That 18 miler, that joy, that marathon

My final long run of 18 miles in preparation for the Madison Marathon was awful and then transition into amazing. I had a fat tire bike race the day before my long run, which is why it started out awful. The fat tire bike race was at a ski resort, which meant we rode up and down ski hills. Knowing I had a giant long run the next day I took it easy and walked my 40 lb bike up the steep hills.

My long run plan was to run 5 miles to a park to meet some friends doing the Fellow Flowers virtual Joy Run. Within the first two miles of my five my legs had nothing in them. Each step felt like I was hauling a bag of bricks. The thought of running home after my social run made me anxious. Maybe I’d just get a ride home from one of them after our five. I wanted to stop and call one of my friends to come pick me up because I wasn’t sure I’d make it to the park on time.

I remained stubborn and kept going. I arrived 5 minutes before any of my friends–whew!

We had six of us total, including me. It was social, no omg-pace worries, we were in it for pure joy. As we approached the zoo I asked the girls if they were up for a loop through the zoo, everyone enthusiastically agreed yes! We zigged and zagged around families through the zoo, some of them cheered for us, we saw the giraffes and giggled our way through a quarter mile of the zoo. Five miles went by so quickly, and they were so enjoyable.

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In the last mile I gushed “I feel so good! I could run all day!” and thanked everyone for being there, saving my long run. We took our after-run group photo, and I continued on my way towards home with eight more miles to conquer. Those last eight miles felt so stupid, fantastic. Joy and gratefulness carried me through to complete 18 miles.

What’s exciting to me about how this went is what my legs went through in training. For both of my longer training runs, 16 and 18 I had a fat tire bike race the day before them. Both of those long runs felt rough to start and ended up awesome. This weekend I don’t have a fat tire bike race before the marathon. I have a day on the couch, catching up on homework and other projects planned. I think and hope that I’m set up for a strong 26.2 on Sunday!

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