realized that for the first time …
I felt confident about the race. I felt ready. My mind wasn’t even there, but my legs were running by themselves on autopilot. None of the whining and groaning that I used to do on a back-t0-back run was needed. Stiff legs, yes. But legs that knew exactly what was expected even without mind telling it.
And not just the Dopey Challenge, but whatever is coming afterwards (Augusta 70.3). I’m confident that I can put my best foot forward.
Almost 30 miles in 2 days. Something of a training for 48.6 miles in 4 days.
Also for #TeamLeonardo in support of Leonardo, who is undergoing week 1 of chemo. Which puts the effort of my weekend miles in perspective. Easy to run miles upon miles. Harder to keep the fight up to Chemo.
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