One down and, like, eleventy billion to go.

This felt like my first “big” weekend with the whole marathon training thing.  One weekend is now in the books.  And an incomprehensible number more to go.

On Saturday, I had to run 7 miles at marathon pace. 

First off – marathon pace??   I have absolutely NO idea what marathon pace may or may not be.  Well – that’s not true – there’s the marathon pace I’d LOVE to run.  There’s the marathon pace I’d be pretty excited about running.  There’s even the marathon pace that I’d be pretty satisfied with.  And then… there’s the marathon pace that lives in reality instead of in my dreams.

So, I decided to start off at what I thought was a conservative pace and get faster from there to see if I could find a “sweet spot”.  That turned out to be one of those “good in concept, not so good in implementation” ideas.  I started out somewhere around 10 minute miles, and moved down to about 9:30’s for the last few miles.  And, as it turns out, anything sub-10 is more a of tempo pace for me these days.  How frustrating!

But, in the end, that run felt good.  I worked, sweat a lot, finished up feeling like I had accomplished something.

And then – Sunday.  14 miles.  Uh oh.

I decided to tackle it in two 7-mile loops to give me a break to refuel (and, uh, defuel, if you know what I mean).  The first loop? Not exactly my definition of “fun”.  Legs started out feeling heavy and sore and my mind was set on trying to get me to stop.  Running at my long run pace was difficult – and long run pace is supposed to be the speed where you feel like you could run forever.  Me?  I could barely fathom finishing off the first 7 mile loop.

But – I somehow managed to squash my basic instincts to stop and toughed it out.  And once I hit home and took in some more nutrition and water (and took a minute to stretch out my incredibly tight achilles and calves), the second loop didn’t seem quite so daunting.  Or, at least, I couldn’t come up with a good, believable excuse not to go out and run it.

The second loop was an interesting little thing.  The first three miles went by with a “whoosh!” kind of feeling.  Like, when you’re driving somewhere and look up and realize that you’ve missed your exit by 20 miles.  All of a sudden I was done with 10 miles.

Miles 11-12… working, working, working… but getting it done and feeling mostly okay.  The end of the run seemed tantalizingly near.

Miles 13-14?  Well, let’s just say that every car that passed, I was hoping it was someone I knew (or even just a car I recognized) so that I could flag it down and tell them to bring my broken, beaten body back home.

And that was only 14 miles.  Last time I checked?  Yea, a marathon is 26 miles. 

It freaks me out that this itty bitty little 14-miler did that to me.  That it pushed me to that place that I only associate with the end of half ironmans and the last few miles of a full marathon.  Seems to spell trouble, doesn’t it?

And then I rationalize:  I ran 7 miles the day before.  I didn’t eat like I should have the night before.  I ran much later than I usually do.  That all makes a difference, right?

I suppose I’ll find out.

You know, in one of those eleventy billion weekends I have ahead of me.

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