Finally – the week of my longest run arrived! Anyone who’s run a marathon has their preference on how long their longest run should be. For my first marathon, I wanted to get as close as 26.2 miles as a I could because I knew it would help me mentally, so I ran 24 miles. During my second marathon I was recovering from IT Band issues, so I kept my longest run to 20 miles. And for my third and most recent marathon, I went to 22 miles. That seemed like a good compromise, so I decided to stick with that for this go round.
My plan was to run an 11 mile out-and-back route at the Parklands. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s one of my favorite places because there are bathrooms and water fountains every 3-4 miles.
I was anxious right up until the day before my long run because it was shaping up like I’d be running it alone. I knew a smaller group of my close friends would be starting with me, but likely only running 5-6 miles with me before turning around.
But again, I got lucky! Friday evening, one of my friends, Steph, texted to ask if anyone would be joining me for the second half of my run. She then offered to meet me at my turn-around point if I could drive her back to her car when we were done.
At that exact same moment, our friend Olivia responded in our group text that she was going to join us! She’s training for a marathon the week after mine, and had been planning to do her long run on Sunday. However, her plans changed and she would be able to join for all of my miles!
I was so happy! I really do have some of the best friends around, and they’re just crazy enough to join me on long runs!
Saturday morning, my husband Mike drove Olivia and me to our starting point. Mike dropped us off, then headed to another part of the park to mountain bike. Olivia and I met up with Steph, Melissa, Suzy, Allison and Gina. We all had different goals so after a quick photo, we set off.
Gina is trying to get a half marathon PR, so she took off. Suzy and Allison are getting back into running after some time off, and Suzy is just starting training for a half, so they needed fewer miles. That left Olivia, Steph, Melissa and me. The four of us hung together for about four miles, and then Olivia and I stopped to use the bathroom. We got back on the road, then saw Gina, who had already reached her turn-around and was heading back. Shortly after, we saw Steph and Melissa on their way back.
And then it was just Olivia and me.
We were pretty lucky with the weather. It was cooler, in the low 50s, and while our fingers were frozen for the first few miles, they warmed up pretty quickly. We got to a point in the park that was new to Olivia, and unfortunately, it was the section with the most hills! But we took our time with them and conquered them. And actually, looking at our splits, our pace was pretty consistent throughout the run so I think we did things right.
Shortly before we hit our turn-around point, we ran into Mike on his bike, so we stopped to say hi and chat.
We hit our turn-around and then realized we were playing leap frog with a man who was probably in his early 60s. We discovered that he was also running 22 miles and that he’s training for the same marathon I am! It was a nice distraction for a few miles as we continued to leap frog and chat with him.
For me, the most exciting part of our run was when we reached 18 miles. That’s the longest distance Olivia has run to this point, so I was super proud of her for not only going further, but going four miles further!
When we had about two miles left, I told her that while I was feeling ok, my legs would sure feel better when we were done.
And then finally, we finished! I was so proud of us! We had been smart with our pace, keeping it easy, and our nutrition was on point. The hills were challenging, but they’ll just make us stronger since neither of our races have hills.
And now it’s taper time! In two weeks, I’ll run the Indy Monumental Marathon, and in three weeks Olivia will run the Hilton Head Marathon. It’s been a tough but good training season, and I can’t wait to see how we both do!