This morning, I ran* 9 miles. The farthest I have ever run at one time. Also, it was the first time that I realized that I am actually getting better at this. *I walked a little
Last Monday, I attempted a double loop of the inner circle of the park - appx. 8 miles - and nearly died. I experienced what most runners refer to as "hitting the wall". On the west side of the park (opposite of where I need to be to get home quickly), I hit the wall around the 6 mile point. I was exhausted. My legs ached. My feet hurt. It was getting dark and I knew I needed to just get home. **Though it is completely safe to run in Central Park in the evenings (plenty of people out, police presence, etc.) after a certain point, most runners have finished their run and the park starts to get a bit scary** The pain and exhaustion combined with the panic of feeling alone in the park made my chest feel tight. How would I run away from harm if my legs couldn't even move from my own will? I was anxiety ridden and put everything into keeping my legs moving in small bursts of running to get out of the park as fast as I could.
Hitting the wall hurts. Hitting the wall sucks.
But, there is a way through the wall - along with properly fueling your body before a long run (something of which I did not do on Monday), energy gels (like Gu) can help break through the pain and exhaustion of reaching that point.
Today, I ran prepared. I properly fueled my body the night before (knowing I had planned a long run this morning), filled both bottles in the run belt with electrolyte-filled Gatorade, and packed a berry-flavored Gu within the pocket of the Amphipod.
**The running belt belongs to Craig and he kindly lets me borrow it when I need the hydration during long runs. He has been resting and recuperating from running the NYC Half Marathon last weekend.**
After a full loop of the park (appx. 6 miles), I decided it was time to test out the Gu. The horror stories I heard about this stuff made me apprehensive, but I found it to be not so terrible. Sure, the consistency is unusually thick, but the flavoring wasn't bad. The tri-berry flavor tasted sort of like how the interior of a pre-packaged jelly doughnut would taste. You know, that fake kind of filling that is a little bit too thick for the outside of it? But, it served its purpose. I gives you that boost that allows you to feel like you can keep going, at least for a little while. Even if it's raining outside. Miracle product, I swear.
So, I finished the 9.2 miles in approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes. And, for the first time since starting this, I feel like I might actually be prepared to complete the More/Fitness Magazine Half Marathon in 3 weeks.
Two months ago, I was feeling continuously defeated. I felt like there was no way I could get any better and that I would be plagued with the inability to run for the rest of my life. But, the more I try, the more I get out there and do it, the easier it becomes. Is running easy to me? Ha, not by a long shot. Yet, it's easier than it was. And that is what matters, right?