After deciding that we weren’t going to be doing the “group run” previously known as the Big Butts 100K Ultra Relay, Rebecca and I started scheming to come up with a good alternative.
She still needed a 26 to 28 mile long run (she is training for a 50 mile race) and I wanted to get in my 31 birthday miles. My birthday is still a week and a half away, but we are going to be out-of-town next weekend and I wanted to go ahead and get the birthday run done. The main reason that I wanted to do a 50K in general was just to get 31 miles in for my 31st birthday.
I think I started this tradition at 29. Although I didn’t have a blog yet, so who really knows what I did back then. One thing I like about blogging is the ability to look back and see exactly what was going on. I’m pretty sure that for 29, I did 29 miles, but it was a run/bike/paddle board event … so technically it was more like a birthday triathlon. The actual distances of the running and biking are fuzzy at this point. I know that I paddle boarded 2 miles, so 27 miles between biking and running … I think it was 14 running and 13 biking.
Actually the more I think about it, that was partially a lie. Not intentionally of course. It started at 26, not 29. I just remembered that on my 26th birthday, I tried to run 26 miles the day of my birthday, which was mid-week. I hadn’t done a marathon before, so that would’ve been the most I had run in one day. I got up really early and went to the gym before work and ran 13 miles. Daniel and I were going to run 13 more miles that evening after work. I made it 10 miles into the evening run and I was done. So close! And yet so far.
After that failed attempt, I must’ve spent 27 and 28 licking my wounds because I don’t remember even thinking about trying to do anything cool those years. Fun fact: I ended up running my first marathon when I was 26. Even though my birthday attempt wasn’t a success, I got it done a few months later.
Last year I ran 30 miles, but broke it up into two runs.
I texted Coach to see what he thought about still doing the 31 miles, breaking it up into two runs again. I decided that if he didn’t think it was a good idea, I wouldn’t do it. He responded saying that he was going to suggest that anyway, but didn’t want me to feel obligated. What?! Sweet. Didn’t have to twist my arm one bit.
For the first run of the day, we decided to run our “special occasion” route, which starts across the bay and runs along the Eastern Shore Trail. We usually do this as a 20 mile route, but the trail actually goes a good bit further. Rebecca mapped a 26.2 mile route for us. Rebecca, Jessica and I met early Saturday morning and headed across the bay to get going.
I actually walked out of the house in sandals and forgot my running shoes. How does that even happen? Luckily I had a (new) pair in my car and I had a pair of socks too. I really wasn’t planning to wear my new Launches yet, but … it happened. They are really nice and broken in now!
We started around 5:30 a.m. at Battleship Memorial Park. You can see the USS Alabama in the picture below.
The first few miles run along the bay on the Causeway. By mile two or three we were all drenched. It was pretty humid out and we knew that it was going to be a long day.
We saw the sunrise over the Delta. It was really pretty!
The route is really nice as far as bathrooms and water stops go. We stopped at mile 5 at Meaher State Park for bathrooms and to fill our bottles. We made it across the bay and stopped again at mile 9 to refill our bottles at Bayfront Park.
Miles 10 through 16 are fairly hilly and there aren’t really any places to stop for water, so we stopped again at the gas station at mile 10 and got some Gatorade. We decided to utilize a walk/run strategy on the hills to conserve our energy for later in the run. We walked up the hills. This will be a crucial strategy for Rebecca in her 50 mile race and Jessica and I were more than happy to help her “practice.” We took our gels around mile 13 on an uphill. Also good to practice fueling on the go (as opposed to stopping completely).
Before we knew it we were done with the hills. We made another water stop at a gas station at mile 16. In case you haven’t noticed, hydration was key on this run. I wasn’t really sure exactly how far I was going to go during this first part of the run. I was just playing it by ear. Once we got to 16, I decided that 22 was probably the most that I wanted to do at one time. I knew if I went much further than that my legs would be toast and it would be harder to recover and be ready for Part II.
Daniel ran with his buddies Saturday morning and then came out to
check on us save the day. He had a big water cooler in the back of his car and he brought us all cherry limeades for a post-run treat!
He found us around mile 21 and I decided that would be a fabulous time to call it a day (for Part I at least). I hopped in the car with him and we drove to the end of the 26.2 mile route and waited on Rebecca and Jessica to arrive.
Daniel filled up the windpouch and we hung out for a little bit and cooled down.
Y’all. Something is going on with my hair! I know that in general humidity makes it do crazy things, but it has been exceptionally bad lately. I’m not sure that the picture below even does it justice, but that is the remnants of a braid. The braid used to keep it from going crazy, but now … not so much.
Suggestions? I need help.
While we were waiting at the “finish line,” we found this handy map. Jessica and Rebecca ran from my left hand to my right hand. I stopped somewhere a few inches above my right hand.
They made it! So awesome! This was Rebecca’s unofficial 40th marathon and Jessica just ran a marathon on a whim. You know, no big deal.
We did our usual post-run hang out and drink all the drinks at Coffee Loft thing. It was a great morning!
I had 10 miles to conquer this evening. Thankfully, Daniel agreed to bike half of it with me and run half of it with me. We have a standard 5 mile loop that we run pretty often, so we decided to keep it simple and do that twice.
He biked the first 5 with me. Action shot!
After 5 miles we stopped by the house and he hopped off the bike and got in a little brick run. This got us on the topic of triathalons. Daniel is thinking about training for a half Ironman after his next marathon. I’m going to stick to the running.
After 5 more miles … DONE. 31 miles for the day. Glad to have that out of the way!
We caught the sun just as it was going down.
I think it is time for me to find a new birthday tradition … Who am I kidding? I love it. Seriously though, I might have to switch over to kilometers soon though. 32 kilometers is *only* 19.9 miles. That’s a little more doable!
I’ve got over a year to figure that one out. Right now I am thankful for the ability to run and for my wonderful running friends and husband who all helped me get through the miles today.
See ya soon!