20 miles, 4 McDonalds and some adventures on the Monon.
I usually run on Saturdays. I usually start my runs no later than 8 am. I usually have anywhere between 3-8 other girls with me when I run. I usually wear long socks. Today was unusual.
It is Sunday. I started running at 9:30am. I was by myself. I had short socks on. And I ran 20 miles.
On Friday, JD and I attended the Evening in the Gardens Gala for Noble Indiana. I had volunteered on their social media committee which meant we got VIP tickets, dressed up and even got to be food judges! I was thrilled with my dress which I rented from Rent the Runway (I am a huge fan of RtR, by the way). We ate incredible food and drank lots of wine and loved being part of such an incredible cause.
On Saturday, we slept in, went to Cafe Patachou and then JD ran 7 miles and I went shopping. I went a little nutso shopping for new clothes, makeup and new bedding! And last night, we went to our friends house for dinner with two other couples where we played games and had great conversation. It wasn’t really the best way to prep for a 20-mile run – cookies and wine don’t really count as fuel – but it was well worth it.
I slept in until 8am and frolicked around the house before forcing myself to get running. I wore my brand new Lululemon running tights (thanks to Matthew and Nicki for the bday gift!) and absolutely love them. They bought me a size 4 so when I got them, I assumed they’d be my “skinny pants” and serve as motivation to lose some pounds. But they actually turned out to be perfect! I tell ya… every pair of Lulu pants I wear are awesome because once they are on, there is never a need to adjust. I can’t say that about every brand of running wear!
I packed my gels, filled up my water bottles and selected a “cardio” station on Songza to listen to. I am a little sick of my playlists so wanted to let this iPhone app make the decisions for me. It was fantastic and I loved just about all the pop songs they played!
My plan was to run the majority of the miles on the Monon but I wanted to get a couple neighborhood ones in before running alongside that red line for hours. The weather was amazing – 50 degrees and such a far cry from running in the snow and ice. I have been so used to running with other girls that I was equally apprehensive and yet excited about going solo. I would push and pull as needed, break when I wanted and rely solely on how I felt vs making decisions on the group. That being said, I also had to rely on my own will to keep the feet moving. At mile 3, I took this picture and instagrammed it with the caption “This is my church.” And it is. Running solo is my church – where I self reflect and dig into my soul to make sense of the prior week, plan for the future week, determine who I want to be, play out scenarios and make important decisions. It’s where I get right in my head.
Right after I took that picture, a man ran by me and said “Meggie! It’s Matt Judge!” Matt and I haven’t met in person before but we have communicated over social media about running for at least a year+. He’s a seasoned runner and writer and also works in my same industry. He was about to his turn around point so decided to run with me for the next 4ish miles. My pace thus far was hovering anywhere from 9:30-9:50/mile which was slower than he is used to. But miles flew by as we chatted about past races, future ones, work, etc. By the time I got to McDonalds in Broadripple, I needed a gel break and he was going to continue on so we hugged goodbye. What a fun little addition to my solo run!
I ended up continuing north until I hit 10-miles on my GPS watch. I turned back around and immediately thought “oh good! This wind will cool me down.” I was starting to get hot in my long-sleeved top and the wind made it more comfortable. But it also made it much harder to run – we’ll talk about that more later. At mile 11, I noticed a crowd had gathered in the middle of the trail. There was a girl on the ground and as I passed her, I noticed she was wearing an ExactTarget tshirt. I turned off my watch and music and approached her. Sure enough, I know her. I asked what was going on and the woman who seemed to be closest to the situation said she was in bad shape but someone was coming. I bent down to talk to her and she told me that she was having horrible cramps. She had goosebumps up and down her arms and was laying in the fetal position on the cold concrete. Once people could see that this other woman and I were staying, they all left. The woman told me that she found my colleague on the ground, white as a ghost. No one else had bothered to stop! The girl asked if she had a phone to call her sister but she didn’t, so she flagged down a guy on a bike to see if he had a phone. Low and behold he (Jake) also is a coworker! He lives close so rode his bike home to get his car and to take the girl home. We stayed together and within about 10 minutes, Jake came driving up the Monon in his car! I loved his dedication to getting this girl back home! When they left, I talked with the other woman who was obviously incredibly nice and helpful to this complete stranger. And I am so glad I passed when I did to give her a familiar face to look at as she was in so much pain. We’ve communicated since and she seems to be better now.
I was still feeling pretty darn good, all things considering. My knee and hip started hurting in mile 3, but I was running through it. I definitely didn’t feel fresh and light on my feet, but I was hanging in there. JD was also running 20 miles and found me around mile 12. After that, I stopped and stretched out my hips which gave me a little boost of energy to keep going. I also took my second gel around mile 14. You’d think that knowing only 6 miles remained would give me hope and encouragement. But things were starting to hurt so 6 miles sure felt like a really long way to go.
These miles were slow. I hadn’t taken many breaks but I wasn’t running very fast. And worse was that damn wind! Sure it was keeping me cooler, but it was strong as hell and at times, seemed to stop any forward movement. I caught myself barely moving my feet at times and so would pick it up as much as I could before another gust came through. I was very ready to be off the Monon at this point so I wouldn’t be running into the head wind. My hips hurt, my knee hurt and my plantar fasciitis wasn’t feeling so fabulous either. I seemed to be fine from an energy and cardio perspective, but my legs were done.
At mile 18, I turned off the Monon and started heading home. Going west vs going south made a massive difference. And by the time I got to my house, I was 18.88 miles in and feeling a bit better. I dropped my water belt off on the porch and created a route that would get me to 20 miles and finish at the neighborhood McDonalds. All week I had promised myself that if I ran 20 miles, I could eat a Shamrock Shake. I imagined myself double-fisting a diet coke and SS while walking back to my house in the warm, sunny weather. Bliss. That last mile seemed to take forever but as I pulled up to McDs, my watched clicked to 20 miles. I had done it. By myself. Through the pain and without fun socks. I had fought through it.
I entered the very crowded McDonalds and got in line with my soaking wet $10 bill that had been absorbing my sweat for the past 3.5 hours. At the counter I asked for a Large Diet Coke and a Medium Shamrock Shake. And then the lady behind the counter broke my heart. She said “We are out of Shamrock Shakes.” My face fell as I asked “Are you kidding?” Truly, I was fighting back tears. She told me I could get chocolate or vanilla or strawberry but clearly she had no idea that for 20 miles I had been imagining that tasty fake-green frozen delight and nothing else would do. I texted JD that I was finished and almost in tears and he told me to stay where I was…he was on his way. I started walking home and he met me. We strolled through the neighborhood on a glorious day, each with big runs under our belt. You’d think I would have been thrilled! But I was downtrodden about my shake.
We stopped at my house to take the signature 2-0 picture and you can tell by my face, that I was pouting over my shake. So after cleaning up, JD and I went on the hunt. The second McDonalds we tried said their shake machine was broken. The third McDonalds said the same. At this point, I was ready to move to Canada because clearly something was very wrong with our country. But at last! The McDonalds at 75th and Keystone came through and all hope was restored. DELICIOUS.
So my 10th marathon is 2 weeks away. I have done only two 20-milers and haven’t stuck to a training program strictly. There won’t be a PR this month but I am hoping for a 4:30-4:35 marathon? I know this race will be unique and different as I am running 26 1-mile laps. It may mentally kill me or I may fall in love with it. (I am guessing there won’t be any grey area of opinion on this course.) I am tapering the next two weeks and will work with Meg on race strategy next week. We need to plan out pace, drinks, gels, breaks and inspiration. Just like today, I’ll be digging deep on race day to get through the distance and push myself hard. And maybe a Shamrock Shake will await me that day too.