This past Saturday’s long run had 16 miles on the schedule of my 50k training. I mainly run on the Swamp Rabbit Trail because it’s mostly flat and when I get delirious in the longer mileage, I don’t have to think where I’m going. After about mile 15, I am not accountable for what I say or do, let alone where I run. LOL
After last week’s back trouble near the end of my 19 miler, I had dreaded this run all week long. Last week around mile 16, my back pain stopped me in my tracks and brought tears to my face. I had to stop, lay on the ground to relieve my back and finally had to call a friend to come pick me up where I was. This made me angry and worrisome all at the same time. I was worried that the longer mileage was going to put me out of my 50k dream of finishing and as you all know, I broadcast my goals online. This is not for bragging rights, let me tell you. I broadcast my goals and my runs for accountability. If I don’t post anything for a few weeks, people start checking up on me and making sure that I’m still motivated and accomplishing what I said I was going to do. And for those that know me, it takes a lot to get me down.
My running buddy was on vacation this week, so I was a lone wolf for my long run. I decided to start on the Travelers Rest side of the SRT and mix it up. It wasn’t until I started to run that I decided to just let the road take me to wherever it may lead. I ran all over downtown Traveler’s Rest and started taking side roads, not knowing where they may lead. I saw a steep hill on another side road and took it just because of the hill. Besides, I’ll never get better at running hills unless I run them. I ran to the top, turned around and looked back, and the smile on my face was all I felt.
I got a call from my mom after about an hour and a half in and wanted to meet up for a few miles. So, I circled back and ran/walked with her for a couple miles. The Gatorade she brought was a Godsend. I, then, continued on the SRT toward Furman and ran all over campus. Another 5k race was going on. I ran alongside them and encouraged a few runners along the way. As I was passing the waterstop, they offered me a bottle of water. I told them I wasn’t in the race, but they smiled and said, “That’s okay. Looks like you’re in it for the long haul.” At this point, the sun was getting a little higher, so most of that water ended up on my head.
I got back on the trail and was plugging along. I passed a few runners I knew, nodded or waved, asked how many miles they were doing today and felt encouraged knowing that I wasn’t the only one out here going through this addictive torture we call “happiness.”
About this time, the motorcycle cop that patrols the trail, slowed down to my pace and started up a conversation with me. It went a little like this: “Looks like you’re out here for a while. I always think that when I see you runners with those belts around your waste with the bottles on them.” “Yeah, I have 16 on the agenda today.” “How can you all run that far?” “Well, it’s 90% mental, honestly. It’s a mental battle. Your body can last longer than your mind can. So, you just have to train your mind.” “Yeah? I used to run when I was younger, but not much now. Well, I admire you for it and have fun, if that’s what you’re doing!” I laughed and smiled and said, “Yes, thank you! I wouldn’t do it if I weren’t.” He rode away shaking his head with a smile.
I finished my 16 miles with mostly no back pain, thankfully. Sometimes, a simple run, no matter how long, can renew your strength in yourself and in humankind. I’m not a fast runner, as I’ve mentioned before. I run for the love of it. And I thoroughly loved my run Saturday by mixing it up with running roads that I didn’t know where they ended or where they went. I have 20 miles on the schedule for this coming Saturday. Let’s just say that I plan on getting lost. On purpose. The mystery of it is kind of its own high. So, I’ll be in bed Friday night around 8:30pm in order to get high on Saturday morning around 5:30am. Yes, I know it’s crazy. They should make pills for this.