Y’all, let me say that again: I RAN TEN — 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 — MILES!
Okay, technically I ran 10.91 miles, but that’s beside the point. Because I ran ten — dos, dix, zehn, en-tay, десять, X, tee-ee-en — miles, my bitches.
I’ll say it one more time: I ran ten miles.
I have to tell you, I never thought I’d run that distance, especially not barely four months after knee surgery. Actually, I wasn’t sure I’d ever run that distance and I still can’t believe I did, even though I’ve checked and double-checked my information.
I knew when I started off on Friday that I was going to attempt TEN MILES. (Sorry, had to say it again.) The local 10-miler is at the end of March and I’ve been trying to decide if I’m going to run it or not. (Depends mostly on our spring break plans and if we decide to go somewhere.) The race route runs through town and comes within a mile of Jenworld, so I decided to pick up the course on this side of town and see how I felt as I ran. It’s a pretty hilly route and the farthest I had run up to then was 8.75 miles a couple of weeks ago, so I was prepared to have to walk at times, if necessary.
This is a small town and there are a finite number of places to run, so I had already run large chunks of this particular race route, plus I had driven or walked or biked the rest of it dozens of times. Thus, I was pretty familiar with what I was about to run and knew what I was in for. I packed snacks (a granola bar chopped into bite sizes, applesauce, and water), I slathered myself generously in BodyGlide*, and strapped the Dollies firmly into place.
* I’ve also learned to carry a tube of lip balm with me in case — and this always happens — I missed any spots with the BodyGlide and need to grease up mid-run.
Luckily, it was a gorgeous day. Sunny and highs in the upper 50s, I didn’t need a lot of layers. I set off at an easy pace and just enjoyed the run.
Once thing I’ve learned as I’ve become a runner is that distances always seem longer than they are and hills seem more daunting than they should. The reality is, nothing is very far from anything else here in town, especially so over at the University, which was a large chunk of my run. When I was an undergraduate, if someone had suggested walking from one end of Grounds* to the other, I would have immediately envisioned a megatransect and would have started laying in provisions for a week’s journey. Now, I know that it’s a distance of less than two miles and civilization will be in sight the whole time.
*That’s “campus” to the rest of the world.
So I headed out and I ran. And ran. And ran. And ran. And ran more. I went through downtown, down Main Street, through the University, then around it, and then back through one more time, through the fraternity neighborhood, back to downtown, and then home again.
By the time I hit the 9 mile mark and realized that 1) I had surpassed my longest distance and 2) that I was definitely going to be passing the 10 mile mark with no walking, I was elated. Every time I passed someone on the sidewalk, I just wanted to pump my fist in the air and say, “Hellz yeah I’ve run 9 miles already!” but I restrained myself. Residents of central Virginia, you’re welcome.
At one point around mile 9, I ran past a store and glanced at myself in the large window. I realized at that moment that anyone seeing me who didn’t know me probably thought I was just an overweight chick who was struggling with her first mile, but then I shrugged off the thought and kept going. After all, I don’t care what anyone thinks. As I’ve told you before, self consciousness is the enemy of fun.*
* Credit for that statement goes to Jayne Williams, author of the terrific book Slow Fat Triathlete.
And then I reached Jenworld — a VERY happy Jen, indeed.
A couple of years ago when I first started running, I had no idea I’d ever get this far — both literally and figuratively. There was an early run that I told you about when I finally conquered a hill I’d been struggling with — one that I thought was huge and now I realize is actually pretty small — and the huge sense of elation I felt afterward. That was my first runner’s high.
And now I’ve run 10 miles and will surely do so again. But you know what? No matter how far I run and for how long, I don’t think anything will compare with some of my milestones in my first six months of running, including my first 4-miler when I actually wept with joy after crossing the finish line.
I am well aware that 10.91 miles is pretty darn close to a half marathon and I will run that distance … eventually. But not yet. I’m in no hurry. There’s a half marathon here in town in early April that I briefly considered. I took a look at the course profile, chuckled when I saw all those massive hills, and then closed that website. I could potentially be ready to run 13.1 miles in two months or so, but I’m definitely not ready for that course, which a local running friend told me is one of the toughest in the country. I’ll just stick with my tentative plan to run a much flatter half marathon with my siblings in September. It has a time limit, so I will need to work on my speeds in the next seven months.
Ah yes, speed. About that… I am still slow, but I am getting faster. I told you once that I’m so slow that if someone told me to haul ass, it would take two trips. Now, I’d say that I’ve improved my pace to the point that hauling ass would take only one-and-a-half trips. But, it’s not about the speed, it’s about the journey, amiright?
Normally, I don’t mention my running times here because they’re all relative. They would only show you where I am on my personal running journey and have no bearing on where you are as a runner or walker. I’m faster than a few people and slower than a lot of people and I’m totally fine with that. But, in case it’s helpful, here are a few numbers:
- A year ago, I was running around 13:30 – 14:00/mile, regardless of distance, and I was even slower on hills.
- Right now, I’m trying to run 11:00/mile or faster for 2-3 mile runs and am thisclose to breaking 12:00/mile for 5-6 mile runs. For 7 miles or longer, I don’t even think about speed and I intentionally start off slow, so I’m averaging 14:15/mile on those runs. (In fact, on Friday, instead of wearing my Garmin on my wrist where I could easily see it, I hooked it to my fuel belt where it would not be easily visible.)
Like I said, I’m still slow, but I am improving. And if you are a new runner, you will too. Believe me when I tell you that.
So that was my run on Friday. I was a little sore afterward, but nothing major and by Saturday I felt totally back to normal. The only exercise on Saturday I did was some gentle stretching and a few yoga poses. Yesterday, I went out for a 2.4 mile run and was back in a little over a half hour. I’ll probably run again tomorrow, maybe 5 miles or so. I won’t run 10 miles again for a couple of weeks, but I will definitely do it again.
Disclaimer: I don’t work for the companies whose products I mentioned, nor was I asked to review their products. But seriously folks, I swear by this stuff, yo. Photo credit: Yahoo Images.