“You’ll have to let me know how you do,” she said, hours before I was set to take the longest run of my life.
“I’ll tell you right now: ‘It sucked, my legs hurt and the 13.1 is gonna be brutal,'” I replied.
Occasionally, I can be prophetic.
This was one of those times.
No matter how you look at it, the magic number is three…
•…the number of miles I had to add to the longest run I’ve ever accomplished
•…the number of miles I have to go to get the proper distance
•…the number of weeks I have until my half marathon
I technically wasn’t supposed to run Friday. According to the training program I’ve been following, it was intended as a rest day, with Saturday as the date for my 10-miler.
But, since I had nothing to cover for work on Good Friday and I have a doubleheader to go to today, I switched them. The weather was also a factor in my decision too. Friday was supposed to be partly cloudy and in the low 70s, whereas Saturday it was going to be mostly sunny and in the high 70s.
Because of the doubleheader, I wouldn’t have gotten done working until the early evening, which means by the time I would be able to hit the pavement would most likely be the hottest part of the day.
Switching just made sense.
As noted earlier, the furthest I had ever run was 7 miles, and I was making a big jump in attempting 10. Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for it.
Typically on days I run I stretch at my apartment beforehand, then “warmup” walk to a given location where I begin my run; I generally never begin at my apartment.
So today, as I was walking to my starting spot, I kept telling myself a few things:
•”Take it slow.”
•”Don’t worry about time.”
•”Focus one mile at a time.”
The first half
I started well. Normally I run anywhere between a 9- and 10-minute pace, and that’s where I was for the first two miles, 9:46 and 9:51 respectively. But honestly, I wanted to go slower. It was at about the 2.4-mile mark I took my first break.
My next three miles (11:11, 10:48 and 10:45 respectively) were fine. I’ve gotten accustomed to a 5-mile distance, and it’s honestly become one of my favorites to run. I average about 50 minutes for the distance, and I always feel accomplished once it’s finished. (Note: Monday, I set a new PR for 5-miles with a time of 50:41, a 24-second improvement.)
And as I hit the 5-mile mark Friday, I was feeling good. Halfway there.
Then the sixth mile hit; a pace of 10:46. Not too bad, considering my last three miles had all been about the same pace. At this point, I was nearly done fumbling with my water bottle I took with me as it hung from the waist of a “fanny pack” I was wearing that held my phone.
It was the first time in months I had run with a water bottle, and I didn’t want to hold it in my hand because the last time I did it hurt my shoulder. So I thought putting it around my waist would work better. Instead I just kept messing with it as it wouldn’t stay in the same spot.
The final four
Rather than concentrating on what I had left to run, throughout my time through Portland I focused on what I had already completed and the next mile ahead. If I spent too much time thinking about the seven, five or four miles I had remaining, I would never get through it mentally.
So I took it one mile at a time.
But this is where things got worse. These last four miles were clearly my slowest.
I hit the 6-mile mark at Hudson Family Park, and completed mile seven (11:48) on Wayne Street near the intersection with High Street.
Everything after this distance is a new personal record for how far I had gone; up to this point my furthest run was seven miles.
I continued north on Wayne Street past ATI Portland Forge, and hit the eighth mile in 11:53, just before The Rock Church. I cut through the parking lot, across Meridian Street (U.S. 27) and continued down Industrial Park Drive.
I turned south on North Franklin Street, then turned westbound on West Lafayette Street. I hoped to run the entire length of this road all the way back to the intersection with Industrial Park Drive, but I had to walk a couple times.
As I got about halfway to Industrial Park Drive, I hit the 9-mile mark with a time of 13:09. One more mile!
By now, my calves hurt and my hips were sore. I didn’t have much further to go; only 10 percent of the run was left!
I turned south on Industrial Park Drive toward Votaw Street (Indiana 26/67), and I wasn’t able to run for very long periods of time; perhaps a one-tenth of a mile at a time. I was incredibly sore from the waist down.
But as I got to the Walmart parking lot, I continued to run, going through the parking lot to the entrance that intersects with North Williams Street.
After a short break as I waited for traffic to clear for me to cross Votaw Street, I continued south on Williams Street to where it ended at High Street and Judge Haynes Elementary. At this point it was too painful to run anymore, so I had to walk the finish, which was just before Middle Street.
My final mile was 14:03, for a total time of 1:54:05. It was about 5 to 10 minutes slower than I thought.
There was no fist pumping. There was no smile. When I completed the 10 miles, I simply kept walking. I had about a half mile to go to get back to my apartment, and I feared that if I stopped moving my legs would cramp up and I wouldn’t be able to get back home.
Plus, my calves and hips were so sore that I just wanted to get home, get in the shade and sit down.
I got back to the courthouse, chugged the mouthful of water that remained in my bottle and laid down in the grass.
Only then did it sink in as to what just happened.
I “ran” 10 miles — three miles further than I had in the past — and I just needed to go three more miles in three week’s time.
During my run, I got a text from my friend and colleague Aubree, who has been helping me throughout this process of becoming a runner.
“How’d your run go?” she asked.
“I’ve never been more sore in my life,” I replied, almost 20 minutes later when I was done.
“my [sic] calves burn. my [sic] hips hurt. everything [sic] after the 6-mile mark was painful,” I continued.
Then I get a text from Chrissy, after I told her I couldn’t feel my legs: “Lol, how did it go?”
I responded with precisely the same phrase I did earlier in the day: “it [sic] sucked. my [sic] legs hurt, and 13.1 is gonna be brutal.”
But it’s done. My 10-mile run is out of the way.
As part of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, there is a Miler Series, which are three races — distances of 3 miles, 6 miles and 10 miles — that coincide with a typical training regimen to work up to the 13.1 miles of a half marathon.
For those (like me) who are unable to make it to Indianapolis to complete the series, they offer a Virtual Miler Series. To accomplish it, you run those three respective distances during a given period of time, then submit results. By doing all three, participants are given a shirt, a bib and a medal. The day in which I completed the 10-miler, they arrived.
Here are my stats for the Miler Series:
•3-miler: Feb. 15 – 3.01 miles in 27:50
•6-miler: March 14 – 6.2 miles in 50:27 (treadmill)
•10-miler: April 14 – 10.01 miles in 1:54:05
When I really started to take running seriously last year, I started logging my mileage each time I ran.
I finished 2016 having run 184.38 miles, with a monthly high of 52.16 miles in August. Since then, the closes I had gotten to that total was this past March, during which I ran 13 times for a total of 50.02 miles.
As my mileage has increased this month, I will set a new record. I’ve already run 10 times for a distance of 50.26 miles. My 10-mile run on Friday helped me, in less than four months, surpass the total mileage of all of 2016. As of this writing, I have gone 189.49 miles with at least another 52 to go. My distance from last year will get absolutely crushed.
Three to go
I’ve got less than three weeks until my half marathon (May 6), and I’ve got three more miles to add. However, my final long run will be Saturday, as I go the 11.5 miles or so from Portland to Fort Recovery, Ohio.
Then it’s starting my two-week taper, whereas my longest run during that time will only be eight miles.
A month ago, I was relatively nervous that I was going to get burned out from running, that I was going to get to Indy on May 6 and not be able to make it to the finish line.
But after completing 10 miles on Friday, and with my impending 11-mile run in five days, the thought of failing on May 6 are going away.
I’m still nervous as all heck, though.
Three more weeks; three more miles.
I got this.