Thursday, February 25, 2010

The 15-mile Weeknight Challenge

In an attempt to force myself to stick to my running plans for once, I posted them on Facebook.  I'll tell you, I was just WAITING for Tony Clark to pipe up, and of course he did.  I would've run the 15mi anyway, just so Tony wouldn't think I was a weanie, but he issued an additional challenge!  He would make me wear a K-State shirt *gasp* to a bar to watch the KU vs K-State game next week *double gasp*.  At that point, I was 5million percent sure I would be running 15mi.  Actually, the course I planned on running was about 15.5mi...keyword "planned".

The first 5 miles was a breeze.  I started at 4:30, so it was sunny and relatively "warm".  When I say warm, I was sunny and not windy, so 20-something degrees didn't feel bad.  I didn't need my gloves much, except for a minute or two after I would stop to take a picture.  Oh yeah, I took some pictures to document my adventure and prove to the world I did what I said I was going to do.  This worked out...for a while.  The trail was covered in a 2" layer of soft snow with no mud, so the footing was pretty good.  I was feeling great and thinking about what word I would use to describe my run on Dailymile.  I decided on "Great"!

I felt good when I reached Land's End.  Took a pic for documentation and ate some Honey Stinger Chews.  At this point I realized I didn't have a whole lot of food so I decided I would have to plan carefully for the rest of the run.  As the sun started setting, I noticed the snow started getting crunchy.  The temperature was dropping and whatever was warmed by the sun during the day, froze.  I was glad to get to the 10mi marker, because I knew the turnaround was just passed it and I would be on my way home.  I would classify this portion of the run as "Good".

I walked for a bit after getting to the 10mi marker to eat and drink.  When I finished and looked around, I wondered if I had passed the turnaround already.  I figured there was no way I could have missed it since I was just walking.  I started running and thinking it's just ahead.  As I kept running, I started to get a little nervous that I missed it.  I wasn't sure where the next turnaround was or even if there was one before the trail stops at the campground at the very end.  I was afraid I'd end up having to run 19mi! 

Around this time, I realized that this run wasn't quite as fun as I thought it would be.  I recalled that I don't really care for running alone in the dark.  It's not a matter of being afraid to be attacked by something or someone.  It's more like...when it's dark and I'm alone, I all of a sudden become afraid that I've been transported to some other universe and I'll never get home. 

Well I finally made it to the turnaround and was glad to be heading back.  After I ran for a while, I saw a mile marker, which was exciting, until I realized that it said 6!  If I had taken the correct turnaround, I should have been passing 5.  With the distance I ran past the 10mi marker and the distance it took me to get to the 6, this run had been extended to 17mi.  My knees were starting to hurt from running on the crunchy snow, but my legs still felt strong.  I just kept my pace up wanting to get it done and not freeze my butt off in the process.  I was surprised I didn't slow down, but my legs just kept on going, like machines.  It seemed like even if I wanted to stop they wouldn't let me.  They'd just keep going. 

The theme of this section was "Despair".  It only made me appreciate finishing even more though.  I don't think I've ever been so relieved to finish a training run.  I'm definitely glad I did it, but I probably won't make it a regular weeknight thing, unless I have the Nickster with me.

Follow Up
Next-day legs feel surprisingly good.  Muscles aren't really sore or fatigued.  Right knee is slightly sore.  I guess I'm getting back in shape!

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, my iPhone died on the way back at Land's End, so no pictures after that.  You'll just have to take my word that I finished.  Pics to be posted later.