We quietly said our hellos, I stuffed my pack with nutrition, and off we went. I was about to embark on my very first 30 mile run.
The plan was to do one loop of the half marathon course, Sara would deliver me to the race start, and then I would do a second loop of the course, plus 4 miles at the end. I was in charge of the course map (bad plan), and as such, we ended up doing an extra half mile out and back due to a missed turn. We were chatting, laughing, and both feeling good. We kept the pace conservative, as Sara is 6 months pregnant, and I didn't want to blow up during the second half of the run.
At about mile 8ish, we realized that due to my course mis-calculation, there was no way in hell I was making it to the start line on time. I remained firm that I needed the run to be my top priority, and when I hit the start of the race was really irrelevant. I did fuzzy math and figured I'd only miss the start by a couple minutes, which wasn't the case.
As we were making our way towards mile 13, the racers began to come at us in droves. We did our best to hold pace, and I tried desperately not to get anxious; I needed to remember the big picture goal of the day. I took a deep breath, and simply cheered on all the others coming the other direction.
I hit the start of the course when the race clock read 17:XX, and I was of course, dead last (duh). They had packed up the starting line, but I crossed the mat to make it official (I later found out that there was no "net time", it just calculated your time from the gun start to when you crossed the finish line). This was when I knew I was going to have to really make an effort to not chase the race; picking up the pace at the halfway mark of my run would be nothing short of stupid. I would gain nothing, and potentially ruin my entire day.
After a ton of pity claps, and "you can do it!" from the spectators who were left around the start, I started picking off some of the 10k walkers, and about mile 3, found the last racers of the half marathon. I made it a point not to chase the racers as then came into my view, and only a few times had to consciously pull myself back. I was using Healthy Bites mixed in with Clif Bloks as nutrition, with Gatorade and water. It was working beautifully, and my stomach was the happiest it's been on a run in awhile. I loved having the water stops of the race as support, as I could have them help me remove/put things in my Camelbak. The deeper I got into the run, the more confident I became that I would actually finish this run in a good frame of mine. Thrilled.
I smiled when my watched (the new Garmin, which arrived on Thursday. Woop woop for a DOCUMENTED 30-miler!) flipped past 26.2 miles. I had about a mile to go in the "race", and had found Jessica who was chatting to keep me distracted. My body was tired and achy, but simultaneously felt strong. I started to prepare myself mentally for the finish line, when everyone else would be done for the day, drinking their recovery wine, and I needed to continue on.
The transition from the end of the race to my solo miles was a lot less challenging than I had anticipated. I'm assuming it's because I was in such a good mental place. I cracked up when I crossed the finish line of the half marathon and saw the time on the clock. I grabbed a cup of water, and convinced my legs to keep moving forward. A few strange looks from spectators, and I was on my way to do a little out and back to finish out the day.
From there on, I ran for the 30 on the Garmin. I shuffled up the uphills, and tried not to beat up my quads on the downhills. When my car finally came into view, I tried to "push" to the finish. I'm sure I hit 8:30 pace for a hot second.
And just like that, my first 30 mile training run was complete. Most importantly, I nailed my #1 goal of the day - I finished exhausted, sore, achy, AND in a mentally sound place.
My recovery included a big ass glass of sangria Saturday night for my mom's birthday, and it was awesome.