If one were to look in my bedroom now they'd see quite a sight. They'd seem me laid out, laptop on my lap, wrapped in my comfy robe, hair wet, with two dogs and a cat surrounding me. They'd see someone who looks both exhausted and content. They'd see someone who just ran 18 miles.
One of the things I love about training for the marathon is that I get to see parts of Richmond I've never seen before. Even though I group up in this area, there are plenty of roads I've never gone down and plenty of sites I just wiz past and never give a second thought to. Running allows me to see these sites, and this run did not disappoint.
This run started out fairly normal. We ran down streets we'd run down before and nothing was unusual. As the run progressed, I got a little excited as we ran past St. Bridget's Catholic Church. It's a beautiful stone church, and just the image of it made me a little stronger. We ran through the parking lot, and there was one of our coaches, telling us to turn down this small side street. That's when the run got interesting.
First, this road was practically all down hill. Of course, this is not easy on the joints, but it's more enjoyable than uphill. Second, there was tons of tree coverage. Considering this day was sunny, warm, and humid, trees were quite welcome. Third, and most important, it had to be one of the most beautiful runs I've ever been on. The houses were gorgeous, the landscape was amazing, and I couldn't help but feel in awe of it all. It was a particularly wonderful way to pass a few miles.
It was also during this section that I started to break away from the people I was running with. The girls I was running with were wonderful, but I found that my body wanted to take things slightly faster. My natural groove had me breaking away, and I just listened to what my body told me. I didn't want to push to hard, but I also didn't want to hold anything back. While I missed the conversation, it also allowed me to focus more on what my body was telling me. I was happy to listen.
From that wonderful road, we ran through the University of Richmond campus (again, lovely), and then it was back to familiar roads. By this point, we were out of the shade and the sun was HOT. I did my best to make sure I stayed hydrated, but I could not wait to find a SAG stop.
By the time I reached the second to last SAG, I looked at my watch and saw that I only had about 5 miles left. I was hot and tired, but I've run 5 miles plenty of times. I knew I could do this.
When I reached the final SAG, my fuel belt was dry, I was thirsty, and there were only 1.5 miles left. I had a few cups of Gatorade, filled my fuel belt (did I mention it was hot?), and set off, determined to finish.
The last mile and a half was tiring. I wanted to be done, but I was so proud I'd come so far already, I wasn't about to stop. I was in full sun at this point, I could feel the heat from the cars and the road, but I knew there was just one more hill until the finish.
Finally, along with one of our training coaches, I crested the hill. I was rewarded with a cool breeze, and that was enough to get me through the finish. I charged on, gave a few high fives, and made it to the end. When all was said and done, I'd run 18 miles in 3 hours 19 minutes.
I may be exhausted. I may not want to move right now, but I reached a goal. In 34 days and 8.2 miles, I will run my first marathon. Wow.