So Saturday afternoon, right around 3pm(ish), I suited up, filled my water bottle, stuffed a Honey Stinger Waffle in my pocket, queued up some music and stepped outside my door. My husband was in charge of getting our daughter to my parents for dinner that night. I had estimated it would take me between two and three hours depending on how much I ended up walking.
The first sane decision I made was to walk the hill outside my house, which was the very first part of the run. I figured I didn't need to burn myself out right off the bat. I started my run at the top of that hill, which may or may not have been a good idea. I started out fast, too fast. Even with a brief wait for a couple of lights, my first mile split was under an 11 min mile. I started to settle into the run a bit around the middle of the first mile, but in the back of my head was the fact that I had so freaking far to go. Every step was accompanied by an internal monologue, "Why am I doing this, this is stupid, I'm already tired, how am I going to make it nine miles?!" eventually I settled on covering over that constant loop with a loop of one of my favorite mantras "Don't listen to the first mile, it lies." After the first mile, I slightly modified it to "Don't listen to any mile, they lie."
After I settled into my pace, the run felt ok for a while, even through some small uphills. When I turned onto the Canal path, and joined my old usual running route, I heard my phone chirp the three mile mark in my ear. It was hard for me to believe that I had already run three miles, and harder still for me to wrap my head around how far I still had to go. So I didn't. I started making a concerted effort to not think about the miles ahead. There was a stretch in here that was flat and straight, and boring. I struggled at that point. I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. I had to start playing head games with myself to keep going. I think it had started raining at that point, and was a little windy. I kept my head down and my feet moving, and by the time I had hit mile four, the rain had passed, the wind had died down, and the path had gotten less straight.
I don't remember much of mile four, except occasionally thinking how amazing it was that I felt this good, having already ran so far, when I was this far into my old run, which used to be so difficult for me to finish. Mile four was good.
Mile five just about killed me. I'm not sure what it was. Maybe it was the stretch of unplowed snowy path that I had to navigate, maybe it was just that it was right about half way through the run, but I really had to dig deep to keep going at this point. I made deals with myself, just keep running to x point. Make it to this point, see you made it, now just make it to the next one. I told myself I could walk at six miles, take a break. But then, at mile six I felt better, stronger, so I kept going.
I had to play the same game with myself halfway through mile six, telling myself to just make it to mile seven, then I could walk. But then coming up on the end of mile six, I realized I would be leaving the canal path soon, and turning onto main street. I told myself to at least make it to main street. Then when I turned onto Main street, I hit that point again, where I felt better, so I kept going.
At some point in here, it started snowing for a bit. It was beautiful. It didn't last long, but it sure made me feel hardcore.
Really most of the run followed that pattern. somewhere around mid mile I would bottom out, feel like I couldn't do it, and I'd work out some deal with myself to keep myself moving for just a bit longer, and somehow, by the end of the mile, I'd find more gas in the tank, and keep going.
Until mile eight. Most of mile seven was run at a very slight uphill climb. I could feel it taking a toll on my legs, and my knees, which had taken a beating on the downhills early in my run. All the bargaining I had in my head was not helping. So I made a deal with myself and kept it. Walk at mile eight.
As soon as the little voice in my ear chirped up to call out the mile eight mark, I walked. For a minute I thought that was it, I was going to just walk the last mile. Eight miles wasn't bad. But for some reason, after a short minute walk, The crazy took hold again, and I started running.
The last mile was pure grit. There was nothing left in the tank. My legs felt every step. I just, for some reason refused to stop. I wanted to finish it out. I needed to finish it out. I was not running fast, or gracefully. I was grinding. There were uphills. I slogged up them, head down. At this point I was running through my parents neighborhood. I knew I was so close. That thought was just about the only thing I had left to keep my feet moving.
Right before I turned onto my parents street, my phone chirped out the mile nine mark. I kept moving until the turn, and then walked the bit to my parents front door as a cool down.
I was freezing by the time I got inside, so instead of a cold shower, I took a hot bath and a hot shower. I had an amazing celebratory dinner with my parents, my husband and daughter (who I beat to my parents by the way.)
Today, I'm feeling ok. Again, my legs are a little sore and a little tight, but nothing serious. I don't think it's sunk in yet that I actually completed a nine mile run, with hills, on actual road.