For a Florida runner, today had to be the perfect day for a long run. The cold front that pushed through yesterday produced cooler temperatures and dryer weather. It was 55 degrees F with a humidity of just under 50%. The sun would warm things up to about 72 degrees F by the time I was finished. There was also a light breeze to keep things feeling cool.
I also got a one hour reprive the return to standard time. Sunrise today was at 6:35 am - and I started my run right about that time. I figured 18 miles would take me just under 4 hours. I was pretty close on my prediction.
For these long runs, I take an easy pace to conserve energy and enjoy listening to podcasts and just any old music along the way. Based on my recent epiphany, I decided to run the first 5 miles without listening to my iPod - so I could really enjoy the journey of my run. I was not disappointed! The birds were singing and the sounds of the morning were wonderful to listen to. I was happy to envelope myself in that - and I didn't feel the need to be distracted from my run.
About 2 miles into my run I realized that I really wanted to have my sunglasses and that I had not used body glide in one area I knew would chafe. With my route bringing me about 1/4 mile from my house, I made a quick side trip / pit stop to pick up the shades and use the powerglide. As I calculated later, it actually added another .6 miles to my run.
I continued on and made my next "stop" at my office. I work about 5.5 miles from my house. With the route I mapped out, I arrived there about 8-9 miles into the run, just in time to refill my water bottles. I checked in with home to let them know I was doing ok (I was already 1 hour 45 min into my run). I continued on my way, running through a quiet UCF campus and out around the nearby roads. My right quad started to ache a bit around mile 10 - but it wasn't too painful. Made me think that I need to cross train more on the elliptical machine to build that muscle up.
I had scheduled a quick stop at the house just 2 miles from the end to get more gatorade. I knew I would run out by then. But, it would be hard to stop there and not be done. Hmmmm, perhaps I could make the last 2 miles without the stop. But as I drew closer to the house, knew I needed the gatorade. It was warming up and I was out of drink.
I made it a quick stop. Fortunately, I had prefilled a couple of fuel belt bottles with gatorade the night before, so all I really needed to do was run in, grab the bottles, and get out of there. I said a quick hello, then beat it out to finish up those last two miles.
Shortly after that is when IT happened. Chris, meet the Wall. Wall, meet Chris. I felt pretty good running up to my house, but about half a mile back out (17 miles into the run) my left leg joined my right leg in aching. The ache extended all the way down my legs. It felt like my quads were getting tighter. My calves started to feel a little stiff as well. Nothing locked up - it was just a tighter feeling, so I kept on going. After all, I was now less than 2 miles from finishing this run. There was no way I was stopping.
I got to my turn around point and now started into my last mile of the run. I pushed my pace up a bit and skipped my walking break - I didn't want to stop running and then have to get going again. In the last tenth of a mile, I opened up my stride and sprinted in. I was done!!!! My final time and distance: 3 hours, 49 minutes, 58 seconds - 18.75 miles. I got home at 10:30 am.
I felt really good! A gatorade, protein shake, and ice bath completed the perfect long run day. And the heel - it is aching. I think I will need to ice that for awhile today as well. Overall, it is hard to deny that today is a good day to be a runner!