Cornfields and Rolling Hills

21 09 2013

Long training runs are not my forte. It’s really hard to motivate myself to run long distances outside of a race environment. This weekend, my husband’s and my training plans necessitated getting a babysitter so that we could run at the same time before a college reunion we were attending Saturday afternoon. And once I’ve committed to a sitter, there’s no turning back! Our wonderful neighbor offered to get up super-early and even surprised my son with chocolate chip pancakes when we dropped him off!

Chocolate chip pancakes sound really good right now.

Today called for 13 miles. Too far for the treadmill, and too far for me to run alone where we live (also, I get lost very easily, have no sense of direction, and need a buddy to follow). So I strapped on a running belt, loaded it with GU and sport drink, and put one foot in front of the other beside my husband.

We headed out early to beat the rain forecasted for later in the morning. It was cool and drizzly when we set out, so I went back inside to get a long-sleeved tech shirt, which I regretted about 3 miles into our run and ended up wearing it tied around my waist on top of my belt for the next 10.5 miles.

I appreciated all of the little details on the back country roads around my county. We came across three small snakes (one had a brilliant black-and-white Damask-like pattern) and one large snakeskin.

I actually dreamed about baby snakes last night because my colleagues keep finding them in their classrooms where I work, so I was expecting to see some on our route. I carefully scanned the roads and ditches as I ran.

We noticed charming homes for sale. We ran alongside countless horses and cows, and even a lazy pond of ducks! The cornfields inspired us to research local cornmazes later this fall – although Virginia has so many family-friendly autumn events that all of our weekends were booked long before the season arrived!

Training run 4

Training run 3

Our total elevation change was 3782 feet. I tend to prefer uphill to flat, I think because of my stride and how my foot strikes the pavement. The narrow, rolling hills and hazy blues of the atmosphere were so picturesque.

Picturesque

Picturesque

I realized today that I run similarly to how I read. When I am reading, I get into a zone and don’t really hear people talking to me, and it takes a little while to refocus after the interruption. Profound, I know. When I run, I tend to go into that same zone so that I don’t think about running – a defense mechanism, if you will. ! I space out and reflect on all sorts of topics in my life (while still scanning for snakes and listening out for oncoming traffic). Today, when my husband said or pointed out something, I would snap back to the reality that we were running, and then (after asking him to repeat himself when I didn’t hear him between my one headphone, the stormy gusts of wind swirling around us, and the mental zone I was in), it would take a minute to get back into the groove of not thinking about running again. I am probably not the best running partner for that reason. I felt terrible every time I had to ask him to repeat something. I think I may aim to do this marathon solo.

I didn’t like the Vanilla GU I brought – I need to stock up on Espresso Love and Chocolate Outrage, two I actually really like. I did a GU shot at miles 4.5 and 10. Around 10, I hit a wall. My legs locked up and mentally, I was finished. But we were still almost 4 miles from home. I remember briefly sitting down on the path and telling my husband that I was done, which is odd because I did an 11-miler a couple weekends ago with no problem.

But we finished, with just enough time to get ready (the hot shower felt AMAZING after a windy, drizzly run!), let E finish his nap, and then head right back out the door and over the mountain for a college reunion tailgate.

I am loving Virginia in the fall! Lots of recaps of fall weekends to come, I’m sure. 🙂

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