It turns out that I needed a number of mental tricks to get through the entire run. I was doing the entire thing solo. 4 hours of running all by myself gives my brain LOTS of time to psych myself out. Yesterday was really much more about winning the head game and not giving in to the doubt. I'm going to walk you through all the tricks I used.
In the first 11 miles:
- I started s-l-o-w then kept it feeling really easy. I wanted to keep my heart rate around 139 bpm, which is comfortable once I am warmed up.
- Instead of focusing on the ENTIRE distance - which made me nervous - I just focused on trying to figure out when I wanted to fuel. I took on my first GU at 3 miles, so then I decided I would fuel again at mile 8, 13 & 17-18.
- I got beeped at by my former running partner, Lisa, and that picked up my spirits for a good bit.
- As I ran past breakfast places I took deep breaths and inhaled lots of yummy food scents.
- I focused on easy. I focused on slow. I remembered that honestly and truly, I just wanted to finish this thing in its entirety.
- There were a lot of other runners out there. There was one runner, he was running the opposite way on a busy street. He and I exchanged big grins and "Good Mornings!" I think he was out for a long, long run too. He had his hydration belt fully packed, just like mine. His smile and energy stuck with me for quite awhile.
- The skies started getting ugly and dark. Rain was approaching earlier than the weather had predicted. OH NO!! I HATE running in the rain. I just told myself that Mother Nature decided I was too stinky and needed to get washed off. That made me giggle as I was running along.
- I refill my water bottles at the same water fountain in Piedmont Park. Whenever I try another fountain it never works. So, I was looking forward to refilling my water bottles.
- I counted down the miles to each fueling point.
- I turned up my music.
- Around mile 16 my legs really started complaining. I had a conversation with them (no really, I did). I told them that I am strong and my legs are the STRONGEST part of my body. Between BodyPump and Group Cycling, there is nothing my legs can't handle. So get with the program legs, be strong, support the joints and live up to my expectations. Much to my shock that little pep talk worked wonders. It completely shut down the leg complaints for a few miles. I had to do it again a few more times, but it worked each time.
- I focused on my running form. I used Jeff Galloway's tips: run as though a string is pulling you up from the top of your head, run lightly on your feet. Again, each time I reminded myself of these things, I could feel it get easier.
- I hit mile 21 and I had a killer hill ahead of me. Slow. Steady. Finish strong. Finish healthy. I cranked up the music even louder.
- I watched my Garmin tick over to 22.00 and I did a happy dance, right there, in the middle of the street. I had done it.
Distance: 22.00 miles
Total time: 3:55:25
Average moving pace: 10:42 min/mi
Average HR: 131 bpm
Last 3 miles pace: 10:17; 10:19; 10:17. With the exception of mile 13 (10:18) those are my fastest 3 miles of the entire run.
I finished feeling like I wanted to go further and that I could do more. That actually leaves me feeling pretty excited about the race in 5 weeks.
And here is my public service announcement: when you are running or walking, smile at the oncoming runner/walker - you could be the reason they push through whatever mental challenge they are facing and trying to overcome. That guy in the red shirt on McLendon - he completely helped me through as did Lisa's smile and wave. The power of a smile should never be underestimated.
And for the record, I feel really good today. I am not sore, my legs are actually in pretty good shape. I'll spend some time with my trusted foam roller and I have a massage tomorrow. The one thing that I am working on is eating. I can't get enough food - I need to keep eating. First world problems, indeed.