Friday, December 6, 2013

Lost in the miles

Last week, I ran 59 miles, this week I'm going to be running 57. This is the highest mileage I've run in a year. I am really loving my long runs. I've had a longest run of 14 each Sunday, and then a couple of other double digit runs scattered throughout the week. And they've given me just the tiniest bit of thirst for longer distance. I actually ran 15.5 miles - the longest I've ran in over 2 years. I finished it in just under 2 hours, so under 7:30 pace for over half a marathon. I'm not chomping at the bit yet - there isn't a marathon on the horizon. But I've just appreciated how much I've enjoyed that transformation that takes place when you do spend more than an hour on a run.
On pre-dawn runs, when it is pitch black, it is very quiet and still. I'll wake up at 5 (and I know some of you out there get up even earlier - but I have my limits) and there's a lot of hesitation. Did I really need to get up this early? How cold is it? How stiff am I? Oh good grief, just get out there and get moving. I've been carrying a small flashlight to light the way, and occasionally on the trail, I'm greeted by another beacon of light. When it's another runner, the light bobs up and down. When it's a cyclist, it is steady. And for those few seconds, it is the sign of another person out there getting in a workout before the start of a day. But then they would continue in the opposite direction donning neon clothing. Running by houses, I'll see some of the lights on - an early bird rising, but a lot of dark houses too. A bunny hops across the trail, a deer scampers quickly, clearly not expecting company. And it's just me and my thoughts, enjoying the quiet. Plus, as the holiday season is upon us, there are these fun surprises to stumble upon.
Merry Christmas in Vienna (Virginia)
But on the way back, after 8 or so miles, and it's still not even 7AM, the first hints of a sunrise emerge, the sky beginning to pink up. And in the course of that kind of run, you realize the transformation that takes place. We've moved from night to day, and the whole world is waking up. I went from doubtful to exhilarated. I had my first victory for the day, and was ready to fight the other battles of the day.
And there are other transformations too. On my long runs, I've been running on the W&OD trail, which moves from town to town: Vienna, Reston, Herndon, etc. That really shows the distance - traveling from place to place, not just running around a town, but legitimately changing towns. And just feeling comfortable being out there for 2 hours - that's a cool feeling, to know I can comfortably hang out there on the road and not be too trashed/exhausted after.
There are no speed workouts, so the pace of all of these runs are flexible. But other than being perhaps tired from a longer run, there is no soreness that I would feel that day after a track workout or tempo run. So, my legs are actually feeling pretty fresh.
There's no pressure. Yes, I'm following a schedule. But there are no races scheduled yet - I'll do one Reindeer Race, but nothing is even thought of for 2014. And so it is really more just for the fun of it right now. The miles are piling up (as are the desserts!) and I'm just enjoying running in its simplest state. And as Henry David Thoreau said, "Simplify, simplify, simplify!"

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