That’s a number that’s taunted me for the past few weeks. A number that I’ve obsessed about, worried about and, frankly, dreaded.
It’s been on the marathon-training plan all along, so it’s not like it came as a surprise, but it’s a number that had consumed me.
A half marathon once held similar mystique in my mind. It was something other people did. Then it became a “someday” goal. One that seemed unattainable but one which I eventually conquered.
But 15? Only crazy people go out to run 15 miles, right?
El husbando, who’s been ever so supportive through my marathon training, even questioned my sanity (not for the first time, mind you). “You’re crazy,” he said, shaking his head.
But I still set out to run my 15 miles this morning. It wasn’t pretty, but I learned some lessons. So gather around me, grasshoppers and learn from my mistakes.
1. Don’t go out on a long run by yourself if you’re really nervous about covering the distance. I was really nervous about covering the distance, so my friend Janet met me at 7 a.m. for 12 of the miles, out and back. I would not have come close to finishing without her support.
2. Bring more water than you could possibly drink or plan your route so you can get some. I brought two small-ish water bottles in my luggage, which was not nearly enough. Thankfully, Janet knew the location of every single water fountain on our route so we were OK, but I would have definitely suffered had it not been for her.
3. Use the water to cool down even if you think you’re not overheating. The temperature was already 67 degrees, so we heated up pretty quickly. I didn’t realize just how hot I was until I followed Janet’s example and drenched myself at the water fountains. The liberally applied cool water helped make me more comfortable.
4. Eat beforehand and bring fuel. I ate a typical before-a-long-run breakfast for me (coffee, homemade banana bread and peanut butter) and brought three packets of Sport Beans. Again, not nearly enough on both counts. Because I’d planned on a 13-minute-mile pace, I knew the run would take me over three hours. By mile 10, I was starving and dreaming of a big Whopper and fries. The beans were a nice boost but I finished my run with a completely empty tank.
5. Plan, then plan some more. I should have researched the route to know that other than the water fountains, there was no place to get or buy water or Gatorade. I also could have avoided running the last three miles by myself in full sun. Lastly, I should have paid more attention to the training plan on my fridge. Had I done that, I wouldn’t have committed to a 5K walk on Saturday so I could run the 15 with the local running store’s Team Playmakers, which includes aid stations with water and Gatorade every Saturday morning.
Let’s see if I can take my own advice for next week’s 16!
What’s your longest distance? Did you learn any lessons? What do you wish you could do differently?