Sunday, September 2, 2012

Where the magic happens

With an enthusiastic sweep of the black Sharpie in my mind, I checked off my 10th workout in six days--an 8.5-mile run that felt . . . amazing!

Long runs, for me, are a thing of dread. Especially running them alone. I know that to all the marathoners out there, 60 minutes is nothing--a blink of an eye, a blip in time, a mere warm up. For me, anything over an hour is l-o-n-g.

Today I was scheduled to run 80 l-o-n-g minutes. As the dread set in the day before, I even toyed with the idea of showing up to a 10K trail run instead, before thinking better of running on trails for the first time since spring just four weeks shy of a race. (duh.)

So, I slept in, ate breakfast, caffeinated, and prepped my fuel belt (always in use for anything beyond 60 minutes, especially in warm/humid weather), loading it up with two 8-oz bottle of water and two 8-oz bottles of coconut water, each to be consumed over 20 minutes, and a Hammer Gel for the mid-point. I believe the combination of all the above helped me to find a little magic today.

  Hammer Gel 12 Pack: Choose from a variety of gel flavors

It was humid--76%--and cloudy, with temps in the low 80s. The first half of the run was a net uphill; I didn't push too hard. Around the 3-mile mark, a general weariness began to set in--no big surprise given that my weekly foundation runs tend to be 36-50 minutes. However, the fatigue quickly dissipated as I pushed through mile 4, sucked down the gel and began to enjoy the net downhill for the second half of the run.

Being ahead of schedule mile-wise, I added an extra loop which, to my surprise, had a huge hill--the type of descent that makes the quads weak as the legs windmill frantically to keep up with the pull of gravity. Of course, after bottoming out, I was faced with a wall of asphalt to climb out of the pit. It was a struggle and I was definitely out of my comfort zone but, when I reached the top, something amazing happened--the magic kicked in! The extreme change in terrain actually seemed to recharged my muscles and I experienced a burst of energy.

With two more miles to go, my pace, which had been slow, steady, and pushing a slight negative split, thanks, in part, to the return grade, continued to drop. When I hit 80 minutes, I kept running. 81 minutes and still running. I felt like I could have kept going for several more miles. Finally, almost regretfully, at 82 minutes, I slowed my pace to a walk and began my cool down.

Once home, I guzzled Recoverite while I stretched, still enjoying the novelty of a happy, tingly, energized feeling (aka "runner's high") instead of the beat down, exhausted feeling running sometimes leaves me with.

It certainly wasn't my fastest run, or the farthest, but it was definitely one of the best. And I'll gladly take a little magic whenever and however it happens.

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