Saturday was my last really long run (18 miles) before the Quad Cities Marathon, and it was a glorious end to this phase of my training.
The weather was absolutely perfect - cool, with a slight breeze, and sunny. I will be a very happy woman indeed if the marathon is that nice. Better still, it stayed consistently nice the entire time I was out running.
It was a fun day to be out, too. I started by running downtown and to the river, where there was a lot going on. Set up was underway for the Viva Quad Cities Festival - including a 5K race that I didn't know about until Friday night. Bad job with the publicity, guys. At the same time, people were gathering for an Alzheimer's Memory Walk, so I sent a little love up to my Grandpa, who did with the disease. There were lots of people out on the path by the river riding bikes, walking, running, or just watching the water.
As I did my neighborhood loops, I tried my best to enjoy every moment of it. I feel so much stronger than I did when I started my training for this race. I have four 20 mile training runs under my belt. My speed work is going great. And I think I have learned how to focus better, allowing me to keep going past the point of... not exhaustion, but rather monotony.
Then, with one mile left to go, I felt a very strange feeling in my knee. It was a stinging, burning feeling that actually reminded me of the sensation I got a few weeks ago when I was pulling weeds and got hold of a stinging nettle. I actually swatted at it, like a bee had stung me. Then, I thought calmly to myself, "This will pass." I kept on running, reminding myself gently that this weird feeling was not going to stop me. Sure enough, it faded in just a few minutes.
I had a realization: when I got to the end of the street ahead of me, all of my high mileage weeks would be complete. Just past that stop sign was my taper. I raced for it, then had a relaxing walk home.
I am grateful for my long runs. I am grateful that I have built the strength, confidence, and focus to run as far as I have. For Steve, happy to spend Saturday mornings hanging out with Jack while I run. For Jack, who unfailingly asks me if I had a good run and is always happy to snuggle up and relax with me when it's over. For being able to complete all of these weeks of training with no serious injuries. For all of the time I've been able to spend out on the road, completely alone and happy to be running.
And now, I taper, doing my best to relax (ha) before the big day arrives.