That's the word that comes to mind when I think of the following sentence:
I just ran 18 miles.
This morning marked the first of 2 what I deem "major" runs in my marathon training. Everything up until this point, it has been fairly reasonable. Today is the first run that makes me feel like I will be able to conquer the 26.2.
The run itself wasn't that eventful. The first 3.5 I ran with the team, but when they stopped for water, I kept going. I have trouble stopping and starting - it usually makes something tighten up or get tweaked. Stopping exposes pain. So I kept going on. 14 miles is a long time to run alone, so I got lost in the beauty of the run and in thought. Miles 3.5-8 were uneventful. Just one foot after another, trotting my way along the trail. Mile 8-9 was tough, because it was all uphill to the top of a dam in the blaring sun. The temperature was perfect, but the sun started feeling hot. But I made it to the top and hit the halfway point. I turned around and started back down the hill. After a little bit, I passed my team and said hi to them. I knew all I did was get through the easy part. Miles 9-12 were pretty solid, and I had some welcomed company keep me encouraged over the phone. Then it got tough. Miles 12-14 started to get a little hard. At the 14.26 mark, I raised my fist in the air as I was passing the farthest I had ever ran. My pace was slowing and legs started feeling heavier. One foot in front of the other. Mile 15. I had the last bag of Sport Beans, popped my last salt tablet, and took a couple bites from my Clif Bar. Mile 16. I started breathing heavier. Running became jogging long ago. Jogging became trudging. I just had to make it. Mile 17. I could see where I could run to. I smiled. But I was tired. So I kept stomping along until I got closer and closer until... 18. I did it! I waited in the parking lot for the rest of my team and we stretched and shared in our accomplishment... exhausted. We are one step closer.
When I started running 2 1/2 years ago, I would have called you crazy if you told me I was going to run 18 miles some day. It was an incredible experience, and I am thrilled that it went as well as it did, but I know I still have a long way to go. But for me, today was surreal for another reason. As I was running, I was reflecting:
The route that we ran today was extremely familiar to me. It was the area that I ran most weeks to train for my first half marathon. A half marathon that happend exactly a year ago this weekend. I was thinking about those runs and the last time that I was running on that trail. The first time out, I struggled to hit 5 miles. Then I hit 6. Then I ran the farthest I ever had in my life - 7 miles. Then I hit 8. I remember the feeling that I had the first time I ran a double digit mile run - it was on this trail. This trail has seen some of my biggest running milestones, and here I am with another one. Before today, the farthest I had ever ran was 14.26 miles. That was 2 weeks ago. Today I crushed that. As I looked around at the mountains, the river, the beauty of this place around me, all I could think about was where I was at a year ago. And where I am at today. When I think about that, my heart smiles.
I can't wait to take on the challenge of 20 miles next weekend.
And the thrill of 26.2 less than a month from now.
It's going to be incredible :)