I ran 14 miles this weekend. In one run.

14 Miles 3

I might not believe it if it weren’t for the fact that God made me hyper-aware of everything I was feeling and seeing and hearing during those 14 miles. It’s like He didn’t want me to forget a single thing about my longest run ever, one that only He could get me through.

It was 36°, sunny, a little wind here and there, but nothing unbearable. Only a runner would think this was a great day to run, right? But it totally was.

Of course I needed to use the bathroom once I got to the lake but it was locked for the winter. No worries – a port-a-potty saved me just before mile 2!

From my very first steps, I was surrendering the whole run to Him. 14 miles is daunting, terrifying, not my everyday thing. I needed Him from step one. And I felt Him the whole way.

My lungs were not cooperating the first few miles. I have exercise-induced asthma so this is an ongoing battle with varying degrees of difficulty based on the season, weather, my health, etc. I needed to adjust to the chilly air and the wind in my face at times, but as I warmed up, they worked with me better, too!

I run at a beautiful lake in town when I can and there is always something new to discover. That day I heard lots of fun new bird calls, probably from birds just happy to see a little warmth and sun returning to the area!

The lake was still frozen, but ice and snow and thawing and refreezing had given it the appearance of white caps in the middle of a windy summer day. In the few thawed spots near the shore, geese were hopping in and out of the water and making all kinds of noise.

My plan was five easy pace miles to start, followed by five miles at my goal race pace, and then four “easy” miles to finish it out. The fast miles started and actually seemed to help my breathing a bit…and I ended up going a little faster than planned!

Halfway through my fast miles, I rounded the corner to my car to grab a drink of water and found my guys waiting there to cheer me on! They had left a note on my car in case they missed me! That was just the boost I needed to power through the second half of my run!

The last mile of my race pace miles was a little less…fun. My knees were feeling a little achy on any hills, and this last mile had a big hill followed by a long stretch across a dam…into the wind. As this was mile 10, I was not really looking for an extra challenge, but it felt GREAT to just tackle it!

When you run around a lake two whole times, you’re bound to cross paths with some of the same people out running or biking or walking, and in this case, some of them several times. I try to smile at everyone I pass at least, even saying hi if I can muster it up – I can’t help it, it’s that positivity thing in me – and at this point I was getting lots of “sympathy” and “empathy” smiles. You could probably tell I have been running for a long time and some of these people had been, too! I even got a “Hot damn!” from a guy running the other way around mile 11 – it seemed to be in response to how many times I had passed him running, but my hubby thinks he had other thoughts 🙂

Just before mile 11 was also when my FitBit told me I had reached my calories burned goal for the day! It was only 3 p.m.! That was a good laugh.

I try not to do much counting down during along run, but once I passed ten miles, this mentality was totally helping out: “I only have ‘x’ miles left! I can totally do this!”

Miles 11, 12, 13 felt GREAT! I was supposed to be back down to my easy pace but when my Garmin chimed for each mile, I realized I was never quite as slow as I intended.

Yes, I did look at my Garmin the very moment I passed 13.1 miles, my previous distance PR, and I couldn’t believe I was almost there. Every step now was the farthest I had ever run at one time. It seemed appropriate that an older gentleman that had walked past me once or twice passed me not long after and gave me a nod and a thumbs up.

I’m not going to lie. As great as 11, 12, and 13 felt, I was starting to feel the drag during mile 14. I just kept wondering why my watch hadn’t beeped yet and looking for landmarks that might help me figure out how much farther I had to go!

And then it beeped. 14.02 miles. 2:11:45. BAM.

14 Miles 2

And yes, my earwarmer was upside down the whole time.

I still had about a half mile to walk back to my car and my legs weren’t thrilled about that at first, but I was grateful for that cool down time, both physically and mentally – a little time to just savor the outdoors and the accomplishment of a new distance PR.

I ran the whole thing by myself, without music, and probably wrote 37 blog posts as I ran, of which only about two could be remembered worth anything afterwards. I prayed a lot and even talked out loud to God. I did not have one bored moment during the run – only peace and determination and a whole lot of dependence on the One who created this body and gives it every ounce of strength. It was all a very reflective time until…

I got back to the car and it wouldn’t unlock. I had kept the key fob in my bra the whole time and it got sweat in it. Well, this car needs that fob, because when I just used the key to open the door, it set off the car alarm. Let the embarrassment and panic ensue. It all worked out, but I will not be carrying a fob in my bra ever again!

I gulped down a bottle of coconut water to hydrate and headed home. I called The Hubby to tell him I was done and broke down in tears. Doing something you’ve never done before and never thought you could do can be pretty emotional!

In the past I’ve had trouble with stomach issues after long, hard runs, but since learning how to fuel and hydrate my body better, I’ve had very few issues. It was such a blessing to be able to scarf down a pizza after my shower, and then get right to work making a carb-loading dinner for The Hubby whose long run would be the next day. Sure, I was sore and tired, but I didn’t feel like I was going to collapse and that made the day even more of a win!

My longest run ever day ended just perfectly. Big J wanted to do everything he could to help me get comfortable – helping with a coaster for my smoothie, getting my ice packs ready, carrying things upstairs for me, volunteering to stay up all night massaging my legs! I took him up on everything but the all-night massage.

After foam-rolling and icing, I just soaked in the gift of this day and this life and drifted off for a really sound sleep.

14 Miles 1

I ran 14 miles. In one run.