I got my long run in yesterday and it was brilliant. I was kind of apprehensive about doing it all week. I've only gone 8 miles once before and it seemed like an awfully long way to go after my lackluster training. As I previously mentioned I went on a new path - it was the area around the Stone River Civil War Battlefield (previously chronicled here in our family history). It turned out to be just wonderful. And apparently I'm not the only one that thinks so. There were so many runners out there. I couldn't believe it. I think many are in training for the Country Music Marathon at the end of this month. I thought about training for the 1/2 Marathon portion of the Country Music race but figured I didn't want to push myself that much yet. Plus there's SO many runners there and I'm not ready for that size of a race yet.
Anyway, I digress (like I usually do). I had planned out a nice 8 mile loop but I quickly learned that although Gmap had listed a road as connecting from point A to point B it really didn't. So I changed things up some but then had to make more guesses on how far I went. I might have gone a little less than 8 miles but it was definitely more than 7.5 so I think that's good enough.
I had to leave the house earlier than normal because of some other things we had going on that day. But it was good practice to wake up earlier and force something into my stomach. I'll have to leave the house between 6 and 6:30 next Saturday in order to get to Nashville on time for my 10k race. It was cold when I first started. I was wearing my new outfit (because I'm still in love with it) and didn't bring a jacket with me because I knew I wouldn't need it for long. I used the bathrooms (I didn't expect them to be open that early - such nice National Park rangers to open them up for us) and got started. It took a good mile before I warmed up enough that my hands weren't freezing. I was enjoying my new iPod mix. I added some songs, removed some other ones, and rearranged the whole mix so it was like listening to a whole new CD. I was passed by several people but I didn't care one bit. What I did worry about was whether or not I had a big ol' wet spot on my rear. I was wearing my new water/fuel belt and I had put a frozen bottle of water on the back clip and I could feel the condensation as it thawed running down the back of my pants. And the bottles were quite noisy as the melting ice sloshed around. But other than those two minor annoyances I didn't mind the belt and I felt having the water on me made a tremendous difference in my time (of course) and my endurance. The only problem (which was my fault) was that the water tasted a bit soapy because I failed to rinse the soap out enough when I washed them. It wasn't enough to kill me and I'm sure my insides are sparkly clean now.
I was about 3.5 miles in when I caught up to an older lady. I had been trailing her for a quite a while. We were running about the same pace but she got on the path ahead of me. But we met up when the end of the trail forced you to make a U-turn. She asked me how far I was going and I proudly said "8 miles!" Then I asked her and she said "oh 24 miles." After I finished choking on my trampled vanity I was able to chat with her some more and wish her luck on the upcoming CM Marathon. Really in the end it was inspiring to see her go. I hope that I'm still running in 30 years.
Like I said, I wasn't exactly sure about my mileage so I ran far enough for it to feel close to 8 miles and to average 12 minute miles. But my pace was easy enough through the whole thing that I never once felt overtired or like I couldn't go on. I only stopped for a 30 second walking break throughout the whole thing. The weather could not have been better. The scenery was gorgeous, I got a nice history lesson as I rambled through the battlefield, and I once again appreciated the time and relaxation I get on my long runs.