It is still amazing to me how many highs and lows one goes through in a long run such as the run I had this morning. Today was make-up 20 mile run, which is the longest training run we have prior to the Marathon in January. Last week was the official 20 miler but I was SICK and a few others missed it too so we made it up today.
Usually we wouldn't "make up" a missed run, just catch up with whatever the group is doing the week we come back. However, while a 20 mile run isn't physically necessary to train for a marathon, often it is mentally needed. First time marathon runners can get pretty freaked out by the mention of these longer miles and 20 seems SOOO much further than 18 for some reason.
I've done marathons before so I know what it feels like to go 20 miles (and 26.2 also), but I still wanted to do it, plus one of my running partners was unable to finish the 20 miler the week before and wanted to do it so I decided to go ahead and do it with her.
The first few miles SUCK. There is no easy way around it. My body is screaming in protest. "Why are you awake this early on a Saturday? Why aren't we comfy and cozy in bed or at least on the couch? What the heck is this repetitive jarring motion? OMG...ARE YOU RUNNING!?!?!?!"
Once my body has given in to the fact that yes I'm awake, yes we are out of bed, and yes I am running (and will be for a while), I am able to settle into a comfortable pace and actually enjoy the running. This finally happened around mile 3 or so and carried me through until about mile 11 or 12. There are of course a few small ups and down within this time but they are still to be considered more up than down, even if the water stops are the best sights in the world.
For some reason mile 12 seems to hold a sort of a wall for me. Not THE WALL that is made out of brick and takes a bulldozer to get through, but a smaller, shorter wall, more of a hurdle, that I still need to get over. This is where the aches and pains first start showing up. Not screaming ones, just little annoying pings of dull pain at this point.
Again, a mile or two later, the dull pinging pain is gone (or I'm numb to it) and I'm doing OK again. However, near the end of the run, in this case, mile 18 is the ever-present, daunting WALL (yes, this is THE WALL). Everything hurts and your body as well as your mind is screaming "WHY OH WHY!?" In an actual marathon it seems to come around mile 20, but for some reason, when you are only doing 20, it hit around 18. Nothing wants to move. It hurts to keep running, however, completely different muscles hurt to walk. At this point it hurts just to be alive and short of changing that state, you must decide which muscles hurt more, the walking or the running ones. It usually changes so you go back and forth between running (shuffling) and walking (dragging your feet) until you get your second wind.
Once you realize that you are actually very close to the end and you CAN make it, spirits lift and the aches and pains seems to dissipate a bit, not completely - they don't completely go away for a day or so haha - but they seem to pale a bit in your pure joy of being almost done. This carries you through the finish line where you can happily collapse amongst cheers and congratulations of your teammates who only did 14 miles (yes, ONLY 14), because they completed their 20 mile run the week before.
It's all for a good cause, it's all for a good cause, it's all for a good cause, it's all for a good cause...