Friendships are born on the field of athletic strife and the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust. – Jesse Owens
You know the level of excitement you have on race day? You have no trouble getting out of bed because you’re excited. You have clothes laid out. You already know what you’re going to eat, when you’re going to leave the house, and what you’ll do when you get there.
Well, instead of race day, that’s me when I get to run with other people. Seriously. Ok, maybe a notch or two down from race day excitement, but still pretty excited. I’ve had so many lonely miles in the last year and a half and now that my runs are getting longer, they are getting lonelier.
Last week, I wrote about how the Konza served me up a big helping of humble pie. And leading up to my Saturday long run, I had no intention of running the Konza again. I was planning on staying close to home. But then Friday after lunch, I saw on Facebook that two friends were putting together a Konza run for Saturday and posted an open invite to whomever wanted to join them. Six miles at Six a.m.?? How could I resist??
Now my workout had me running for 90 minutes – 1 mile easy, 1 mile hard. I wasn’t sure how this was going to workout considering my friends, Christie and Sandy, were planning a steady paced long run. I rationalized that I could at least start with them and then figure it out from there. My original plan was that I would run my first three miles at 5:30 before they showed up and then continue running the trail with them. This did not pan out, but I didn’t mind. I would just have to run extra after they were done – not ideal but oh well.
Christie and Sandy showed up and we all commiserated over the lack of sleep and early hour. It’s always a little slow getting started, but we were all excited to be there. I had my camera with me because I wanted to see if I could run the whole way with the pack. In the actual race I will have to run with my own water so I feel like it is good practice to run with weight in my training. I was also carrying water and a snack (half a Lara bar).
On the way up the giant hill, the wildflowers were beautiful. I would have stopped every five feet to take a picture, but that’s not why we came. We came to run. We all hiked up the steepest part and I think that’s a good strategy considering how toasted my legs were last week. It was so nice being there with other people. At the end of the first mile, I took off on my own for my first hard mile. I ended up running it the same speed as last week. Bummer. But then I remembered that this week I was wearing my pack so I felt encouraged that the weight hadn’t slowed me down. I snapped a picture and turned around to join back up with Christie and Sandy. We ran together again at a nice conversation pace until it was time for me to run ahead. This was the pattern I followed for the entire loop. It was so encouraging to return to their friendly faces after each hard mile. And it seemed to make the 6 miles go by really fast.
Before I knew it, we were done with the 6 mile loop. With the back tracking, I finished up at 6.60 miles, but I still had time on the clock. I had stopped a couple times for pictures, water, and a snack so even though I was at 1:12:00, I still planned on finishing out with 9 miles.
We snapped a quick selfie and then I went back down the trail for my last 2.4 miles. It was more brutal than I expected. After breezing through the first 6 miles, with hard mile times of 9:19, 8:30, and 8:40 (only the even miles are hard), mile 8 turned out to be the slowest and most miserable mile, 9:30. I had nothing to look forward to upon finishing. I had no friends to meet up with when I was done. I had only me and I wasn’t enough to spur myself on to a faster pace. Running is just as tough mentally as it is physically. At this point, I didn’t have enough mental stamina to push through the rough terrain. Even though I had chosen the flatter path, it was actually more uphill than I realized/remembered. I was unprepared and ended up discouraged.
I snapped one more trail-side picture and headed back to the car.
I finished strong, surprisingly. I guess it was kind of downhill on the way back.
Overall, this was a fantastic run. Yeah, my last 2 miles weren’t great, but more than 70% of the run was amazing! FRIENDS MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE!!
- Last week, it was blazing hot. This week it was cloudy and humid. After a week of 100 degree weather, the clouds were a welcome change even though it was more humid.
- This was my first time ever eating on the trail. I wanted to try to have something at the 1 hour point to avoid a sugar crash/hitting a wall. I chose half an Apple Pie Lara Bar because they are easy to find in the store and they are natural. I need to pick a different flavor.
- This was the longest picture run I have ever done and it turned out just fine. The pack was comfortable the whole 9 miles. I was going to take a picture at the end of every hard mile, but there wasn’t much around me when I finished mile 6.
I don’t know when we’ll all get to run together again, but I hope it’s soon!