18 miles and a swim in the ocean

This post was originally posted on my personal blog on 10/17/11. I’ve since transferred it to here.

Friday and Saturday were very low-key, but yesterday ended up being one of the most amazing days of this entire year. Grab a cup of coffee, because this recap is long.

Here’s the abbreviated (and less fun version): Marc and I ran 18 miles and jumped into the ocean.

Here’s the whole story:

nervous pre-run

I didn’t sleep well on Saturday night because I was SO anxious and excited for my next-to-last long run. All day on Saturday I made sure to drink water and I carb-loaded with rice at lunch and pasta at dinner. I felt prepared and just wanted to do it. But, my hopes for this run dissipated really quickly: my Garmin couldn’t pick up signal, I was tired, and the first 7 miles were Hell.

Waking up early was tough—I wish I could have slept a few more hours—but I met Marc and we started running just a little after 7 a.m.

He had filled me in on the plan to run to Atami and mentioned there were some rough hills along the way. What he failed to inform me, was the first 7 miles, of the 18, were straight up hill.


Those seven miles made this the toughest run I’ve ever completed—hands down, no competition. I alternated between cursing at the hills and cursing at Marc (inside my head… mostly). We would run as much as we could, and then walk for about 30 seconds before beginning to run again. I tried to keep the actual stops to a minimum because at this point I was worried that if I stopped for too long, I would probably not start running again.

Somewhere around the four mile mark my Garmin started keeping signal consistently and it was disheartening to see that our pace was sticking around 12 and 13 minute miles… but damn those hills were awful.

After my Garmin beeped that we’d finished 7 miles, I saw the most magnificent sight ever—the ocean, from the top of the mountains we’d just ran up.

view of ocean from izu skyline

And then, I looked down, and realized we finally got to take advantage of all that hill work because there was some downhill ahead of us. Finally!

izu skyline wrapping through mountains

You can barely see the little road in the middle of those hills, but that’s the direction we were headed.

marc at the top

We were both SO relieved. Surprisingly—and I’m not sure how—my legs didn’t feel nearly as bad as I had expected at this point, which was good because we still had 11 miles to go.

after the uphill

no more hillsmaria and marc

After a few sighs of sweet relief, we started the journey down the mountain. At first I thought, “Oh yeah, we’ll pick up some of our lost time here…” but I quickly realized that we had to slow ourselves down. The hills were a steep drop is some places and my knees weren’t feeling the greatest, plus Marc was having some ankle trouble.

After three miles down, we reached the ocean!

Running along the ocean on a Sunday morning might be my idea of heaven. It was beautiful—not too hot, the waves were crashing in, and there were plenty of people to watch.

running next to the ocean

We took a lap around the area we were before heading in the opposite direction. My legs were still feeling pretty fresh and I was excited… I mean, I was running next to the ocean!

We’d only hit the 12 mile mark at this point, so we knew we had to keep going. Our goal was to find the public beach in Atami. I’ve swam there and posted about it several times, so I just thought the idea that I would have run from home TO THE BEACH was the coolest thing ever. We ran along the highway and basically just kept moving in the direction of the beach.

My legs started to feel very dead around the 14.5 mile mark. I honestly started chanting in my head, “Don’t stop. Can’t stop. Don’t stop. Can’t stop.” At that point running felt so hard and it took every bit of mental toughness I had to continue putting one foot in front of the other one.

But, eventually it passed and I started to feel pretty good again around the 16 mile mark. At this point every step became a new personal distance record.

We ran the final two miles right along the beach. I felt good and we cruised along at about a 10 – 10:30 pace, which considering the previous 16 miles of running, I was DAMN proud of. As we neared the end of the run and had .10 mile left, I sprinted and gave it all I had. Puking felt like a very real possibility, but I didn’t run all this way to just putt around at the end…

possibly puking after long rungarin post-18 miles

And then, it was over. 18 miles in 3:45 (including all walking and stopping).

We smelled. We were exhausted. Our feet hurt.

So we did the only thing that seemed natural at the beach…

long run on the beachfeet in the ocean after running

We jumped in the water. After removing all my electronics and stripping off my T-shirt, I jumped right in. Who needs an ice bath when you’ve got the ocean in October?

marc in the ocean

Definitely one of the most amazing life experiences I’ve ever had. Would it have been as amazing if those first 7 miles had been easy-peasy? Probably not. The tough stuff in life makes us appreciate the good.

After playing in the ocean and inhaling some McDonalds, I took the train back home (God bless the poor souls who had to sit near us) and met J at the onsen.

onsen coffee milkmaria in the massage chair

Coffee milk and massage chairs…

So, I know 18 miles and 26 miles are quite different, but yesterday’s run gave me a huge confidence boost when it comes to running the marathon. If I could tackle 7 uphill miles and still feel pretty good at the end of the run, I feel like the marathon (which is mostly flat, I believe) will be doable. I guess we’ll see.

… 5 more weeks.



  1. great idea on changing the blog. I often want to share my blog with friends but certain blog entries (emotional eating, etc.) make me shy away from that. BTW you are crazy for signing up for another race!

    1. Thanks for the support Diana! I really appreciate it.

      Privacy is a big reason I’ve decided to go with a running/fitness only blog, but also the topics I’m interested in now aren’t the same as when I began blogging. That’s natural, I think!

    1. It’s a Bondi Band–you can google to find their site. They have tons of different designs and they don’t move when you run. :)

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