I have been itching to run long for a while. Last weekend’s Heartbreaker Half was the longest I had run in quite some time. November of 2012 was my last half marathon and running anything more than 13.1 miles hadn’t happened since probably June of 2012 when I ran the Newport Marathon. I love running long for reasons I can’t quite explain. I know it has something to do with endorphins and seeing just how far I can push myself – but I don’t think that’s all of it.
Originally I intended to run with a large group that gathers on Saturday in various locations in the Portland area to run long. This past Saturday they were on my side of town, less than a 15 minute drive away. They were doing 20 miles. I haven’t run 20 miles in a while, a long while, but I was open to it, if for no other reason than to remind myself I can actually run 20 miles.
I got in touch with a friend who also lives on my side of town and sometimes runs with this group and asked if she was planning to do the 20 on Saturday. Unfortunately, she had to work on Saturday and was going to do her long run on Sunday. Besides, she said, she had only planned to run 18. She was running alone on Sunday and asked if I was interested in running with her instead of the group on Saturday. I love her, so of course I said yes.
We planned to run the same route the large Saturday run group had run, since the coach puts maps of the route up on Facebook for everyone to see. The run was two different ten mile loops. Some of the run encompassed parts of a route that I use when I run long (alone) and other parts encompassed parts of a route that she used when she ran on her own. We figured between the two of us we could figure out ways to cut a couple miles off and meet her goal of 18.
We met up at 7 a.m. It was cold and kind of drizzly but it wasn’t raining. I flashed back to the Heartbreaker Half when I was cold the entire time and dressed a little warmer. Which is to say I put a thermal top on over my sports bra and under my shirt.
The first part of the route was new to both of us and it was really pretty. We ran over the freeway and up into an area of Tualatin I was not familiar with. At mile 5 we rounded this gentle curve in the corner to stare at this unrelenting hill that appeared to be STRAIGHT up. I groaned and said “are you kidding me.” Thankfully my running partner said “move your arms, your legs will follow, hold your head up, stick your chest out, tuck your ass in and run up the f*cking hill.” Of course it made me laugh, but I did what she directed and got my ass up that hill and then recovered as we ran down the gentle downhill on the other side. It was awesome and I was so glad she was with me because had it been me alone, I likely would have started up that hill, gotten to a mid-way point and allowed myself to walk up the rest. A key reason I have come to love running with others. It pushes me harder than I push myself.
We ran, we talked, we laughed. It rained a little, misted a little, the sun came out and we continued on our way. We got lost in an industrial parking lot, backtracked and cut off a couple of streets to try and keep our mileage at 18 – I wanted it to be over at mile 14. Really wanted to be done. My thighs were burning, my calves were screaming at me, my mind was telling me enough already and I just wanted to be done – but it wasn’t just about me and I had promised to run this 18 with her. So I bitched a little, got her to walk a little, caught my breath, downed a Stinger gel pack and we ran those last 4 miles. Amazingly, I found an extra bit of adrenaline for the last half a mile and raced her back to the car. Ha! Not sure where that came from.
All told, my Garmin said we ran 18.67 miles. Her Garmin said 18.93 which is probably more accurate since my Garmin is set on auto pause and hers was not. Auto pause is great, but it can lose some of your distance because it doesn’t start right up the second you start moving – so in reality, I believe we actually ran almost 19 miles.
We celebrated the accomplishment with breakfast and mimosas and a beer. It was a great day and a fabulous run.
I’m thinking I may run some of that route again next Saturday on my own, but start at my house. I put the route I am considering up on Map My Run and it says it’s a little over 20 miles – that seems appropriate after the almost 19 yesterday.
I’ll be alone and will have to push myself up that hill (and the others) – but I’ll just pretend she’s with me and imagine she’s yelling “move your arms, your legs will follow, hold your head up, stick your chest out, tuck your ass in and run up the f*cking hill.”
Running friends are the best!