This morning’s long run was so amazing. In three years of running it was easily my best run to date. I’m not really sure if there was any one thing that made it so, but it’s definitely one for the books.
My alarm went off at 5:30 this morning which seemed exceptionally early considering that we were out until 11pm at a baseball game last night. When the alarm sounded it took everything in me to drag myself out of bed. My single motivator? A weather forecast of temps in the upper 90’s. It was going to be early or not at all so climbed out from under the covers and beelined it to the kitchen where I choked down a sandwich thin with almond butter. I wasn’t really hungry, but I knew I was going to need it.
My arsenal for this run was pretty minimal: a CamelBak and my SPIbelt packed with three GUs and my iPod. I picked up the GU yesterday after I remembered how abysmal my 11 miler was last weekend. On that run I took a granola bar for fuel and every bite left me incredibly thirsty. By the end of the run, I swear I could hear the water sloshing around in my stomach! I decided to leave it to the pros this weekend and stocked up on Espresso Love, Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Outrage. I took one about 15 minutes before I headed out and the other two at miles 4 and 9. Obviously, it worked like a charm. I was really pleased with the flavors and found them suprisingly easy to take while running. They’re thick enough that you don’t have to down them all at once – the contents won’t slosh out – but not so thick that they leave you parched with thirst. I think I’ll have to start purchasing these guys in bulk!
Historically, I have far better experiences on long runs when I have my tunes rocking, but there’s something about running on a wooded trail before dawn that makes busting out the iPod seem sacrilege. I kept it tucked away thinking that I would pull it out later on when I got bored and needed a pick-me up, but that never happened. I made it to the 7 mile turn around point and was still going strong – and right on pace. I think it was the GU!
Right around the mile 8 I passed an older runner. His stride was hitching and his shoulders were so tense it looked like he was trying to touch them to his ear lobes. He was one of those guys you could tell had been running for years, and years and it had clearly taken its toll. About two minutes after I overtook him, he sped up a bit and tried to pass me…but didn’t quite. We chugged along side by side for a few minutes waiting to see who would pull ahead or drop back, but neither of us budged. Awkward. Just when I was thinking about pretending my shoe had come untied or something he said, “So how far are you going?” And so began a conversation between Lance and I that lasted for the next 4 miles.
Lance is probably in his sixties and is a veteran runner. He told me that he’s run just about every day since the 70s. He’s run marathons, duathlons, and despite constant knee pain he logged 10 miles today (and 13 yesterday!). He knew just about everyone on the trail too – as we chatted he was hollering out, “Hey there, Joe!” and “Leave the dogs at home today, Mary?” I know the running groups in this area are abundant and tight-knit, and it was fun to see such an involved member of the running community in action. It made me feel like I was a part of something great, which was such a fun experience. I had a blast talking to Lance and miles 8-12 absolutely flew by.
Whereas I had two miles to go when we hit my 12 mile mark, Lance had less than a mile to where he left his car and he wanted to make it count. He sprinted on ahead while I worked to maintain my negative splits. My average pace for the run was 10:36 (a bit faster than planned, but oh well) with my final mile completed at a 9:51. I finished really strong – in a full on sprint with a stupid grin on my face, I’m sure.
My reward? Cracker Barrel!
I’ve been salavating at the thought of this place all week! It’s about a 20 minute drive from our place and the wait when we got there was a half hour, but it took me at least that long to decide what I wanted to order. Ultimately, I decided not to splurge too much. I found this picture on their website which is almost exactly what we ordered:
I got the Wholesome Morning Sampler. This came with a low-fat yogurt parfait with blueberries, strawberries and granola, two eggs (I opted for Egg Beaters), one meat (I asked for turkey sausage), and an apple bran muffin (not the one pictured). Kirk went for the Blueberry Streusel French Toast which would have been my spurge option. In the end, I was really happy with what I ordered – his french toast was delish, but a little gummy for my taste. I saved my muffin for later, but we took the scenic way home and I ended up polishing it off before we reached the house. Oh, well. I earned it!