Yesterday I ran 18 miles. And it didn't suck. Nope, in fact every single one of those 18 miles was pretty strong. I went into this run super nervous since all of my 16-20 milers last year were just painful. I was so scared that this run would just make me think that I am way behind on training and freak me out more.
The first few miles were not great but not for the typical reasons. My stomach was a mess and I was jittery with nerves. I ran a little more than 3 miles before turning around and heading back. I was meeting my dad, who sometimes rides his bike alongside during my long runs, and I wanted to get a few miles in by myself beforehand. The second three miles were a bit better and for some reason the thought of only having to run 11.5 miles once I met up with my dad was oddly calming.
Once I made it back to the parking lot of the trail I took a quick stretch break since my right glute was feeling a bit tight and then we were on our way. Honestly I can't believe how quickly this run went by. My dad and I talked the entire time and the miles were just clicking by. I remember at one point looking down at my watch thinking I was around mile 8 and being almost at mile 11.
I noticed when I turned around the second time that my knees were getting pretty achy. This I did deal with last year on long runs. Any suggestions? Luckily the achiness faded within a few minutes. The kind of strange thing was that miles 12-16 felt slower than the previous miles but they were the right in line with what I'd been running the entire time. They didn't feel harder, just slower.
Since I was still feeling pretty good with two miles to go I decided to pick up the pace a little. I screwed up my watch when I stopped to meet my dad so I don't know what mile 17 was but I finished the run strong with an 8:13 final mile and didn't feel like I was pushing that hard.
This run was a complete 180 from the long runs I did in preparation for the NYC/Harrisburg Marathon last year. I finished the run laughing and joking and most importantly the thought of doing another 8 miles didn't completely terrify me. To be completely honest I've been a bit nervous about this abbreviated marathon training cycle but I've been doing everything Mike tells me to and clearly it is working.
Next week my long run is 21 miles, which surprise, surprise I'm already nervous for. The 18 miler did help reassure me that not all long runs will suck and that they can actually be enjoyable.