18 Miles Of Mind Games

Last weekend I did an 18-miler. EIGHTEEN! I can’t even believe I’m typing that number.

But really, I knew my legs and my feet (kinda) would get me through it. Thanks to Coach Erin, I’ve done a steady, progressive buildup of milage on my long runs to reach this point. What I find to be the hardest, most challenging barrier is my big ole’ fat BRAIN.

Case in point: Getting up at an ungodly hour to run an ungodly amount of miles. Sometimes I feel like an alien has taken over my brain, because I don’t even recognize this person.

marathon training long run

The pre-dawn version of myself and Lori.

Thank god for running friends. Lori’s training schedule finally meshed with mine and we both had 18 to do. We were going to pickup Mary, then Jen along the way. (BTW, Lori, who is a badass unto herself, is running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. at the end of the month.) 18 miles is a long way to run with one person, but being that she’s okay with me being a Chatty McChatterton, she’s a friend for life in my book.

Fall is just starting to arrive here in New England, so while I took many shots with my camera, most of the time it didn’t have enough light to focus. But here’s some of the run’s photo highlights that made it:

marathon training long run

The obligatory trees-changing-color shot to set the mood.

The first 2 miles were fairly flat, just to tease us. Then, nothin’ but hills. Just the way I like it.

marathon training long run

And up.we.go.

There was the usual wildlife spotting. This time: turkeys.

marathon training long run

Gobble gobble.

Miles 4, 5, 6 ticked by. Feeling good. So good, I forgot to eat my usual energy gel at mile 5. So by the time we got to Danbury to pick up Mary at mile 7, I was all, “Why do my feet feel so heavy on this flat part?” DUH.

Mind trick #1: Feeling so good…leads to forgetting to fuel…leads to heavy legs.

marathon training long run

Holla, Mary! Thanks for the water!

After a pit stop and some hydration, the three of us set up back from whence we came. Mile 8, 9.

Mile 10. Huge hill. No talking. Chins held in a determined position. I’m picturing the Queensboro Bridge (the big hill at mile 16 in the NY Marathon) in my head and telling it to kiss my a*s. “Don’t stop” I say to myself over and over.

Mind Game #2: Visualizations and mantras aren’t just for yoga. They help you channel your inner Chuck Norris.

Here’s a kind of blurry shot of the three of us, plodding along.

marathon training long run

Nice form, Lori. Nice tired/goofy look, Nancy.

When I run this route, I try to drop bottles of fluids ahead of time. I like to choose this lcoation for it’s house number and creative use of rocks:

marathon training long run

Lucky number 26.

It’s at this point, about mile 11, that I’m starting to fatigue, just a little, and all the whatifs start to enter my brain. That’s usually a sign I need carbs, stat!  So I take another gel.

Mind game #3: When your body is on empty, the doubts will creep in and take hold. Time to carb up.

Mile12, 13. Time to meet up with Jen, even if she’s blurry!

marathon training long run

She’s the tiny blue smudge. Sorry Jen.

At this point, my dogs were barking! My feet were ballooning up and I could just tell my index toes were getting pummeled against the toe box of my shoes. Plus, I was starting to feel my plantar fasciitis whisper rudely in my ear. On the plus side, my hamstrings felt pretty good. I wasn’t injured, just tired and getting sore. Not a good enough reason to stop.

Mind game #4: There are no promises of easy in this training. As the most brilliant tag line in history says, JUST DO IT.

One last beauty shot:

marathon training long run

Mile 16-ish, with Mary and Lori pulling ahead a bit: My mind was starting to blank out all of this so-called “beauty” around me.

At this point, I don’t remember much. The last couple of miles I just switch it into Run-Forrest-Run mode. Each breath gets noticed and I check my milage a little too often.

Mind game #5: To get through the end, just blank out and GO.

DONE! And guess what: My last two miles were the fastest of the whole darn run.


A quick celebration shot from the rear bumper of my car with the self-timer:

marathon training long run

The shot’s not crooked – it’s just that were all about ready to keel over.

Thank you, running posse! See you for the 20 miler in 2 weeks!

4 thoughts on “18 Miles Of Mind Games

  1. WooHoo! Way to go, something about running long distances with friends make it seem easier than even a 3 mile run alone. It’s great you have a strong support group!

  2. Pingback: The Too Bad, So Sad, Your Granddad Marathon, Part II: The Race | See Nancy Run.

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