Not that it felt that way. I've had 10-milers feel three times as long. But today, with Tim and Bill as my witnesses, I ran farther than I ever have before. 21.10 miles, to be exact. That's right--for those of you who don't know it, I've never actually completed a marathon. I've trained for several, but always get hurt. In fact, this is the furthest into a marathon training cycle I've ever made it. I'm usually hurt (severely) by now. So I'm in all new territory and approaching the gates of Taper Town. Go ahead and brace yourself for that.
It was a small group today. Kathy's son was home for his birthday, so she was doing family stuff. Wes and Magnus were on trails. Scott was MIA (on a trail somewhere?), Emily is sick, and dad is tapering for his half next week. That left me, Tim, and Bill. Two Millers and one Deckard. One fine group.
The plan was 21 miles. I was not sure how to dress. It snowed, yes, snowed overnight. The temperature was 32 with a stiff wind. I couldn't bear to wear tights. But it sounded so cold, and looked so cold with all the snow on the ground. I settled on pants, but not tights. And a medium-thickness long sleeve shirt, gloves, and ear wrap. I took the TENS, hoping I wouldn't need it. Tim and Bill were dressed similarly. Well, neither of them had a TENS unit, but you get the idea.
As we headed out toward I Street, we all remarked how warm it felt. We weren't feeling the alleged wind, and the sun was shining brightly. I realized, a quarter mile in, that I had overdressed. The only thing saving me was that my shirt had a half zip front. Oh, well. Too late now. We were moving at a decent clip. Very comfortable, but quite a bit faster than our usual Sunday pace. The sun was very bright, and I was kicking myself for wearing long pants. During the first mile, my right-sided pain was there, and definitely more pronounced than yesterday. I was bracing myself for a really painful run, and I kept toying with the idea of strapping on the TENS unit. I told myself I'd make it to the first bathroom stop (6.2 miles in) and then reconsider it.
At the top of the I-Street hill, I had stashed some Gatorade. So we stopped, tanked up, and were off again. Same quickish, but comfortable, pace. Miles 2.5-6 were the worst in terms of my abdominal pain. I have no idea why. However, at the first pee stop, I again talked myself out of the TENS. I really wanted to see how the pain was and if the cortisone had made any difference. I vowed to make it to the next place I had stashed water, which was around 11 miles in.
We headed toward Buddha, and toward one of the worst hills in the WORLD. Well, maybe it only feels that way to me, and maybe only today, but it's a bad hill. It just goes and goes and goes. And it comes right when you're starting to feel the effects of the run. I decided, especially with the faster pace, that I wasn't going to try to power or push up hills today. My goal was to keep my effort even. Tim hung back with me initially, but we couldn't let a Deckard be the first to the top, could we? Tim ended up taking off and, I think, passed Bill. They waited for me at the top. I hate to make them wait, but, unless I just kill myself, I can't keep up with them on climbs. I'm fine and very comfortable on flat stuff and rollers, but on those huge, long climbs I fall way off. That irritates me. I run hills, big hills, ALL the time. I think I am strong on hills, despite not doing hill repeats. But I can't hang with them on the big ones. Bill assures me I would do just fine on a hilly marathon course, though.
After that awful hill, we then descended down a huge hill. This was more painful than the uphill! My knees, quads, everything just didn't like the impact. We stopped for water, and I again decided not to wear the TENS. I was doing okay. The right-sided pain was there, but manageable. I wanted to see what would happen. We took off again, and this is when the wind showed up. It was stiff and cold. Tim and Bill took turns blocking the wind (I'm too short to do that job effectively for them). This part of the run was the most unpleasant, simply because it was a lot of work to run through that wind.
The miles just seemed to click by, and my abdominal pain never got worse. It wasn't until Slaughter House Hill (about 19 miles in) that I started to have to work a little bit to keep up. I hate that hill. I do, I do, I do, and I ALWAYS will. The only thing good about it is that it tells me I'm almost home. We finished the last two miles at an even pace and I finished my longest run ever. I'm really pleased with how strong I felt, especially since this is my highest mileage week. We averaged 7:59/mile, even with the major climbs. Anything starting with a 7 is moving out there. Also--I made it that far and never needed my TENS unit.
Then it was time for the real torture: the ice bath. Boy, I needed one, as did Tim. But our ice bath is actually a kiddie pool in the back yard, which had frozen over last night. It was a literal ice bath. We had to break the ice on top to even get in it. I put one foot in and announced I couldn't do it. Too frigid. And it was. No human in his/her right mind would have gotten into that pool. Tim said that if I couldn't do it, how could he be expected to? Okay, fine. I'll do it. He got in first, and I got in right after. Talk about pain. It was awful. The most uncomfortable I've been in a long time (and that's saying something). He was talking, but I couldn't. I was shivering badly, and my toes were killing me from being so cold. I've taken a lot of ice baths, but I've never had such an unpleasant one. I only lasted 10 minutes. That was enough for me. When I took a shower afterward, my toes ached badly when the hot water hit them. It was almost as if I was on the verge of frost bite. I hate ice baths.
Rest day tomorrow, and I'm sure I'm going to need it.