Today I ran 9.01 miles. This is the farthest I have ever run. Ever.
To make the nine miles feel less like nine miles, I divided the run into two loops – one three-mile loop that I do all the time, and one six-mile loop, that I’ve done before, but not after already doing three.
It still felt like nine.
At some points if felt longer, like when I was struggling up the biggest hill of the run at the 7.5 mile mark. It’s a 1.2 mile stretch that begins with one long, gradual incline, then a sharp turn to the right where it flattens out just long enough to recover your full breath before three steep bumps spread out over the last half mile.
By that last bump, my stride looked more like a drunken limp.
I kept telling myself, “If I make it to the top of this hill, I can stop.” But, I knew I wasn’t going to stop. Not even, when at the top of the first big hill, I took a gulp of smoke from whatever the true-detective-looking homestead on my right was burning at the end of their gravel driveway. (Most of the paths around my zip code make me love Indiana, but there are a few spots that make me wonder.)
I know nine miles is a hiccup for real runners. Last week, after running eight – my biggest run yet at the time – I was telling a longtime friend and veteran runner that I was training for my first mini. “I did eight today,” I told her.
Turns out she is training too…for a full. She had done 19 that day.
As goes life, it’s all relative.
A year ago, the idea that I would attempt to run nine miles was as likely as me trying to run ninety. Running didn’t even register on my radar.
But here I am, overly exhausted, slightly achy, nearly four months from my 42nd birthday, doing things I’ve never done before.