My marathon was back in mid November and I am not embarrassed (well maybe I am a little) to admit that since then I have not gone out for a good double digit long run. Sure, I’ve done a few 8 milers and plenty of 5-7 mile range workouts but for some reason anything 10 miles and above has just eluded me since that infamous 26 mile trek. I know I’m staying active and healthy with weight training and short runs but I have still been worried that my distance runner endurance has evaporated into thin air in the past four months. I don’t want to have to tell other people or particularly myself that, yes, I could push out 26 miles once but now I’m back to square one and the most I can run is 6. Four months of training lost would be pretty depressing. Still, I haven’t been quite ready to enter another race yet and without that type of concrete goal in mind I’m not motivated to do much more than 6 or 7 miles on any given Saturday because that’s a pretty enjoyable distance for me. So I have been stuck wondering for a while – and unable to find many clear answers – how many miles I ought to be fitting in each week to maintain my long distance running stamina I worked so hard for (maybe not marathon status stamina, but at least enough for a half marathon plus a few miles).
Clearly, there was no better way to get my questions answered then to use myself as a guinea pig. So last weekend I went to the trails dead-set on running 10 miles. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day – the temperature, wind, and sunshine were beautiful. Turns out, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect run either. I was surprised by how strong I felt, physically and mentally, pushing through the 10 miles despite taking a particularly challenging route where the entire 5th mile is an uphill climb. I was proud when I reached the trail head and slowed to a walk but when I looked at my IPod to check my end time (since I don’t keep track of mile times – only start and finish) was nothing short of shocked. 10 miles in 86 minutes – probably a personal best. Apparently I had been underestimating my body all along.
That small victory was all I needed. The next day I signed up for the Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon on April 1st. I had been stalking several area races for registration deadlines and fee increases for a few months just in case I felt the urge to make a spring race comeback. This half marathon seemed well organized, is close by, and most importantly didn’t have a registration fee increase until just three weeks before the race so it was still affordable. I’m a bit nervous because it is last minute and this will be my first race without a few months of more organized training. But I am definitely excited to be back in a race setting – this time only facing half the distance I know I’m capable of.