thoughts on a 21-miler that was originally a 20, and was almost a 16

I am constantly reminded that this whole distance running thing is totally mental.  I've spent the last few months blowing off long runs - 11 instead of 14, 12 instead of 16, etc., because I just didn't want to do them.  My brain didn't want to, or my hip flexors didn't want to, I was too tired, too hot, too hungry, too blah blah blah.  I think the farthest I squeaked out before this weekend was 14, and this was my last weekend to safely get a long run and I knew it.  So I set out for a 20 miler, hoping my body was going to be able to tolerate it. 

For the record, this run took me from Cambridge to Brighton to Watertown to Newton to Brighton to Boston, and then back to Cambridge.  Tour de River, you know. 

After a few crazy weeks, it was totally welcoming to get out into the world by myself for such a long period of uninterrupted time. 20 milers are the best time for an emotional check in.   Which is to say: if you can make it through 20 miles without crying, you're okay.  If you can make it through 20 miles and talk yourself out of quitting each time, you're okay.  (In my book, anyway.)

The first 15 were pretty smooth sailing, because it's Boston in the fall so that means amazing colors and crews on the river to try and outrace.  But then it got kind of clammy and I started bargaining with myself as I ran across the Mass. Ave. bridge about three times trying to figure out what I was going to do.  (And then I ran into a guy who was wearing this year's Boston Marathon shirt and running with this beautiful chestnut dog and my heart melted.)  So I decided: Reassess at 16.  Once I got to 16: Reassess at 17.  At 17: Welp, I like even numbers better so I might as well go to 18.  And then at 18: Welp, you need to get home and it's going to take a lot longer if you walk.

So, 21 (I've never been good with numbers) and done.  Fitness wise? I'm definitely not where I want to be.  I'll be happy if I can knock even a second off my Boston time, but I'm not too sure if that's going to happen.  Right now my legs feel totally trashed and my back is totally traumatized from today's run.   But at least I'm back mentally!

Some fueling notes though, because this fueling and this run = completely out of the ordinary for me. The headache I had when I left work yesterday was still lingering when I woke up, and I didn't feel up to eating anything pre-run because food sounded kind of gross and also because I knew if I waited around for a few hours I'd just put this run off completely, so I chugged some nuun and headed out the door.  I ate two blueberry pomegranate gu chomps at the 5k, 10k, 20k, and 25k, and a strawberry banana gel at the halfway (10), and drank water at random water fountains along the river.  I usually don't fuel or drink on training runs and I always eat before long runs, but it goes to show that sometimes shaking up routine can be helpful. 

Starting empty for such a long haul was shockingly not detrimental - I definitely would have killed for a cheeseburger at mile 17, but as anyone who has ever done a long run with me before, this is not a new phenomenon. 

Also!  This long run means that it's my last run in these shoes!  I will miss their gimmicky glow-in-the-dark amazingness.  But I'm looking forward to fresh shoes.  My feet are also looking forward to (and will definitely appreciate) new kicks. 

Also, the view from the floor once I got back into my apartment.  There were banana chocolate chip pancakes on that plate, and yes, they were amazing.