Last year, the first time I ran a continuous fifteen miles was a big deal. Now that I am in the process of training for my second full marathon running fifteen miles doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Obviously, it takes a long time. Obviously, I sweat a lot; I need a lot of liquid; and I get very hungry afterwards. But it just did not strike me as anything out of the ordinary when I started.
What I planned was 7.5 miles to the north, turn around, and then run home. What happened was a bit different and really illustrated why running that far alone can be a challenge sometimes.
When I reached mile 4-4.5, I saw lightning to the north. It seemed far enough to the north, that I just kept going. Before I got to 5.5, the lightning was close enough that I decided to turn back. There was a very brief very hard rain on the way back. But it was still not raining enough to make me stop early. As I returned, I took enough turns off the straight course to accumulate my entire fifteen miles.
When I reached the end, it turned out that I had run a sub-1:50 half-marathon distance and the total distance at a 8:23 average pace. Neither of those is bad, but my legs felt incredibly heavy when I was done. A day later, I’m feeling fine.
Running it alone—there was no one to chat with in the rain. There was no one to chat with when the tiredness began to set in. Every step of the way—through the rain, figuring out where to get to accumulate fifteen miles, up and down every hill—was by myself. And it started to take a toll on me by the time I was done.
Part of this is a message to me about how hard I ran the Tuesday night workout in combination with how far I was trying to go less than 48 hours later. (And I ran the long distance on Thursday rather than Saturday because I have a 5K on Saturday). Part of this is a reminder about how important running with a buddy can be. Part of this is just a time to reflect on who is there when I need to know I’m not alone.
Fifteen miles provides time to connect with God, time to ponder the relationship with God, time to reflect on God, and time to realize just how powerful it can be to know that there is always hope—even when the distance ahead sometimes seems hopelessly far under unfavorable conditions.