Twelve or thirteen miles I can do easily. Fourteen, even. (As someone who couldn't run for sixty consecutive seconds until I was 28, this still flabbergasts me). But the mileage bars on my training chart have started spiking into the upper teens, and Saturdays are no longer a proverbial walk in the park. Last weekend we ran sixteen miles, and today my plan called for seventeen. A few extra miles shouldn't be so intimidating, but anyone who has ever run longer distances knows you aren't halfway done when you're halfway done. You're halfway done when you have two or three miles to go.
The preparations are more involved with long distances: I drink water til my bladder bursts starting on Thursday. I make sure everything I eat the night before will serve as proper fuel (pictured: brown rice, roasted squash, tofu, black beans, and bitchin sauce). Gone are the Friday nights when I would stay out late: after one glass of wine I cut myself off and tuck myself into bed.
On the morning of, there are parts of my body - the only mentionable ones being my feet - that get a very, very thick coating of Body Glide. I wear an unfashionable but functional fanny pack to carry the bare necessities (credit cards, cell phone, and GU Chomps, which turn out to be the culprit behind my post-run stomach aches). My Shuffle is charged and loaded with music, a treat I try to save for those final few miles. And most importantly, the route has been memorized. New York City is a wonderful place to be a runner, but there are considerations when mapping out our long run: will there be a race in Prospect Park that morning? Will we make it across the Brooklyn Bridge before it becomes unbearably crowded with tourists? Can we run around in circles enough to avoid the barren upper stretch of the West Side Highway? Today's route incorporated several of our shorter runs into one, making it seem eternal. Shawn, because he's injured, was only with me for the first five miles. When we parted, I knew he'd be waiting for me when I finished.
Our ritual is to end long runs at a bakery. (Pity the cashier who has to handle my sweaty debit card.) When I'm running, the thought of food usually repulses me. A few minutes post-run, when my appetite miraculously returns, I pat myself on the back for having the foresight to finish at Sullivan Street Bakery or Locanda Verde or City Bakery. Today it was the latter, where seating is ample and the pretzel croissants (and - full disclosure - the peanut butter cookies) were still warm. Sure enough, I came to a halt in front of the restaurant and looked through the window to see my husband. I was so happy and relieved I almost cried. (He was relieved too - the reports of wind gusts had worried him.)
Even without Shawn there to keep our pace strong, I ran today's seventeen miles faster than I thought I could (and much speedier than my training plan dictated). After a shower and a nap I'm good as new and ready to enjoy the rest of my weekend - including more than one glass of wine.