Marathon Training: 18 Miles

I always have to get prepared the night before. I realize I pack a little more than what I need to, but when you’re running from point A to point B and ending 18 miles away from home, well, yes, I needed a few extra things.  I was very thankful that I was able to pack a bag on Thursday to give my Mom though. She works blocks from my house. I packed a fresh set of clothes, my travel skincare, protein powder and nuun for after my run, and a towel for my hair. I realize it seems silly that I packed a towel to go to my Mom’s. I mean, obviously she has towels a plenty in her house. But I have a microfiber thing hair towel that I like to use on my hair, so I brought it. Ha. Could I do without? Absolutely. But I was packing a bag anyway, so I figured I’d just throw it in there.

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Friday night rolled around and I was getting really nervous. 18 miles would be my new farthest distance. Last year when I ran to my Mom’s house, not only was I with friends, but we were nonchalant about it – taking as much time as we needed, including stopping a few times along the way. We went 17 miles.  Because I am now marathon training, I really wanted to make sure that I was pushing myself for time. I can’t even compare the 17 miles run last year to the 18 mile run this year. I’m in a completely different placethan where I was. I actually feels weird to put that in writing. It’s only a mile more. I can see people thinking.  Sure, it might be, but there’s also so many other factors in there. One, I did 18 miles alone (for the most part. I did meet my sister at mile 14, but more on that in a bit). Two, I was trying to go for time and push myself. Three, I was way more exhausted at this point in training. I barely followed any sort of a training plan when I went to my Mom’s. I realize that isn’t the smartest thing to do, but that’s what I did. I ran on the weekends and maybe once or twice during the week, and definitely not as intense as I am running now.

But I digress.

To get ready, I needed my fuel, ID, some cash, Noxgear and headlamp and my hydration vest. Plus my keys to get back into my house. I set out the clothes I am going to wear too – that way I’m not stumbling around in the morning looking for things. I plan to have a dedicated post to how I get ready, so I’ll leave it short and simple here.

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0445 rolled around – I found myself hardcore dilly dallying. It’s really nerve wrackinggoing a distance you’ve never done before. It was also really early so I wasn’t fully awake. I spend some time making sure that my Garmin LiveTrack feature was working. Josh gets a link every single time I run, but I also had my Mom added since I was running towards her house. I texted her making sure she got the email, snapped a photo for her so she knew I had my Noxgear on and was able to be visible when running, and then I headed out the door. I walked for a block or two: I really needed to mentally prepare myself for leaving south Kenosha to run to north Racine… no turning around. “I gotta just go,” I told myself. I knew I needed to start off slower or I’d lose steam. I was proud of myself for not busting out some fast pace that I couldn’t handle for 18 miles. Starting off slow is harder than you’d think, too. But I kept a steady slow pace, making sure to just put one foot in front of the other.

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Before I knew it, I was to the start of the trail. It was just starting to get light out. Dusk is always a comforting time of day for me. I actually hate wearing a headlamp. I have tohave it tight on my head so it doesn’t bounce, but then it just hurts and feels weird… like my head is being strangled. It is not something that I have gotten used to. There are some areas where I run where I don’t need my headlamp because the streetlights are enough. But I knew I would need it today since there were a few stretches of pure darkness.  I do really like running in the dark. Well, for the most part. I wouldn’t ever run on some secluded trail by myself. I mean, what if I fell? The places I run still has some sort of car traffic,even at 0530. I’ve never felt unsafe before.  In any case, I was glad it was getting light out since my Noxgear started to flash red (meaning my batteries were almost dead). It was light enough out to be seen so I wasn’t really worried about it.

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It wasn’t until I was 8 miles in (around 0700) that I saw my first signs of humans. Which, yes, is actually rare. In the areas I normally run around, I see a handful of people running. But not so much on the trail! I really was surprised. It made me a little more aware of my surroundings. Every squirrel I heard bustling about got my attention. I don’t run with headphones in so I hear everything.  

At 0718 I hit the county line road between Kenosha and Racine. Soon after, at 0729, I hit halfway through my run. It was the point of no return. It is hard to not want to turnaround sometimes, but at least when I got halfway, I knew I didn’t really have a choice. I had planned to do the last 4 miles with my sister. She was going to meet me and run the rest of the way to my house. So I let her know when I hit 12 miles. I got to mile 14 before she was there, so I paused my watch and did a few stretches. I needed some sugar anyway, so I got out my trusty Honey Stinger Waffles.  I really like this. They are a bit messy though so unfortunately I don’t have them often. My sister got to our meeting point, and we headed out.  I knew I had 4 more miles left to go. It was hard pushing through those last couple of miles though. I really just wanted a nap.  My quads were holding strong. My my calves were tightening up more than I anticipated they would. My hips were started to tense up. DeAnna kept encouraging me that I could do it and keep going. 

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The hardest part about the run was needing to run right by my Mom’s street and keepgoing for another half mile out. I hit her road around mile 17. I wanted to just be done. Having DeAnna there really helped. So instead of turning down her road, we went a half mile down and turned around. I pushed with everything I had in order to finish the run.  I get so overwhelmed with emotions when I accomplish something I didn’t think was possible. We walked a few blocks before going back to the house. I knew that I needed to stretch. My whole body felt really tight. I hold a lot of tension in my back when I run. I’m working on a more proper form, but old habits are hard to break.

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As soon as I got to my Mom’s, I pulled out my protein powder from my my bad and had that right away while I was stretching. I took close to 15-20 minutes to stretch before taking a shower.  My original plan was to drop my car off at my Mom’s on Thursday night and have Josh drive me home, but my Mom told me that she would just take me home after my run. So I was very thankful for that since I knew I would be really tired.   That shower felt so relaxing. It was like I was washing away all the doubts I thought I had about the run. I finished it. I was still walking. And I didn’t tripall once. Ha!

As soon as my shower was done, I started getting really hungry. We decided to go to Meli’s Cafe. If you haven’t been there before, I highly recommend. The food portions are HUGE. I usually get 2.5 meals out of it. The omelet is basically the size of my head, and it comes with a side of pancakes… which are also the size of my head. I always get an omelet and pancakes because I eat the pancakes at the restaurant, and i pick at the omelet a bit, but take most of it home. Omelets and potatoes are MUCH easier to reheat then pancakes, so I save those for later.

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I was really thankful that my Mom had offered to bring me home. I would have been awake enough to drive myself home, but I’m not the biggest fan of driving, so it was nice to not have to do that. Thanks Mom! 

It made me a little more confident in my training, but also still really nervous. This run was 18 miles which was hard enough already, but knowing during the race I will have 8.2 miles more? Yikes.

Cheers to nap time.

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