I ran my first 10 miles this last weekend.
And it felt great! Amazing! What an achievement! 10 miles. 16K. Wow!
For a girl who had to walk most of the Manchester 10K back in 2004 and who has had 2 children and has barely exercised in the last 7 or 8 years, never mind run since, I am feeling very proud of myself!
As you know, I started back in Feb with the Borgess 'Run for the Health of it' camp and trained for a 5K. I wanted to keep going over the summer (in the vain hope that I might lose a bit of weight. Sadly not yet. Damn you vanilla lattes! Or maybe I have just put on loads of muscle? Yes that's it! Ha I wish!) and have moved on to half marathon training with the local sports shop - Gazelle and their summer safari program.
So when I say ran, I actually mean jogged. But to me it felt like running! I averaged 13 minute miles which is a lot slower than my training for the 5K (I was averaging 10 to 10.5 minute miles by the end of their 14 week programme) but I am battling against a particularly brutal Michigan summer...
When the sun comes up and is burning brightly in the sky, when the temperature reaches 80oF (25oC) heat and the humidity is up around 80 or 90% by 8am, I have to slow down!
This weekend there was just enough wispy cloud covering the sun and just enough trees along the roadside to give me a break. I was really disappointed the week before because the heat got the better of me and I had to stop for quite a while, halfway through the 9 mile course, to rehydrate and cool down. I only managed 8 miles and walked for at least one of those.
But this weekend was different. I was determined to keep going, I have a great running partner who is very inspirational and runs at a similar pace to me. We talked for pretty much the whole distance, which was great because the first half was pretty much all uphill!
I really struggle psychologically with the long distances. In my head I can tell myself I can do it, it's just one foot in front of the other, I just need to keep going (and believe me I repeat these mantras over and over in my head, in time to my footsteps, especially near the end) but when I start out, after 3 or 4 miles, I just keep thinking about how much is still to go and I start to get defeated and spend far too long thinking things like "maybe I will just do 6 today instead of 8", "maybe I will walk after the next mile", "do I really have to run up this hill on the way back?!", "I am so tired, I can't possibly run for another hour" and so on...
But this time we talked lots and kept each other going. I met her whilst we were literally limping through a 7 mile run just a few weeks ago. We kept passing each other as each of us had to walk to catch our breath and we kept laughing as one of us would ran past the other, that we would see each other again soon.
This weekend, I swear the last mile was actually 2! I know it wasn't because they put markers out at each mile so you know exactly how far you have gone.
Even though it was downhill it felt like it just went on and on and then I turned round the corner and saw the final hill up to the YMCA and the finish line. Months earlier I practically crawled up that damn hill with 2 people cheering me on, after I ran 5 miles for the first time. I couldn't believe I was here again, having run almost 10 miles!
I do not know how I did it but I did...
And it was easier than last time...
And I sprinted into the Y...
And I didn't collapse in a heap...
I lost my running buddy who ended up running with another girl for the last 2 miles so I found myself on my own with 2 miles to go, wanting to walk but desperately wanting to finish and bask in the glory of 10 miles.
I now know what people are talking about when they say the first 45 minutes are hell, then it gets easier. Why on earth would you do something for 45 minutes that was that hard?! Well I definitely find the first 3 or 4 miles really tough, then something changes in my body and my legs start to feel like they are not attached to the rest of me and are moving on their own, like robot legs!
The problem is, I have to stop for water and then my legs feel like jelly! But I really do find that I get into a rhythm with my breathing and it actually starts to feel ok. I can't believe I can run for over 2 hours, only stopping briefly to get a drink of water.
I have to say that I can barely walk up the stairs today and if I sit in one position for too long I stiffen up and can't move! But it was worth it!
I am so thankful to Cara for keeping me going, to Sara and Elizabeth my other running buddies and to all the people at Gazelle Sports who are there from goodness knows what time in the morning setting up, so they are ready to greet us at 7am and get us on our way.
I also can't believe I am someone who gets up at 5:30am (to get breakfast) to go running!