Big big big big day. 24.71 miles. I've never run that far before.
To assist me along the way, I have Casey running the first 10 miles with me. When you consider that he's only run 5.5 miles as his distance PR, that is a pretty good stretch to hit 10 miles.
I set my alarm a couple of hours before we were supposed to start running. I roll over, open a Clif Bar, eat it and go back to sleep. It seems to work pretty well and allows me to get some food in my system before I set out on those longer runs.
An hour later, I get up for good this time. I have enought time to change, put on a large about of anti-chafing cream, get an adjustment and stretch from my brother (perk of having a chiropractic student in the family) and wake up fully.
Today's run was around Forest Park. Forest Park is a big park in an older money part of town. In addition to just being nice, it is also a new route for me. I never under estimate how nice a "new" run or route can be. I'm reminded of this occasionly and then go weeks where I don't run the same route twice. Makes a huge difference in your mental perception of the run. Overall they seem to go by very slow if there isn't something new to look at.
When we started walking out to the car, I realised just how cold it was outside. It was cool the day before, but today is was especially cold. Casey luckily had a long sleeve shirt that I was able wear. I was stocked up on Gu and water, no more excuses. It was time to go.
Even with the long sleeves, it was still freezing outside. The first part of the run was a little uncomfortable as my fingers stiffened up in the cold air and started to sting. I knew that was going to be the least of worries or uncomforts for the day, so I tuned it out mostly and just kept a conversation going with Casey. This worked but was a few short miles later that mother nature started calling. We were only 3-4 miles in at that point but I still had confidence that I could make it to the end. It slowly got more and more unconfortable but I was still convinced I could hold it. I've mentioned it before, but I'm not big on of stopping unless it is absolutely necessary. We passed up mile 5 and then hit 5.5.
Now every step was a new personal record for Casey. We joked every few second "record...record......record, record, yep another record. For a little bit there I had forgotten that I need to go to the restroom. Not wanting to stop wasn't my only reason for continuing on in discomfort, the park was packed with people and there wasn't anywhere convenient to go. Around 6 miles, I could actually tell it was affecting my running. Then out of nowhere, I saw my prayer of porter potty answered.
They were all the way across a Rugby pitch and a parking lot. I gave Casey a quick glance like keep going - I'll catch you. I sprinted to the Port-a-John of answered prayer, did my business (number 1 if you were curious) and headed back quickly to our route. By now, Casey was completely out of site. I wasn't gone that long so I was surprised at how quickly he disappeared. We had been running a slightly slower pace, so I used the extra bit of energy to pick up the pace several notches. It took me almost a mile but I finally caught him. I was feeling pretty good at this point.
Record, record, another record. We continued on with this game all the way through to 11 miles. Remember, he set out originally to just run 10. I was proud of him for sticking it out and made my first 11 miles fly by. I was a little bummed when he headed off to the car. I think because I knew I still had over 13miles to go.
Basically, we were doing these big laps around Forest Park which are around 5.5 miles. I was starting to feel the first signs of fatigue at this stage but no real soreness or cramping. I moved along quickly through miles 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17 finally hit my first wall around 18 miles. I noticed a small hill at about 4 miles into the loop was getting much more difficult with each lap. I started zig zagging the hill (it works) just to get up it. I remember the hill well because of the T-Rex statue at the top of it. I started calling in T-REX Hill, made me feel better about the fact that it really wasn't that big but sounded hairy. After T-REX hill, I started the miles count-down. Only 6 more, only 5 more...They it turned into "please make it stop...only 4 more miles to go"
With three miles remaining (~22 miles) I was really cramping up and a ton of lactic acid was building up. From there on out, it was a matter of convincing one leg to step out in front of the other. I tried taking in more water and another Gu but the pain was relentless. I reached an uphill section and was ready for my body to revolt at the sheer thought of it. So close, just a little further, come on just a little more, I've got this - those were the types of thoughts running through my head. With every step, the pain intensified and so did my determination. At 24 miles, for the first time in all of my months of training, I finally felt like I had what it takes to cover the distance. Something clicked that told me no matter how much more intense the burn or pain, I had the will to finish. I'm doing a poor job of explaining it, but it was an incredible feeling.
Incredible feeling or not, I hadn't miraculously tuned out what was taking place physically. I went from just 2 more miles to just one more light post, to that trash can, to the edge of the parking lot, 100 yds ahead to the street crossing, 50 yds to the Missouri History Museum, 25 yds to the water fountain, 20yds, 15yds, 10yds, 5yds and there. I did it.
My time was nothing close to spectacular but I learned something important about myself today.
Stats: 24.71 miles - 3:53:12 time - 9:26 pace
Elise was just around the corner and came to get me. I was cramping and legs in state of complete exhaustion but all the while grinning on the inside at the accomplishment. I hadn't mentioned before but I did this run just before a flight to the UK. Some chocolate milk, ibuprofen and a cold shower was just the key to getting ready for 11 hours of flight time that evening. The compression socks also help. No joke, a combination of those things and I actually had an enjoyable flight. Two weeks unitl my next big distance challenge (26 miles).