18 Freakin' Fantastic Miles

by - Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thursday night before I headed to bed, I was insanely nervous about my Friday morning long run.

Running 18 miles is no joke.

It's a distance I haven't tackled in nearly two years so I was feeling a bit anxious about all the things that could go wrong on a run of that distance, and I struggled to fall asleep.

When my alarm went off Friday morning, I groaned as I looked out my window and saw how dark it still was. It's clear that fall is setting in because I'm having to wait later and later for daylight to break so the trails aren't pitch black.

I did my usual pre-run routine of PBJ, water and going to the bathroom a million times because of nerves and then headed out for my run.

Busting out a brand new pair of @mizunorunning wave inspires this morning. #brilliantrun

One of the things I was most nervous about was running out of steam on this run. After taking an entire week off from training after Penny died, I knew it wasn't going to be easy to jump back in with an 18 mile long run. So my plan was to just take it slow.

I made an extra effort not to look at Garmin very often and to just run within myself and my abilities that day.

The weather was nice and cool and the humidity was pretty low, so I was naturally moving at a slightly faster pace than normal. I was feeling pretty good as the miles ticked by and I was finding I didn't need nearly as many walk breaks as I had on hotter and more humid long runs. Plus the shade on the trail definitely helped.


I had made a brand new playlist Thursday night and was enjoying rocking out to a fresh mix (that featured an embarrassing number of throwback boyband songs) and before I knew it, I was approaching mile 9 and getting ready to turn around and head home.

I took a brief stretch break at the half way point just to loosen things up and then turned and headed for home.

Miles 9-13 were all at a gradual uphill climb and my pace certainly dropped a little bit. I was starting to feel fatigue set in but once I got into downtown Bethesda I knew I only had five miles to go and my spirits soared because I was still feeling pretty good.

I stopped briefly into a Dunkin' Donuts to refill my water bottle and then I set off for home. With five miles to go I was feeling mentally awesome. I was thrilled to see my pace was holding steady and that I wasn't hitting any walls.

I kept thinking about how much I am totally going to kick butt at MCM in a few weeks.

Around mile 15, I made a friend on the trails. She had just moved to the area and asked if she could run with me for a bit. I was so glad to have company, and I had a great time telling her all about the great running in the area. She told me she was surprised I was so peppy for having already run 15 miles.

Truthfully, I was surprised I was able to keep up with her and maintain a bit of a conversation. Go me!

We parted ways a bit after mile 16.5 and I trucked it the last little bit home.

18 miles at an average of 9:39 per mile. I am so beyond pumped!
Boom 18 miles, average pace 9:39

Despite that fact that I felt amazing during most of this run, my legs were shot as soon as I stopped. Suddenly I could feel every mile that I had just run.

Stretching and an ice bath helped.

Ice bath

I slipped into my compression sleeves for the rest of the day, which helped too, but I was still feeling some pretty major muscle fatigue for the next few days. (I'm sure being on my feet for like 12 hours at the Maryland tailgate on Saturday didn't help.)

It always amazes me how one awesome long run can boost my confidence so much for a big race. I know there's still a lot of work to put in before MCM, but I feel good about this race.

I am 100 percent confident that I will completely kick butt at the end of October and come out with a brand new PR.

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  1. Great job! That looks like a great running path, btw. :) Good luck with the rest of training.

  2. glad the long run went well! you are certainly setting yourself up for a successful MCM and shiny new PR :) pretty cool to meet a new friend on the run too.

  3. Esther9:08 AM

    This might be a strange observation, but it makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only person who gets nervous before runs! I've never attempted a marathon, but I'm training for my second half, and I once I get up into double digits I get pre-long run anxiety. It's comforting to know that I'm not alone! good luck with the training :)

  4. Awesome run, Jess! You are going to be fantastic in your marathon.

  5. Woo hoo yeah for a successful long run! I'm right with you girl, training my brains out. I'm so glad you are feeling confident. I have just decided to take a very positive approach and go into it knowing that I WILL reach my goal! Hope to see you before/during/after the marathon next month!

  6. Kristina3:42 PM

    Hi Jess,
    How do you fuel on runs this long? How often do you take some type of energy gel and water/ electrolyte drink so you don't end up hitting the wall?

  7. Hi Kristina!
    I carry Gatorade in my water bottle until it runs out and then I stop somewhere to refill it with water. I also carry Gu with me on my long runs. I usually take one every four to five miles depending on the heat and humidity or else I would definitely hit the wall.

  8. Awesome job, Jess! So glad you had that confidence booster. My last 18 was about a year and a half ago and I'm slowly working my way back up there too, so I get it. :) You'll definitely be ready!

  9. [...] Friday’s long run was amazing and a huge confidence booster. [...]

  10. Sounds like a great run, good for you! I think we run on the same trails; the long, cool, shady trails in the DC area are perfect for long runs.

  11. [...] the run in 3:19:45, just under a 10 minute per mile average pace. It wasn’t as great as my 18 mile run the week before, but it’s still a time I was happy [...]