It was Mile 14 and my legs were getting sore. My brain, meanwhile, was shutting down. I felt bad for Jenny having to endure my huffs, puffs and lack of contribution to the conversation but was so grateful she was with me. My first 20 mile training run was going just fine, but this was the cusp where it could have all fallen apart.
My training these days is focused on the Wineglass Marathon and my weekends are ruled by long runs. I already had put in a pair of 18-milers and one 17-mile hike. This weekend came the marathon training milestone — 20-miles. Turns out Jenny, training for a 70.3 triathlon, had a 16-miler on her schedule and needed someone to force her to run slow. Hey, you need to run slow? I am your gal! On the flip side, I needed company, positive reinforcement and someone who would push me just a little bit. It seemed rather win-win. Granted, by the time we hit the 14 mile mark, I was starting to fade and lose focus. My pace slowed down and my mind was shutting down. But I reinforced to myself the purpose of the long run– to be on my feet for a long time, to put in the miles, practice my nutrition plan and, most importantly, train myself mentally. To be quite honest, my mind usually wants to quit well before my body does, even when my body is experience discomfort. My body is a lot stronger and wiser than my mind gives it credit for.
Anyway, back to poor Jenny who had to carry the conversation for much of the last 5K we spent together. I was eternally grateful for her easy chatter, keeping me my mind occupied and making me feel like I was strong enough to battle through this tough part and finish off the run that much more prepared for Wineglass. Honestly, I don’t think I could thank her enough. It was especially gratifying because Jenny and I haven’t talked in some time. But as we both met up on Sunday morning, we picked up right where we left off. These are the types of friends I cherish. See with Jenny, as with some other good friends, I always knew I could call on her if I needed. Life just happened, we both got busy, and we fell out of touch. No harm. No foul. No big deal. When the time came, we picked back up. Two girlfriends who love training and talking triathlon, racing and boys. A little bit of gossip, a lot of laughing and the absence of drama or pretense. We were just two gals out on Sunday morning and any anxiety I had about a 20-mile training run disappeared after our first mile.
I polished off those final four miles by myself. They were ugly, but totally doable and I finished with a smile. For real. This was my first 20-miler, my longest training run ever. I slogged it out both myself and with moral support. This was cause for celebration and so once I arrived back home, I made myself some pancakes. (Ok, I made myself a lot of pancakes. Others were invited. It’s not my fault they didn’t show.) As I savored my brunch I had the very beginnings of a light bulb moment. Let me tell you the secret: I might actually be gaining confidence about the Wineglass Marathon. Yes, I might actually believe I can run a personal best, not just hope for it. That spark of confidence is created inside of me, but it helps when the people around me encourage that spark to catch.
I don’t know what I was more proud of Sunday, running my first 20-miler or eating my weight in pancakes. Either way, it was a beautiful morning not just to challenge myself and celebrate but to reconnect with a friend. We talk again tomorrow or we may not talk for months. But what I know for sure is that surrounding myself with positive, energetic supportive people is not as difficult as I once made it out to be. They are near me all the time. I just have to look for them and ask.