I'm close to the end of week 10 in my training plan. My last entry hinted that my journey to the half marathon might be at a premature end, pending the outcome of a long run.
The results are in: all is well.
My training plan called for an eight mile run. The weather was exquisite last Saturday: sunny and cool as befits a late summer day on the cusp of autumn. I decided that long runs were best attempted on the Airline Trail, a rails-to-trails project that runs from East Hampton through Colchester, Hebron, and beyond. It's a straight shot, interrupted periodically by intersecting streets. I drove to a small parking lot off Route 85 and found the wooden post with the numeral ten on the left side of the trail. Miles are marked by numbered posts along the entire length, so keeping track of my progress was mindless and easy.
The surface is packed, dressed gravel that's easier on the feet than pavment. There's a canopy of leaves overhead. The trees seemed to act like a natural wind tunnel: there was an intermittent, comfortable breeze in my face for most of the run. Lots of other people had the same idea as me: to be out on foot, bike, or horse on a beautiful day. The traffic was still light compared to my usual routes on the road.
The first five miles felt easy. I was comfortable the whole time. I had trouble seeing the post with the five on it, because it was obscured by shrubs. I ran past it for a minute before turning back and correcting my error. The miles added up with each step. Soon I had matched my previous best of seven miles; then eight and nine went by. That last mile was a struggle mentally. My feet were tired. A muscle in my right inner thigh complained a little every time I lifted my foot. I kept waiting for "runner's high" to make an appearance and ease my suffering, but endorphins were in short supply. I only had two thoughts: to finish the run and to stop. I managed to accomplish both, finishing the run in 1:42. It was the longest run of my life. Now I know that I must have been hallucinating when I recalled a run of that distance when I was 21. There's no way I would have had the patience to run for that long a period of time.
I was dog tired for the rest of the day, but recovery was swift. I had a good yoga session at home on Sunday, and my regular ninety minute class on Monday night. I soon felt like myself again.
I've had two more runs since that personal best. I ran four miles inside on the track on Tuesday, because weather threatened to make running impossible after work. Conditions were delightful after work tonight. I ran the three miles that my plan called for. Dare I say it? The run felt easy. I experienced no pain anywhere. I could have done more. I had a lot of gas in the tank when I returned home.
Saturday will mean twelve miles on the Airline Trail. I'll be in uncharted waters again. My confidence is growing. I think I might succeed in this venture.