After getting home from work at 12:30 a.m. and to bed at 1 a.m., I realized as I set my alarm clock for 4 a.m. that I didn't need to take my contact lenses out before bed because, technically, this was just going to be a nap.
I had to get up at 4 a.m. in order to get to First Landing by 5:30 a.m. and have plenty of time to run the scheduled 20 miles before my noon shift at work. As I dragged myself out of bed, I felt some soreness in my kneecap and wondered if I should not run, maybe put it off until Sunday (which I didn't want to do b/c of a trip to D.C. that would be thrown off by my hobbling if I ran that same day).
I said, "no, no, no" and proceeded to gather the million things it takes to run for five hours.
When I arrived, it was pitch black. I forgot that the side streets in Virginia Beach don't have much lighting (I had to run side streets until the park opened at sunrise). I had trouble seeing in front of me and had to use my light on my watch constantly as I timed my 4-minute-run/1-minute-walk routine.
I took my GUs and drank my Gatorade regularly and discovered something amazing...I was feeling wonderful. By "I" I mean my endurance, not my little legs, which were already hurting by mile 10.
I carried a pace chart the whole way to see if I could stay on track. My goal for this 20-miler was to see if I could do it in the required 5 hours-or-less I have to "beat the bridge." My past long runs were kind of close, but not really.
So when I got to mile 14 and it was better than last week's 14, I was thrilled. When I got to mile 18 and it was better than the 18-miler two weeks ago, I was giddy. When I realized, at mile 19.25 that I was going to finish in under 5 hours, I practically cried. I thanked God throughout my run on Saturday, but I was praising him those last steps. My prayers were being answered. I finished with 6 minutes, 20 seconds to spare.
(Side note: I fight with myself a lot on praying for good runs. I know there are people out there who are praying for much more important things in life and this is really nothing. I know that. I do. And I pray for them, too.)
I had less than an hour to get ready for work, and then I worked my eight hours, practically falling asleep at the computer (which doesn't bode well for how the section turned out....). Today, I stretched before getting out of bed, and while I have some pains, none seem serious.
I am just so grateful. So very, very, very grateful.
I realize that I still could get pulled off the course, that the hills in D.C. may affect me, that ANYTHING can happen. But this successful 20-miler gave me such hope. And the fact I was still able to do my 4-1 run/walk even in the end gives me hope that I can keep pushing forward to 26.1.