A 50k trail race near Omaha at the end of October.
50k is 50 kilometers or 31 miles.
Did your stomach just do a flip-flop? That's ok. Mine did as well when I first thought about it. Now I'm in the middle of training with little over seven and a half weeks to go and I'm mostly focused on the training so my stomach has settled a little.
I'll share in another post how I chose this race and distance but for now I want to share thoughts and such from my first long run of my training plan which was 15 miles. I hope to share once a week about the previous weekend's run on the following Friday. That means I ran the 15 miler last Friday.
My plan for the long runs is to do them on Fridays while the kids are in school. This gives me plenty of time during the day to get it done without taking time away from the family. It also means on Saturdays I only have to do a short recovery run of 3-4 miles and then Sunday will generally be a rest day.
This past Friday I was ready to execute my plan. Eat a light but still substantial breakfast- toast with peanut butter and honey and possibly a banana- and have my gear ready to go once I got home from dropping the kids off at school. The school drop-off didn't go according to plan and I got home about forty-five minutes later than I wanted to be. In that time I had had two stressful phone calls with Bill and once I got home I ended up talking with a friend and our discussion turned more serious. I took care of my pack, made my last minute preps and headed out the door all while on the phone with her. I was starting out close to an hour and a half later than I had hoped. The sun, even in late August, was burning warm and this being Iowa, land of rich top soil and humidity, was going to make this run a battle of not only miles but of mind and physical challenges as well.
The route I chose isn't a very shady one. It's on the limestone bike trail that leads east out of town and onto gravel once in Cambridge. My goal was to get in 15 miles with a heart rate of 150 bpm or less. I gave myself plenty of time to warm-up, going extra easy. I started sipping water fairly soon into the run but caught myself passing the first couple of miles without much water intake. I would need to keep up on this but since this was the first time with my new pack, I didn't know exactly how that would all work out.
I ran to Cambridge and decided to take the gravel road first and the bike trail second. I stopped by a friend's house to see if she was home so I could refill my water bottle. As I would later learn, that should have been plural as in bottles. Renae was home and like a true friend and friend of a runner, she let my sweaty self in, refilled my bottle and refilled it again as I guzzled an entire 10 oz while we chatted. Finally I tore myself away from her company, agua and air conditioning and headed out to finish the not quite eight miles left. There is a very nice hill just east of her house. I knew I would be walking it however I didn't get far into it before I had to stop and answer a call from the school, make a call to Bill and take care of a volley of texts from both Bill and Audrey. That was the next couple of miles, slow, on and off running, drinking water, on and off walking and praying. By this point, my thoughts were so wrapped up I had to pray. As you can imagine, fifteen miles does give you plenty of time to do this. Plus, I cannot answer nor solve all of the problems that pass my way but I can lay them down at His feet.
The toll of the late start, the extra stresses and the lack of taking in enough water started to show as I left town. It felt like my pace was down to a crawl. I resorted to walking here and there to keep my heart rate low. Sometimes it seemed like even thinking about running caused my HR to rise too high. I was more liberal with my water consumption during the last half, going through both ten ounce bottles and pulling out my last water bottle stashed in my pack and it helped.
Besides praying, I couldn't help but thinking a few things. It did cross my mind that I was running only half of what I was hoping to complete in two months. How would I ever be able to do so? To answer that, I knew that even if I walked, I could probably do it, barring any major injuries. The issue with hydration was not something I figured out until near the end. I paid attention and learned and that is what counts. There will be aid stations with water available every few miles so this won't be a problem. For my long runs from here out, I will need to make sure I take a bladder to hold water or stop to fill up along the way. The only way home was by getting home. I was on a trail that really didn't have any great access points except at intersections of which there are three- beginning, middle and end. The point was for me to get in the miles and I would, running or not. I had to decide that and make it happen.
It seems like I made a stink at the beginning of this post about it being hot and muggy and starting later than I wanted, etc. Even though this was all true, I tried not to let it bum me out. I chose to deal with it and learn. I knew this could make me a better, mentally stronger runner if I didn't whine and did the work anyway. I couldn't help but think this is so very similar to our real lives. My extra time at the school that morning and the ensuing conversations were not what I would have chosen. However, those were the things that were given to me that day and I would have to surrender to the work before me all the while being completely caught in His mercies.
Running can be an ego trip. You put in the work and for the most part, you have something to show for it in the end. It's easy to get caught up in the check it off the list, the see what I did kind of thing. I'm not saying all of that is bad. As a mother, it feels so good to have done something and it stayed that way. But those fifteen miles? They humbled me. They taught me to respect the miles (it's still fifteen, even if you've done them before). They also taught me that sometimes your goal is to get the miles in, get the work done, climb the hill, walk the flats and finish because that's the work put before you to do. Even if you feel like you have nothing to show for it, no high, no rush, it still counts. It still counts.
Whoa! Really long-winded with this one. Not what I expected to do. I'm not leaving anything out this time. Maybe a few weeks down the road my long run will say: "18 miles. Done." because I will so exhausted I will be taking a nap.
If you made it to the end congrats and have you ever thought about long distance running? Just kidding.
Thoughts? Different perspective? Questions?
Alrighty. Next week- 16 miles