Running 15 miles

Last week I ran 15 miles, and it was great. At least, it felt great in my heart and mind, if not in my legs. I am training to run the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon the end of April, and successfully completing a 15 mile run was a big landmark.

The temperature that morning was in the 40s, so I wore shorts and a long-sleeved T-shirt and gloves. I also wore the Camelback that Katie gave to me for water, and took some of those gel blocks, also from Katie. I had my GPS watch, given to me by Cyndi, which has opened up the routes I am willing to attempt for long runs. I don’t have to worry so much about planning my routes down the exact mile since I can GPS it.

According to my watch, my average pace stayed around 15 mpm, which was embarrassingly slow, but it did include walk breaks. And it was a pace I could maintain for the entire distance. I ran Galloway 6s for two hours, then 5s, and then 4s, to finish the run.

I got really tired and weary the last two miles, but I always feel that way during the last bit of my long runs. Two weeks ago when I ran 13 miles, I also felt weary during the last two. I expect I’ll feel weary next time when I run 18 or so. I guess that’s the point of training, to push the weary miles further and further away.

I do have seven marathon finishes in my log book, so I know what I’m getting into. That doesn’t make the training any easier, but it helps me remember that running long won’t kill me, and that it will all be worth it.

There are certain thresholds in life that change my perceptions about myself. The first one is running for an hour. The next is running for 10 miles. If I run 10 miles on a regular basis it makes me feel strong and invincible. Running 15 miles is another threshold. I guess the next is 20 miles. There is something magical about a 20-mile training run; it puts you in rarified air, up in the high country.

And now Chad and I have been toying with the idea of running an ultramarathon this fall. We haven’t picked the race yet, but in general an ultramarathon is any race 30 miles or further. To be honest, I can’t believe I’m even committing to this on paper. Why would I consider running an ultramarathon when I couldn’t run more than an hour just last year? And even now I’m so slow I am afraid I’ll someday just topple over. I am thinking ultramarathon thoughts because running 15 miles has given me hope, and hope is a mighty thing. Hope can overcome discomfort and reinforce dreams.

In fact, running an ultra is something I’ve wanted to do ever since I first learned about them, back in 1980. But I was never fit enough, or worse, never brave enough. Now that my friend Chad has called me out, I have to take it more seriously.

Personally, I’ve always thought of running to be more of a survival exercise than a sport. I like the idea of running long races and running in the mountains. Since I’m not a fast runner I might as well enter races that defy death. That’s why I’ve always wanted to run Pike’s Peak, and I hope to someday run ultras.

I recently played a game where you try to describe your life in exactly six words. My attempt to describe my life, looking both backward and forward, was, “Miles To Go Before I Sleep.” I hope I can stay healthy enough to keep running the long miles. I hope I have lots more threshold runs to conquer.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32


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