Every time I take off for a long run I take a deep breath and think here we go. It's that the thought of once I take that first stride I know I'm not going to stop running for a long time. I never know how I am going to feel. A lot can happen during all those miles.
I think of longs runs as not only building endurance but also building mental toughness. Some longs feel great the whole way but more often than not I have a few moments where I don't feel good. I kind of drift in and out of "the zone." It's those moments when I'm out of the zone that I really have to think about what I'm doing. I had to do that today. I took off for a hilly 16 miler and the first two miles were just blah. Then at mile 3 I finally settled in and was going along great, felt like I was on cruise control. That is a great feeling. Just zoned out, listening to my music and clipping off the miles. Then all of a sudden around mile 11 or 12 I felt horrible. I struggled though that until about mile 14. Finally it passed and I felt great the rest of the way. Weird how that works. The run ended up being 16.7 and overall I felt good about it.
The other thing about long runs is how much stuff can go through your head and how much you can see while running. I took note today of how friendly all the runners were I met on the road. Everyone said good morning. I started to notice that a bunch of houses still had Christmas wreaths up. Once I saw the first one I started looking at all the houses and couldn't believe how many wreaths I saw. The SMR whizzed by me. Always cool to see the group ride come hauling ass down 77. Spring is around the corner if the group rides are back. I started thinking about what homework I had to do, the laundry I needed to get done. Then my mind started thinking food. Man I'm hungry! Started to think about what I was going to hog down post run. Unfortunately, I realized I was out of eggs which limited what I could fix and meant no pancakes. Ugh. Told myself to remember to go grocery shopping this weekend, which I still haven't done. Too bad you couldn't mentally record all the thoughts that went through your head.
I always forget some of the weird music I have on my play list. I've decided that I love running to the Black Eyed Peas. When one of their songs comes on it just gives me a pick up. All of a sudden today I had the Toby Keith song, Weed with Willie start playing. Wow, did I put that on my playlist? Anyway, it gave me a good laugh.
When I'm marathon training I always start thinking about what long runs I have left while I'm doing my long run. At this point I still have all my 20s to go. I'm pretty sure I should never think about that when I'm having an out of the zone moment!!
The best thing I thought this morning was how much I love running. My last marathon was Boston 09 and it feels really good to be marathon training again.