Jump to the end. I finished 16 miles this morning. My longest run in well over a year.
At mile 12 I started to lose focus. I quickly realized that was because for the first 10.5 miles I had friends with me and now I was on my own. Time to suck it up and face the final miles just as I will have to do in the marathon.
Rewind to the start of my run at 8:00 a.m. at the gravel parking lot at Lower Perk Park, Oaks. I arrived about 7:50 and I was getting myself together Sherry pulled in. What an awesomely pleasant surprise! It was wonderful to catch up with her as we ran the 4+ miles over to the Valley Forge Loop. She turned around here to go back as she had a spa date at 10 a.m. I was so happy to spend that time with her.
At the visitor center I met up with Caroline B and Kristi Y. John T pulled in shortly after. We said our goodbyes to Kristi who was going to walk the loop and the three of us headed off. Sherry and I did 2 mile run; 1 minute walk on the way over. For the loop we did 3 minute run; 1 minute walk off Caroline's phone. I admit I was kind of hoping that's what we would do. I haven't run the loop since John T and I did it 3 times for our 15 mile run last September. Most of my runs for this training have been flat unless I'm around Media but none of those compare to the contiued up and down of the VF Loop. 3 and 1 was just fine with me. As we approached the bathrooms at Wayne's Woods John suggested we take the long way around which adds a hill but also added mileage which we all needed. We also ran up the hill and around the visitor center to return to the parking lot rather than cutting off down County Line road so by the time we were finished I was just under 10.5 miles. I only stayed there a few minutes because I didn't want to lose momentum. I thanked them for the run and went out County Line road to head back to the 422 bridge. It was great to see Kristi coming back from her loop then :)
So about the bridge. Last night I had a nightmare about the bridge. Actually I need to back up a bit. I was a bundle of nerves most of the day yesterday. Thankfully I was pretty busy at work or it would have been worse. I was worried about this run and about going to a new place to do it. The original plan was to go to Penny Pack Park. It meant driving almost an hour to run alone and likely in the rain. The trail runners would be there but really I can't keep up with them. Finally, last night I decided to bag the idea of going to Penny Pack and stick with familiar territory. I knew there was a group meeting at VF at 9 so I knew I could do 4 or 5 before that and meet up with them. That calmed the nerves considerably. Until I went to sleep last night. I had a dream that I fell through the wood planks on the bridge and into the Schuylkill River below. Great :(. I tried to shake it off because it was just a dream. However, when Sherry and I approached the bridge there was caution tape flapping in the breeze of the traffic on 422. This is what it was marking:
I had to take the photo so you would beleieve me!
Ok so back to my final 5.5 miles. I headed back to the SRT - over the bridge stopping to take that photo - and turned right toward Norristown. I realized that if I went left I was probably going to get to my car before 16 miles. I decided I couldn't deal with that. So I headed right and ran a little more than a mile until the watch beeped off mile number 12. I turned around and headed back. I was back on 2 miles and 1 minute walk break now.
At mile 14 I took a little extra time to strecth out my back which was starting to get wonky. I thought about stopping again at mile 15 but by the time 15 arrived I was starting to pick up momentum. Not a lot mind you but enough that I convinced myself that I could finish this without another stop. I ended up with about 3/4 mile to walk to the car. That was fine too I needed the cool down and stretch of my legs before the drive home.
I'm pretty excited about this run. I know it was slower in the end than the beginning. I finished 3:12:51 which is just over 12 minutes miles but I'm sure I was well into 12 minutes miles in the last couple. And I know I went too fast with Sherry. Not her fault. She's a great buddy and will run slow with me but she'll also pick up speed if I do. So it was up to me to keep the pace under control and I'm pretty sure I didn't. We'll see Sunday when I upload my Garmin. But none of that is as important right now as having finished it. My longest run in a very long time and I feel good. My legs are used but not abused. I don't feel like I have to take a nap either.
Thanks for reading! :)