On Saturday January 1st 2011 I realized that my birthday was just days away. With it being new years and a new age for myself, I decided to go on a birthday run where you run the amount of miles or kilometers that your age is. That way I could have my actual birthday off from doing a long run. The temperature was around 20 degrees. No snow or wind in the forecast, so I decided that this was indeed the day to go.
My motivation for doing this was to show myself that all of these trainings that I have gone through had amounted to something big. It was also to show myself that my body can still do things as I age. After mapping out where I could go, I put on my winter running gear and filled up my camelbak back and went out the door.
I decided to take my Garmin with me to help me track my mileage and to insure that I would go the full 28 miles. The first 6 miles went by quickly. I did pace myself to not go to fast. This way I wouldn’t be too worn out later on in the run. I made sure that I was drinking enough water and replenishing my electrolytes early. When mile 7 approached I found myself renewed and excited for the upcoming trails that I had made a part of this run. I was happy to see that the trails were packed down and were ready to be jogged on. There were plenty of hills that were very challenging and I knew that I would regret adding these hills come mile 20, but the scenery and stillness of the trail were irresistible to me!
I came out of the trails around mile 15 and went to the spot where I was going to meet my wife. My wife had insisted on going with me the last 13 miles for support. I am so glad that she was there! Just having someone there to cheer you on and help keep your mind straight really helps. I noticed at mile 20 that I was indeed tired from all of the trail hills that I had done. I kept thinking about how dumb I was for adding such steep hills on a long run. When mile 21 hit, the temperature had dropped significantly and the sun had been down for a while now. Being cold at mile 21 as opposed to mile 5, my body was not warming itself as well. I had tried to eat some food along the run but it wasn’t enough to help my body temperature feel normal.
I kept telling myself “when I only have this much to go, I’ll mentally feel better.” That never happened. I felt like a zombie the last 6 miles. I just had to keep moving my legs and try not to slip or fall. I noticed mentally that I was different. I was very much a zombie. “Just keep going” was the key thought in my mind. I had asked my wife to talk to me about her childhood and other things to keep my mind occupied with positive thoughts. She did this cheerfully, which really helped. I am sure I was very unpleasant to be around, but she kept telling me that my form still looked good and how impressed she was.
Finally, the end came. The last couple miles are a blur to me now, but at the time seemed like hell. There were a lot of things I learned about myself on this run. The overall thought was the fact that I did it. Even though I had added hills and some questionable courses for a long run, I DID IT.
The best part of it was that I did not injure myself. This really showed me that all of the past exercises I did had really paid off. Some might wonder why I would put myself through that, and if it was really worth it. I asked myself that plenty of times during the run. I just had to tell myself that those answers will come at the end. Do you want to know the answer? Well, the fact that I feel great now and will continue to run and go on long runs should tell you. However, the best way to find out is to achieve your own fitness goals, because words cannot describe the feelings of accomplishment.