My Cherry Blossom Training long run was scheduled for Sunday. My plan called for 5-7 miles. I wasn't sure what to aim for. I've been generally trying to aim for the "upper" end of the beginner plan, which would suggest a target of 7 miles. But my longest run in the past couple of months had only been 4 miles, which would suggest that going for 7 could be too much and begging for an overuse injury, or at least a world of pain the next day!
My plans were further complicated by the fact that our usual stomping grounds were covered with snow and ice, so we were relocating to a neighborhood that was relatively clear. And said neighborhood is adjacent to my neighborhood. Our meeting spot was 1.3 miles from my house. I was excited to consider the possibility that I could run to our training spot! No car was needed. I could really depend on my own body to get me where I needed to go.
I did some math in my head, if I ran there and back that was 2.6 miles. So I would need to do at least 2.4 to hit the 5 mile mark, and 4.4 to hit 7. I decided to wing it and see how I felt when I was actually running. I also made sure my husband knew he might have to come pick me up in case I had overestimated my capabilities!
I took off on foot Sunday morning, remembering to start the "live track" on the garmin app on my phone so my husband could track my location. Unfortunately I forgot to actually hit the start button on the garmin, so 3/10 of a mile into my run it beeped at me and told me it was 30 seconds from shutting off due to inactivity. Oops! I hit the start button.
That first mile was tough. My calves felt achy and my mind was full of doubt. I figured I would be lucky to make it to 5. I wondered how I would ever run 10 miles during the race. I reached the school and talked with Coach Jodi about my calves while we were waiting for the group to assemble. We decided that I should have warmed up and done some dynamic stretches. I know this, but I don't always do it. And it really does make a difference. Mental resolution - make the time to warm up!
I started off on my own, but fell into step with Karen when I stopped to navigate some ice. That ice was quite fortuitous, because Karen was an excellent running partner. We had a similar pace and she had lots to share on prior Cherry Blossom racing and some half marathons she had run. My calves felt fine and my mind was pleasantly distracted by our conversation. I reached the decision point of 2.4 miles, and decided to keep going. We ran another 2.1 together, and then I made the turn for home.
My last mile was the fastest of all. There is something about running to something, especially running to home, that can really stoke your engine. I crossed the bridge close to my home feeling proud and amazed. I thought about how I had felt discouraged and achy not two hours before when I was crossing it in the other direction. How quickly things can change. How big a role our mind plays in our perceptions and attitudes. I arrived home, having just run 7.1 miles!