20 miles later and here I am still glowing. After an entire summer of training and planning. Overcoming personal obstacles and making the effort and time to stick to the regiment has not been easy, but my challenge of 20 miles on a solo run was met. I’ve ran this far before, and I’ve ran a marathon before, but this was something new. It was after several years of losing my running groove, my confidence in running, and overall health and fitness. With a full time job, two teenagers, a toddler, and a busy life it was not easy. I made the commitment and I set the goal of 20 miles on a solo run and I did it.
Planning, Preparing and Training
Weeks leading up were met with problems. I had a pretty badly bruised metatarsal, the temperatures and humidity were not cooperating and feeling more like July than September, and we’d been quite busy with family and life obligations. The feet problems were superficial so it was a matter of overcoming the discomfort, which is something with long distance running you adjust to and becomes a part of your regiment. What really became a concern was my own psyche. The week before I had terrible anxiety and fear. It was affecting my day to day life, sleep, and diet.
Suddenly I was back to square one. Then, a day before with a pep talk from my running sister, some faith from my hubby, and remembering my running Dad telling me again and again that I’ve done the training a switch turned on in my head. But I was here and I was ready.
Wisdom Was A Payoff
Holding off one extra day was the smart choice. I had not been feeling well and I needed sleep and recovery. This is where wisdom, knowing your body, and evaluating the scenario objectively can be a game changer. I have allowed myself that flexibility all year and as long as it gets done it doesn’t matter the how or the when. That day I did recover. I relaxed and I closed my eyes and visualized the run all day. By day end I knew I was ready. Started the morning about 40 minutes later than planned (this happened a lot over the summer). This meant I’d be spending way more time in the sun than I had hoped for. A bit more luck gave way to an overcast start, though it was incredibly muggy. In fact, one of the most humid days of the summer.
People constantly question my choice to run at the hottest points of the day during the summer, and sub zero in the winter and this is exactly why. It takes awhile for your body to adjust to any element if it’s conditioned a certain way. Ten degrees and humidity can ruin you if you aren’t prepared physically for it. I spent my weekday runs in the heat pushing speed in short distances so I knew I could manage the long hot and humid mornings, and it made ALL the difference in my summer training. I got used to it. It’s still miserable, but I was ready for it.
20 Miles Later
I set out in the dark with my head lamp and made some choices to bring less gear and have lower weight. It was a gamble, but it paid off. I brought some cash in case I needed more water or anything else. I’d be passing gas stations on my way out to Hines so there were options. I spent 10 miles on Hines (a parkway drive and path) and 10 miles on the road. Hines has several bathrooms and lots of woods and rolling hills. I thankfully used a bathroom once (so again I didn’t need to pack my toiletries) at mile 8 and felt a million times better.
The sun was coming up and I was cruising along. I was numb to most of my discomfort and I just kept my pace steady. Once I turned around back I became focused. Even so I was still relaxed taking it a mile at a time, passing familiar locations, and finally some more runners. At mile 14 a girl was running in front of me and I got the competitive spirit and passed her on the biggest hill of my run. It turned out to be my fastest mile.
Once I was back on the main road the sun was covered by massive dark clouds, but they brought no rain. I was getting lucky. The sun didn’t peak out until I was on the home stretch with only two miles left. I struggled bringing it in with my pace nearly a minute slower than the rest of my run had been, but victory was within reach and I was nearly there.
I stopped my clock in front of my house where my husband was waiting with a huge high five. My toddler was jumping up and down excited, as is his general reaction when I return from my runs and I cheered. I felt the victory, not just from the physical feat, but from everything I’d done all year. All the time, the effort, the mental battles, and all of the wisdom and strength I gained on this journey washed over me like a tidal wave. It felt incredible. I felt like there was nothing in this world I couldn’t do.
Sometimes after a big race, or important training is done you feel a sense of depression. What will you work towards or for? It’s something I struggle immensely with, but I already had a 2019 goal in mind, and I had already prepared a fall/winter training regiment to hop on immediately. So now I begin another journey, and continue to work and push myself physically so I can be strong mentally. I’m going to constantly keep trying to do more and be relentless in pursuit of my goals and the things I want in my life. Running gives me that strength, that faith in myself that nothing else ever has. Stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself is what makes you grow and change and really understand yourself. You’re never more naked with who you are than on a long run all by yourself. Victory and 20 miles were mine today.