Too Legit to Quit

This summer has been a tough one for running. Right when I was getting into the thick of my half-marathon training, Philadelphia turned into a tropical rainforest. Most nights, it didn’t dip below 70 degrees, and on top of that, we were fighting 95% humidity. Even if I went out for my runs as early as 6AM, it was already sticky and hot. My passion for running was seriously waning.

I started giving into my desire to walk more and more, and my average pace was getting slower and slower. I started dreading my long runs, and I even contemplated quitting for several days. I honestly could not imagine running 13.1 miles EVER — but especially not in those temperatures. Not only is it hard to keep going in the heat, but I’ve been having some uncomfortable chafing issues. Thank goodness for my stash of New Skin products. I finally had a chance to make use of the Liquid Bandage and now I am making sure to use the Anti-Chafing spray so I don’t have any more problems.

My race is scheduled for September 14th, so the weather is a real crapshoot. It may be a cool, crisp fall day, or it may be scorching hot. There is no way to know. I’m not sure what ever inspired me to sign up for a half-marathon during one of the hottest months of the year, but I was seriously beginning to doubt my commitment to this race.

Then a couple of weeks ago, our weather pattern changed overnight, and since then we’ve had unseasonably cool weather. I started waking up to 60 degrees as opposed to 75, and the humidity was all but gone.

Suddenly running was fun again. It’s AMAZING how much difference the weather makes!

I also went running a few times with a friend who really pushes me, AND I finally invested in a hydration belt so I don’t have to carry my water or drive around and plant bottles along my route.

I feel so legit now!

Nathan Speed 2 Waistpack with Two 10-Ounce Nutrition Flasks
A week ago, I ran my long run alone. It was the first time I’d run nine miles, and I went to a nearby trail that is fairly flat. The weather was perfectly cool and crisp, and I brought my hydration pack and 2 energy gels (I love the Hammer Chocolate GEL). I ran the nine miles fairly effortlessly, and I felt great afterwards. My calves and feet weren’t even that sore. That was the day we left for vacation.

The weather in the Poconos last week was glorious for running — 55 degrees in the mornings and only a high of 75 all day. I had a couple of good shorter runs during the week, and then on Friday I set out to run six. (I was scheduled to run six miles on Friday and nine on Sunday after I got home. If you’re interested, you can check out my Half Marathon Training Plan for Beginners.)

I started thinking (what else is there to do when you’re running by yourself for an hour??) and debating where to run my nine on Sunday. I had no friend to run with, and I hate going to a secluded trail alone; but I also know that running that far on pavement is bad for my feet and calves, plus the roads around my house are very hilly. As I ran, I noticed how flat it was and how safe I felt. Plus the weather was beautiful.

I started to consider going ahead and running nine miles right then and there and imagined how nice it would be to have my “long run” out of the way for the week. I was feeling energetic and strong, and there was no way to know how I’d feel on Sunday. Plus there was the whole issue of where to run at home, and nine miles is a lot to fit in before church.

Around mile four, I decided I was going to push through and get it over with.

You know how you hear people talking about the “runner’s high” and the feeling that you could run forever? Well, I’ve been waiting for that moment to happen to me. There have been plenty of times when I’ve felt great and enjoyed portions of my runs, but rarely do I feel like I could run forever (nor would I even want to!)

But on Friday, the farther I ran, the better I felt, and the faster I was running. Then something truly magnificent happened. Okay, magnificent might be pushing it, but it was a breakthrough for me!

I was still about a half mile from our rental home when the automated voice from my Jogger app spoke into my ear announced the nine mile mark. On most of my runs, I’m eagerly waiting for this moment to stop running and start my recovery, but this time was different.

I DIDN’T WANT TO STOP.

This is when all of you non-runners out there can reach through the computer screen and slap me. Go ahead; I know you wanna!

But I am dead serious. I could not stop. One of my favorite songs was playing on my iPod, and I felt like I was soaring. I was smiling from ear to ear. Suddenly I knew I was going to keep running till I hit 10 miles.

And you know what else I knew at that moment? I could have run 13.1.

I finished my 10 miles with energy to spare, and when I looked at my average pace, I could NOT believe it.

I knew I felt like I was flying, but I had no idea I was averaging a 9:45 minute-mile pace. I typically run a 10:30 to 11:00 minute-mile pace on my longer runs. Even on shorter runs, a 9:45 average pace is pretty good for me.

For the first time, I was confident that I can do this half marathon thing. It may not be that easy on race day. No matter how hard I train, the weather could sabotage me, I may find myself injured or feeling weak or stiff or depleted. It depends on so many factors.

But I know I CAN do it. For now that’s enough.