At a crossroads

While on my 18-mile run this morning, I realized that I often compare my marathon training experience this year to what I did 3 years ago. The thing is, as of this run, there is nothing to compare it to. On the last weekend of September 2007, I ran 18 miles. I'm not sure why, but I remember that run very well. My blog entry about it helps, but I clearly remember how awesome the weather was, how good I felt during the run and ... wait for it ... how flat that run was. While Richmond has some good hills, my southside neighborhood was pretty flat. In hindsight, those 18 miles were crazy easy. It is now impossible to compare any of those long runs to what I am doing now.

Today's 18 miler around Bedford was just like any run around Bedford -- hills, hills and more hills. According to data from my Garmin, the elevation gain was 1,180 feet. On an elevation map, a run like this looks so intense -- while doing it though, I'm not really even thinking about it. I'm just running.

On another note, 15.3 miles into my run, I hit mile 800 for the year. When I hit 700 miles a few weeks ago, I found myself at an interesting spot -- at a stop sign. Today I found myself in another interesting spot -- at a railroad crossing.

Railroad crossing while marathon training

It's truly a sign of how my running has gone in all of 2010 and even more a sign of how marathon training has gone recently. While I admittedly struggled a bit in the last few miles, mainly due to running out of water, this run went so well.

National D-Day Memorial Bedford Virginia

Not once did I even think about cutting it short or try to run somewhere flatter. Today, sort of subconsciously, I challenged myself to hills that I hadn't touched on my runs in Bedford yet. Going uphill to the National D-Day Memorial and then coming downhill on Burks Hill Road between miles 12-14 were grueling, but I know how much better moments like that are going to make the Richmond Marathon.

Now that I've taken on today, I feel like I've hit some kind of milestone. For a while now I've been trying to put some of my running-related past behind me, but I haven't been able to very well.

Today, though, I have this feeling that I can move on and stop talking about what I did a few years ago. I'm defining myself as a runner this year and I can't wait to see what the next couple of months (and years) hold.