Sunday, I set out to run 8 mile. I got the goal in my head some time after Thursday's debacle of a run. I am not sure why I became fixated on running eight mile, but following Saturday's run, eight miles became my goal for Sunday. I got an even later start on Sunday than I had on Monday, which caused me some consternation. The heat would be heading for the low 90's, so a 9 am start time was less than desirable. I had drank a good deal of water, eaten a pear, and some watermelon before leaving home, so I felt hydrated. I also knew there were water pumps on the trails that were used for water horses (and people), so even though I wouldn't be carrying water during my run, it would be available.
I decided to stick to the multipurpose roads and avoid the trails. Eight miles would be the longest run of my life, and the last time I tried for seven things had gone badly. Still, as I began my run, eight miles was my intent. Immediately, I began to struggle. Since I was running an out and back course that offered few opportunities for alteration, I looked at my initial miles as commitment miles: mile one committed me to two mile, two committed me to four, and so on. The first mile was all down hill and felt rough, and forced me to think about running it in reverse as my last mile-- no matter what distance I chose. I began to waiver as Old Bob clocked the first mile at 10:47.7
Mile Two has the steepest incline, but the climb wouldn't be as long as the last miles. I handled it alright, but doubts about eight miles were swirling in my head with every step. As the climb ended and Old Bob chimed 11:26.04 I had now committed to four miles,was sweating profusely, and begun to encounter my first deer flies.
Mile three was more rolling hills and offered my the only two alternative paths back to the parking lot that would let me shorten my run. I slogged through the hills and passed both of the trails, Old Bob chimed 11:24.18 just as I passed the second one, and I was now committed to six miles.
At the start of mile four, the thought of Thursday's crappy run began to weigh on my mind. I remember just how badly I had struggled with a three mile run just the other day, and began to have some strong doubts about the wisdom at attempting eight. Luckily, some Deer Flies caused we to lose focus on my doubt as I tried to swat them away. At the three and a half mile mark I came to a water stop. I had been really struggling and thought hard about turning around at the stop and settling for seven mile, but as I approached the water stop I decided not to make up my mind until I had a drink. I took three handfuls of water from the pump meant for watering horses because the water pressure on the drinking fountain was non-existent. After drinking, I decided to press on. I kept going forward as Old Bob chimed mile 4 at 10:55.5. I went forward for another tenth of a mile because I had no intention of running through the parking lot like I had at the beinging of the run and also want to accommodate for any tangent I may have been clipping off.
As I began mile five, I knew that I was now fully committed to eight miles. It didn't matter if I ran them, walked, or swam them, one way or another I was going to cover those eight miles. The funny thing is that as soon as I made the turn around for home and the dread lifted, I started to feel better and my pace picked up. My dread had been holding me back. Mile five took 11:06.65 Also, my scatological mind centered on this song, which would be lodged in my head for the better part of the next two miles:
I am not a big Kid Rock fan, but my mind jumped from 8 miles to 8 mile and Eminem, who is from Detroit. Then from there to Kid Rock, who is also from Michigan, and lodged . . .
Bawitdaba right in my melon.
Mile 6 saw me felling really good. I was on a section of rolling hills, but I found myself attacking the hills with zeal. I hadn't felt this good running in a while. Kid Rock was still streaming through my head, and even the deer flies hardly seem to bother me. Mid way into the sixth mile, I noticed that I was completely soaked in sweat. My clothes were sticking to me, and I could ring out my shirt. I wasn't to worried about how much I was sweating until I realized that my shoes were actually squishing because they were so full of sweat. I was well past any of the water stops in the park. Despite the fact that I had not a single dry spot on my clothes, I was continuing to run strong. I did mile six in 10:13.29
Mile Seven was a mainly a massive down hill that went by in a total blur because the only thing that I could think of was the up hill that was facing me. I was crushing the mile seven and my legs hurt but were feeling strong. However, all the dread that I had felt during the first four miles, found me again as I hit the bottom of the hill and approached the wooden bridge that would mark the end of the seventh mile. I did mile seven in 9:54.23 but as I finished this mile Kid Rock was gone and the only thing streaming through my mind now was the prospect of a one mile climb back to the parking lot.
Mile Eight . . . everything that I had dreaded hit me during this climb. I kept my legs churning, but this mile was the perfect lesson in just how quickly things can unravel when your running. In actuality, I was maintain a pretty respectable pace up the hill but, my legs were hurting so bad that I felt like I was crawling up the hill. I couldn't bring my self to look at the road ahead of me. Every time I looked up the road ahead of me just seemed to stretch out endlessly. The memory of how easily I had climbed this very same hill just the day before was stabbing at my mind. By the time I reached the seven and a half mile mark, the only thing that kept me running was the knowledge of just how close I was to reaching my goal of eight miles. After passing the steepest point of the hill and reaching the paved portion of the road, my eyes were just fixed on Old Bob, but to add insult to injury . . . Deer Flies. I swatted at them and knocked off my sun glasses! When I bent down to pick them up, I knew that either my hammies were going to snap or I was going to pass out! But luckily, just as I picked them up could see that I was in falling distance of eight miles. By the time that he clicked off eight miles, I was in tatters and close to tears. Mentally, I was completely shattered. I was proud of myself for having push myself to finish, but all I could think of was getting to my car, so I could get my water bottle, towel off, and change my shirt. The last mile took me 12:20.82, but if you had asked me at the time I would have sworn that it took twice that long.
Once I got back to the parking lot, I walked around for a bit and forced myself to stretch. After I drank some water, I could feel my head begin to clear. Eight miles. I couldn't believe that I had done it, and in this crazy frickin' heat. I am an idiot! But, I am also an idiot that just ran eight miles for the first time in his life . . .and that is pretty damn cool!
8 miles in 1:28:10.74 for a 11.01 pace. Also, my last four miles were nearly one and twenty seconds faster than my first four miles, which was pretty awesome considering just how much of a struggle that last mile turned into.