Even though Lauren and I complete a long run together every Saturday, this past weekend's run was a pretty big milestone for us. We're training for the San Francisco Marathon, and we needed to run 20 miles on Saturday. We've been slowly building up to the distance, so adding just a single mile onto our previous Saturday's run shouldn't have seemed like such a big deal. But, this run proved to both of us that we really can do this; we're completely capable of this daunting time goal of ours.
By now it's probably no surprise that I live off of pancakes for breakfast every day. Fueling for a long early morning run is no different. We've been trying to wake up a lot earlier on Saturday mornings to get all of our miles in before it gets way too hot, which means that we have to wake up even earlier just to eat breakfast. So yes, I woke up at 5 AM to make and eat pancakes, and I don't regret it one bit.
Our past several long runs have been a tad on the slower side for us; we were both overcoming separate injuries. I had hoped that this 20 mile run might be a little faster than our previous runs, but I honestly wasn't counting on it. I kept reminding myself that this was only a training run and pace doesn't matter, only the distance does.
While I do wear a "fancy" running watch that has the capability to show my current pace and overall pace, I seldom use these features. I'm definitely curious, but I know that if I'm constantly worrying about how fast I'm running, all of the pleasure would be sucked out of running. All that's to say, is that I hadn't the faintest idea what our speed was while we were running, and Lauren's watch lost GPS signal so she wasn't able to check either. Lauren asked me to check our overall pace after mile 11 (our turnaround point), and I was surprised that we were able to keep that pace despite the elevation gains through the Wissahickon trails. At that point, our overall pace was 10:16 minutes per mile, and I doubted that we'd be able to keep that up as I feared we started out running way too fast.
Typically Lauren and I both struggle a little bit the last 3-5 miles of our long runs. We're tired, hot and sweaty, and just want to be done. We normally have to constantly encourage each other to keep moving. This time though, I didn't have the urge to quit and lay down on the side of the road. Don't worry, I've never actually done that. I found eating a packet of Gu Chomps (1 per mile) throughout the last five miles of a long run to be the perfect cure. It gives me something to look forward to, helps pass the time, and most importantly gives me a boost of energy to make it to the end. I'm so glad I found what works for me and will definitely use this strategy on race day.
Even though this was an ordinary weekend for Lauren and me, I never regret running with my best friend. Sometimes we're on the struggle bus and have mini meltdowns. Even then, spending hours stuck together isn't that horrible. We always find a way to work through our issues and motivate one another to finish strong. To me, that's what having a best friend is all about! Thanks for running a fast 20 miles with me (we finished with a 10:08 overall pace!), Lauren! Thank goodness this weekend is a step back run!