Practice Practicing

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Well, it wasn’t pretty. But I made it. Six hour run done.
This was my first six hour run AND my first time running 24 miles.
I feel pleased I did it. I feel confused because I struggled so much the second half of the run. More on that later.
Firstly, it’s taken two friggin weeks to write about this run. WTF? I’ve read and re-read your blogs, looking for the words to describe where I’m at. Some part of me is afraid I’m not supposed to be running this long. That I’m not cut out for ultra running. That just last year, when I thought I’d start running long, it was just an immature notion.
The first half of the run was beautiful. 12 miles in 2 1/2 hours. That’s fast for me. It was 70, our first summery day, I had everything I needed fuel wise and was super excited to hit the trails. The plan was two 12 mile loops and done. More importantly, I planned on six hours on my feet, whatever the mileage.
Hubby and I chatted and joked. I felt light and ran with surprising ease. He help push me on the downhills, which I need LOTS of practice on. I’m hoping to learn to make up time on those blessed rests. We ran familiar trails practicing race pace (mine, not his). I saw my first blue bird, a few Peregrine falcons and, my favorite, the first red eft of the season.
After the first lap, I dropped off Aggie and the hubs (who’s rocking the high mileage lately). Changed my socks, chugged a cup of coffee, and took off. Are you sure you’re okay? I feel great. It’ll be awesome.
Only two or three miles into the second lap, my stomach cramped up. Running became an afterthought as i tried to breathe through the pain. Meanwhile, my mood took a big dive trying to push up the long, 1100′ four mile climb. I’d been so psyched to keep as good a pace as the first lap. Yeah, not so much. I made an uneasy truce with myself. That whatever I did, I would just move forward. Whatever that looked like.
I breathed slowly, puffing up my cheeks on the exhalations. The pain subsided and I pressed on. I was starting to gain the upper hand with my inner pessimist.
I’ve been working on keeping positive when the real work begins. Which is easier when things are going well. Of course. This is new for me. I’m used to my mood dictating my behavior. In the past, my M.O. has been to cut my losses when things get hard. Around mile 17, I felt like quitting. Hubby and I had been texting a few times at this point. He knew I wanted to barf. A lot. Want me to pick you up? No, not yet. Maybe in another hour. I guess I had something left in the tank.
And then I reached the downhill point. And things got funny. At least not painful.
The last 4 miles I cracked myself up. I sang out loud, danced, whimpered and performed tired, little dances along the trail. I’m glad no one was there to film me. I probably looked like a crazy, dirty, homeless person in pink technical clothes. I walked some, I ran when I could. And tripped a lot. And laughed and whimpered some more. My mood was all over the map. I felt hormonal. It wasn’t entirely unpleasant. More like taking drugs than I thought possible. And I’m sober. You can see Irony. But I was ready to be done ‘tripping’.
At mile 23, hubby and Aggie appear like a mirage. I truly thought I was hallucinating. My last mile was through our town park. He knew about where I’d be, and came to meet me at my ‘finish line’. I dropped to my knees as Aggie ran to me, not believing her real. I wrapped my arms around her and buried my face in her fur. I laughed and cried simultaneously. I was so touched they came for me. And glad it was over. For today. Thank you, God.

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I guess I wasn’t prepared for how hard this run would be. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Duh. But THAT hard. Tears, hallucinations. The drama. Haha. Well, a little drama. I didn’t picture myself falling apart. I still have two weeks to back out of the race if I really wuss out. I keep thinking the 50K is 7 more miles than I’ve ever gone. But I also know it will be different hard on race day. And that I can’t write the day. Maybe some God moments will outshine the hard stuff. It’ll be memorable whatever it looks like. And probably better than that. Right? Alright, enough musing.
This is my last week with any substantial mileage. And a 5K trail race this weekend.
Then, dun-dun-dunt, my first taper.

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

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15 thoughts on “Practice Practicing

  1. You did it!! Way to go!! I have had some pretty awful long runs/races (recent 50k) in my past. We all have them. I think it makes us stronger. Think back on this long run when you are running your 50k!

    • Thank you, thank you! And to you, too, on Greenland.
      It’s reassuring, albeit hard, to know we all have rough runs. My mind truly plays tricks on me when I’m tired. Maybe now I’m a little tougher….hahaha.
      Please stay in touch, fast girl.

  2. Good for you for running thru it! And kudos to your wonderful support system. Have fun at your trail race! Can’t wait to read about it (;
    (btw You are inspiring me to try longer runs, thank you.)

  3. I started trail running last summer and trained for my first 50K. I remember well my first 24 and 26 milers. It was close to 100 degrees and the runs lasted all day. It felt like a job! Awesome job on staying strong and getting it done.

  4. You have so got this. You will discover that in an ultra, you will feel good, and then you won’t, and then you’ll feel good (or, at least, better), and then you won’t, and on and on it goes. Kinda like life, encapsulated. Just keep going. Quit when you’re finished. You have so got this!

    • Thanks! I really appreciate your feedback!
      I’m looking forward to catching up on your blog and seeing more of your gorgeous doggies. My girl Aggie is part German Shepherd and part Collie.
      Please stay in touch!!

  5. Way to go and stick with it! Next time, hold off on the coffee. 🙂 Incredible though! 🙂 I remember the first time I threw a temper-tantrum on a long run. I sat down in the middle of the trail and refused to go further…then I realized no one was going to come and get me. 😛

  6. It was such a gift to see Aggie and my husband en route. I loved it!
    You’re right about the coffee. Next time, I’ll eat a caffeinated gel instead.
    Thanks for the comment & your gorgeous blog!

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