Yesterday was the big day. I was scheduled to run 20 miles. It would be my last LONG run before beginning a three-week mileage taper. I’d sort of been dreading this run. Even though I ran 19 miles two weeks ago, there was something about the first digit of my mileage requirement being a “2” that freaked me out a bit.
Thankfully Coach Lynn put together an “out and back” route that was new to me. I’ve been running so frequently on the same green way system that the view had become tiresome. We met at an elementary school near Franklin, TN. From there Lynn drove me about two miles out where she promptly booted me from the car. It was still dark and I could hear roosters crowing at first light. Lynn drove slowly ahead, keeping sight of me in her rear view mirror. She was my own, personal North Star.
The course was beautiful. I ran past fields with cows and horses chilaxin’ on a Saturday morning. An adorable young donkey peered over a stone fence. It seemed as surprised to see me as I was to see it.
After about four miles of this Lynn parked in a church lot. This church keeps its doors unlocked, perhaps so that runners and cyclists (there were plenty of each on the roads) could stop in and use the facilities. After taking our potty breaks Lynn accompanied me on foot for about 10 miles.
With about two miles worth of Lynn’s company remaining, I could feel the temperature warming. Thankfully, the greater-Nashville area enjoyed unseasonably low humidity yesterday. Otherwise it would have been a rough day.
Once back at the church I still had six miles of running to do. Lynn hopped in her car and slowly drove ahead.
I won’t lie. Those last six miles were tough. My run slowed to a shuffle, especially as I crested what Lynn referred to as “Heartbreak Hill.” My dear coach had planned it this way. She wanted me to experience running through exhaustion…alone. She wasn’t being mean; she was preparing me for the final lonely miles of a marathon.
As my mileage climbed Lynn called out to me, “Let me know when you hit 20 miles.” I
snapped responded, “You’ll know I hit 20 when I stop running.”
When my GPS watch finally, blessedly showed 20 miles I stopped, punched my fists in the air and limped to the car. I poured myself into the passenger seat and off we sailed back to the elementary school where I had to painfully transfer myself from Lynn’s car to mine. We debriefed as we drove. I ran the 20 miles seven minutes faster than I had run 19 miles two weeks prior. I’m sure I can thank the low humidity but I also credit the lesson I learned during Wednesday’s run.
Next Saturday I’m scheduled to run 11 miles; the following Saturday I’ll run eight. My weekday runs consist of five milers that will gradually decrease to three-mile sessions. I’m so grateful to have completed this portion of my training and I plan to fully enjoy my three-week taper.