Wednesday, August 15, 2007

18 Miles and STILL Running....

Last Saturday, I ran my first ever 18 miles....(or what was just supposed to be 18 miles....)...and during this run, I experienced my first ever SERIOUS "Why the hell am I doing this???" thought....That thought has come to me before - several times, but it was something I always used to just brush aside, because things were never really that bad....and I was always reminded of my 3 main goals - get fit - reach my endurance goal - raise funds for Asha - and that used to be enough for me to want to go on!! But last Saturday - was the first time where I came really close to wanting to absolutely give up!!....

I woke up at 4am that morning, feeling strong and confident. I had done 2 16-milers already, and was looking forward to tackling this 18-miler. Several runners have told me before that upto 18 miles, the physical endurance plays a big part, but after that, it becomes a more mental challenge....So this was going to be quite a milestone and I was feeling good....

The run started well - we ran through the trail, then along the Lake Austin Boulevard stretch....it was after I made the right on Enfield, that my little "adventure" started....I was looking out for a turn - on Pecos - but for some reason..missed it....I ended up running the whole of Enfield trying to find it - until I hit Mopac.....I was separated from the group at this point. Most of the other 11-13min/mile runners had not shown up this week and I was pretty much solo by the time I reached mile 5. At the junction of Enfield and the Mopac, I met another lost runner!...We debated on what to do - we could try to run back on Enfield and find Pecos or keep going north on the Mopac feeder. We knew that we would eventually hit Far West - where we needed to cross Mopac! We chose Option 2 and continued running. We ran past Windsor, Westeover and kept going. The roads were slightly hilly and winding but still manageable. I had my water bottle with me and that helped both me and my fellow lost runner get by without needing a waterstop. We finally hit Exposition - a familiar road which we knew would lead us back on track....

Exposition, for those who have driven on it, is not a fun road to run on at all - it's where the coaches typically take us to do the dreaded HILL WORKOUTS.....UGH...at the end of it though...we reached 35th Street....which I knew would get me to Balcones and back on track!!...My fellow lost runner took off at this point - I was extremely grateful to have had his company but I knew he had been running at a slower pace for me - which was very sweet and considerate of him! I continued on Balcones - this was quite a long stretch FULL of steep ups and downs, and having just run all the hills on Exposition, I had a miserable time running these new hills...I ended up walking a few of the uphills - although I really didn't want to - but my legs just felt so darn energy-less!!...And it was right in the middle of one of these hills, in what felt middle of nowhere, that I came to a standstill and asked myself what the hell I was doing!!....My 3 goals floated in front of me - I just remember thinking - wot the heck, I'm fitter than the average person, I don't really need to meet the self-imposed endurance goal, and well there was Asha - I was thinking if I could get away with writing a big fat check?..... I literally stood there....motionless for 5 whole minutes - my mind whirling with crazy thoughts!!!

I guess that 3rd thought was the one that really made me feel kind of bad - I had just sent an email to all my friends and family a couple of days before asking them to assist me in helping to meet my fundraising goals....telling them how important this cause and effort was for me - and I could just imagine what they'd think if I were to give up now!! So I mustered whatever little energy I had left and walked up the hill I was in....to my pleasant surprise, I could see the end of Balcones right ahead AND I found a Rogue watersop!!! Coach Scott was just clearing the waterstop but waited for me, and filled up my water bottles. I explained what had happened, and he devised a new route for me to take. He said either ways, I was going to end up doing more than 18 miles!! He also said that I'd come this far - and well, that I should really try to motivate myself and enjoy the last 8 miles, which would be mostly downhill!...He made me consume my Gu and sent me off....I ran on 2222 to Shoal Creek and was greeted by a group of runners - all part of Gilbert's Gazelles - another major running group in Austin!....the run along Shoal Creek ended up being quite pleasant - it's amazing how having people running around you can really bring up your spirits - even if you don't know any of them! The GG water stops also helped me along the way, and I ended up hitting 38th Street....I took 38th and then took a right on Lamar and ran all the way back to the Town Lake Trail....

The run on Lamar was a little tough - but this was just the usual soreness I got during all my long runs - but the route itself was quite pretty, especially near the Campus Area....I got a little cramp along the way and walked for a bit - a GG coach found me walking along here and stopped his car and asked if I needed a ride back. I was very very tempted but declined. Once again though, I was really touched by the offer for help...the Austin running community is truly an awesome community to be part of and I felt more motivated then and managed to run the remaining 4 miles relatively well.....

I had never been so happy as I was at the end of that run to see the RunTex store...and I was even more thrilled to see Lindsay, a fellow Iron Chick and massage therapist, who was there offering massages to all the runners....She gave me an AMAZING massage....I remember telling a friend right after that it felt like my legs had an orgasm! ;)....hahaha...I met the Asha men there, who were there for the AT&T kickoff...I still had a dazed look on my face though, and I got quite a few concerned "Are you Okay??"s from them!! :)

I went home after that and soaked in my tub for a bit, in icy cold water....then ate and SLEPT for nearly 5 solid hours, and woke up feeling all renewed again, and the miserable morning run felt like it happened ages ago!! I thought at that point about how close I'd come to giving up that morning and felt really glad that I hadn't!!....I had done 19.5 miles and survived the run with no major physical strains (touch wood!!)....I knew though that I had to really focus on my mental energy and training for the weeks ahead!! My next big milestone is going to be a 20 mile run 2 weekends from now...but thanks to my little adventure last weekend, I'm not going to be running a significantly longer distance, but I really do hope to have a much better experience, and a much stronger finish!! Meanwhile....my dear readers....Charanya's gonna STILL be running! :)



On a completely different note....HAPPY 60TH INDEPENDENCE DAY to my dear home country and all my fellow Indians!!! VANDE MATARAM!!!

3 comments:

Sharanya said...

OMG. I was JUST going to email u to ask when you're going to blog about your run. You've echoed so much of how I felt yesterday during my bike workout. I went thru so many of the SAME emotions & thoughts. And you're right, the community is a strong fabric - so many of my fellow cyclists stopped and asked if I was ok. I'm so proud of you! You have such a positive attitude. Good luck for your 20-miler! I've got a 35-miler bike ride coming up this Saturday!!! :)

gk said...

Once again stumbled on to your blog through Sha's blog.
That was a pretty cool post....amazing how you remembered all the details of the run...I'm usually quite zoned out at these mileages :)
You are doing great so far...just keep the miles ticking!

Ciara said...

Sha! Yes- this was long overdue, but I've been busy! :(....And I am totally inspired by your blogs as well - 35 miles is an amazing distance for a newbie triathlete!! EXCELLENT job!! Are u gonna be Olympic-Tri-ing??

And GK!! I am quite surprised I remembered so much too - but everything came back to me when I started writing!!...Thanks for all your concern after the run!! You guys are cuckoo but awesome for venturing on the 100-miler!! :)