Going Long—Really Long—Again

14 miles.

I’ve had this arbitrary distance floating around in my head for awhile now. As per usual, when I get fixated on tackling a certain loop or workout, I need to do it. ASAP. But I’ve been flirting with this distance for a few months, and the closest I got was 13.1 miles a couple weeks ago because I decided midrun I could manage an unofficial half marathon that morning.

But 14 miles? That seemed… far. Too far for what I can manage these days, I told myself.

Regardless, I wanted to check it off that mental to-do list before marathon training kicks off this fall, which—fun fact!—I signed up for my first marathon since 2015! I plan to run the El Paso Marathon next February. I’ve always wanted to run 26.2 in my hometown and it seems like the perfect comeback marathon after my hiatus from serious racing.

Anyway, one night last week before a shift at work for which there was a chance of being called off, I told myself that if I did get the day off, I’d make the most of the early wake-up and do a really long run. And for whatever reason, 15 miles was the new goal.

Sure enough, I got the call and promptly pulled off my scrubs and laced up my running shoes to head to the Boulder Reservoir. I started off down the gravel road around 6:45 a.m. The sun was shining but the air was still cool (thank God for dry air in the summer!) and I felt fresh. For the first time in years, I tried to settle in mentally for the long haul. I told myself, find an easy rhythm, no need to go fast, enjoy the insanely gorgeous scenery, remember I get to do this, I don’t need to do this, and just cover the distance.

A couple hours later, 15 miles buzzed on my watch. It certainly didn’t look or feel pretty, but the epic views more than made up for it. I was exhausted but elated.

 

Heading into this marathon cycle, after a break long enough that the distance feels more like a stranger than an old friend, my goal is just to complete it and enjoy the heck out of racing with my family on the sidelines for the first time ever. Because it’s been so long and I feel like my body is in an entirely different place, I have no idea what I’m capable of running time-wise. Who knows if training at altitude (and a moderate drop in elevation for race day) plus winter temps (i.e. perfectly mild desert coolness) will magically add some zip to my stride that I haven’t felt in ages?

Along the way, I want to get my feet on as many trails as I can in this stunning new home of mine and hope to meet new running friends along the way. I have no expectations but for the first time in a long time, I’m freakin’ excited to run again.

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