A Scary Story to Tell in the Dark: The 15 Mile Long Run.

Remember this book!?


It was one of my favorites when I was a kid! I got it at a book fair when I was in elementary school and thinking back on some of the old stories I wonder if they still sell this sort of thing at elementary school book fairs anymore. They were pretty intense and the illustrations are straight terrifying. I think some of those still end up in my nightmares.


I chose this horse wearing one woman’s high heeled shoe because it is by far the least scary picture in the book. I’m too creeped out by the others to share them here, but if you aren’t familiar and want to know what some of them look like you can Google. Keyword “scary stories to tell in the dark”. Go ahead…I’ll wait…



Anyway, I have my own story to add to the collection and it’s just as terrifying as the charmingly titled Ghost with the Bloody Fingers. To me at least. We’ll call it:

The Long Run

So original.

It was a really dark and stormy night. Or more like a really dark and really foggy early morning. It did look like a horror movie setting out there, which is so ironic. My marathon training is officially in full swing and I set off on my planned 15 miler at around quarter of six. Because of my healing tendon, I gave myself a solid 2.5 hours to complete it and planned to run at an easy pace.

For the first half of the run, everything was pretty cool. I was feeling good and there was some nice humidity in the air that makes breathing so much easier. Around mile 8, I started to unravel. I was getting sore…not in my tendon, but in my glutes and quads. I took a quick fuel break hoping that would help. It didn’t. I got a small rock in my shoe and it was like that sent me over the edge. I started to freak out over how many more miles I had left and how slow I was going, which…who the hell cares? It was a training run and I was still well within the time I had allotted myself to finish. At mile 10 I came to a bridge over the highway and I stopped and didn’t think I could go any farther. I almost called my husband to come pick me up. I was only 10 miles in and how the hell was I supposed to run 5 more? Much less an additional 11 on top of that to finish a full marathon when the time came?

This feeling of complete and total fail washed over me and I actually started crying. Not even a pretty one either. Full on Farrah-from-Teen-Mom-ugly-cry, right there on the side of the road. I was terrible at this and why did I even sign up for this race in the first place!?

Thank goodness it was early in the morning and there weren’t many people out that would have seen me.


After a couple minutes I was able to regain some composure and kept going. I knew if I didn’t finish I would be really hard on myself over it. So I ran some. I walked a little bit. I ran some more. At around mile 13, I came to a busy area with traffic lights and trains that go by. I had to stop for both of these things and both times I almost couldn’t start running again. The lower half of my body felt like it had been dipped in cement. My ankle didn’t hurt, but my quads were screaming like they hadn’t in months and months. Last week’s 12 had been so easy compared to this. This was just horrible in every sense of the word. Worse than ghosts with bloody fingers. My worst run EVER.

But I finished it. I made sure my watched ticked just far enough for it to be my longest run to date and then practically fell on my face in the parking lot near my house.


At the time I felt zero sense of accomplishment; only fear and dismay and a whole bunch of other really negative reactions. How was I supposed to run 26.2 miles if I could barely suck it up enough to run 15?

The realization came a short time later after I had gotten inside, showered, drank like 5 giant glasses of chocolate milk, and laid on the couch in a half-coma for 45 minutes.


Well probably because…


A horror story in itself. I’m not 100% sure, but for my own sanity, I’m choosing to blame my 15 mile bomb on my recent stomach flu. Just because I felt okay by Friday evening doesn’t necessarily mean I was prepared to run my longest run ever on Saturday morning.

Hello? Dumbass?


Party of me.

So yeah it was bad, but it’s over and I’m moving on. Physically, I bounced back fast. I had a great yoga class on Sunday and a good 6 mile tempo run on the treadmill yesterday that left me feeling a little more positive. I’ve been having a bit of a hard time reconciling with the fact that my times aren’t what they used to be right now, but if I’m going to do this, I want to be smart about it so I don’t end up in the same position I was in before.

I have an 18 miler in 2 weeks. Fingers crossed.

Have you ever had a run go horribly awry? (I like to think most of us have at some point.) Do you remember that Scary Stories book??




76 thoughts on “A Scary Story to Tell in the Dark: The 15 Mile Long Run.

  1. MaybeMarathoner says:

    Okay, so I just checked your race history (which is awesome, btw!)…this is your first marathon? Don’t worry about it…it’s just part of the process. Training for a marathon is just so different from half marathons or less. That’s what is going to make the experience so incredible. I am sure that your next long run will be ten times better. Have faith–you’re doing great!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Yes it is my first. I definitely need to cut myself some slack, especially since I’ve had to re-adapt my original plan so much. Your comment just helped me so much. Thank you. 🙂

  2. afastpacedlife says:

    Yes, that book was one of my faves as a kid. So much fun to read in the dark around Halloween. I might not have slept.

    Glad you finished the long run. Good luck for your next long run.

  3. hellyontherun says:

    Of course I had that book! 🙂
    I’m sad that you had such a horrible run. I do think though, that runs like that make us stronger. You are such a great runner; tuck this run under your belt and keep moving. You got this marathon!! ❤

  4. littlegreenrunningshoes says:

    Aw Salt what a bad day. Good thing you pushed and made it to the end! Next time you will be able to go even farther. I’m rooting for you!

    We all have bad runs, it’s what makes the good ones so great! Keep your chin up and stop reading scary books!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thanks! You are awesome. 🙂 And what if the scary books made me run faster? I could get through my marathon by imagining the ghost with bloody fingers chasing me!

  5. Sarah says:

    I LOVED THAT BOOK. And yes, it was terrifying.

    My one and only 14 mile run was a lot like that. During my cool down walk I ugly cried the whole way home because my phone died and I wasn’t sure if RunKeeper saved it or not. (It did) – but just remember its the horrible runs that help you appreciate the glorious ones!

    • runsaltrun says:

      I’m glad it saved your run! The first time I did a 10 mile I accidentally stopped my watch and saved the run when I was like 2 miles in. I was SO MAD that I almost went back to re-run the first 2 miles which would have made no sense.

      Thank you so much for the vote of confidence! I am hoping to have an 18 miler to appreciate in 2 weeks!

  6. emmelineruns says:

    Honestly, I think some runs just go horribly wrong for no reason just like some are magical and fast with little effort and you feel wonderful. I think it’s just the nature of the human body and I’ve even read about elites who have tiny little 6 mile runs they can barely stay motivated to finish yet another day they can crank out sub-5 pace. I just force myself to finish then congratulate myself for getting the mileage in because running the tough miles is what is going to help you get through the horrible parts of the marathon. And you appreciate the great runs so much more after a few of those bad ones 😉

  7. bpangie says:

    Weren’t there like three of those books? I think my mom made me wait until I was older to read them. Haha. Running after a bug is never easy, even if you feel good, your body is still hating itself. I like to think it makes you stronger though – maybe not… Good for you pushing through. Glad the ankle felt good.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I think there were! I never read the other ones. I was too traumatized from the first one.

      I’m going to go with the thought that it makes me stronger. I like that. Thank you. 🙂

  8. ambertherunner says:

    OMG that book. I definitely remember it. Great for sleepovers, but not great when I had to sleep in my room alone the next night.
    I’ve had some pretty awful runs, but I don’t think any could be blamed on the flu. You’re a trooper for making it through 15 miles. At least yesterday’s tempo went well 🙂 usually when I have a sucky run, the next time or two that I have a fantastic run, I’ll use it to remind myself that I’m not terribly out of shape or incapable of finishing a workout. It’s the little things that cheer me up 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      That’s exactly what I told myself yesterday. It was my best paced treadmill run since I got back into it, which made me feel really good about myself. 🙂

      Thank you so much. It’s so nice to hear that I’m not alone!

  9. Michele says:

    I’ve had good, great and horrible training runs! Each one taught me something and I had something to take away from them. There is one marathon that will go down in history as the WORST of all time. Not the worst finish time for me, but the worst mental and physically painful one. Who runs a marathon 2.5 months after hernia surgery, where they had to open me up? This girl did. Was it a proud moment for my pink hat? Nope. But I got it done and from that point on, I learned a very valuable lesson. I’m super proud of you and know that you will have an amazing marathon, you’re too good not to!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Oh my gosh! That’s pretty insane and amazing that you were out there so soon after your surgery! I already thought you were bad-a and that just solidifies my belief. 🙂 Thank you so much for the support. I’m just going to be looking forward from now on. 🙂

  10. Change of Pace says:

    Stay positive! Bad runs happen, and I defintely know the flu had a lot to do with how you felt!
    Plus, whoever thinks running is easy is lying. Some days it is easy, but others it’s downright miserable….for everyone! And, 15 miles is crazy far!
    Revel in the success of your furthest run, and know it’ll be better next time!

  11. Kristin says:

    I loved that book SO much and OH, I’m sorry you felt like that during your run. I’ve had a few of those “cry it all out” moments and they’re not fun. I feel your pain but am so glad you finished your run!! It’s not easy to go a different pace you’re not used to, too. It always throws my body off. I’m proud of you!! You got through it like a champ!!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thanks, lady! You are such a positive person and always make me smile! It is so hard to take it easy and slow down for my long runs. It’s like I don’t know how! I’m just so competitive with myself and want to go-go-go all the time so this has been quite an adjustment. I’ll get there. Hopefully by May 25th haha

      • Kristin says:

        Awe, THANK YOU!!! XOXO!! 🙂 Well, I love reading your blog!!
        I know what you mean about pace. When I first started running longer, it was like my body was getting fatigued from just going slower. I finally took the advice of my husband and just went with how I was feeling and it usually worked out great!

  12. Hannah S. says:

    I’ve been there! It gets better, too! The more long runs you do, the easier it’ll get. And don’t worry about “breaking down”, the first marathon my sisters and I trained for, my older sister cried during just about every long run, and now she’s a beast at them 🙂

  13. Diana says:

    I remember a 10 mile training run that resulted in me wanting to sit down on the curb and just cry and call my husband to come get me. SO…. I hear ya. I think the universe throws those kinds of runs at us just to remind us to appreciate the runs that really kick ass.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Yep that describes me to a T the other morning and I really like your thoughts on this. At first I saw absolutely no silver lining in any of it, but now I think I’ve actually learned something. Thank you!

  14. piratebobcat says:

    Don’t worry about it! I’ve had the same thoughts on runs. Some days I just don’t have it, then other days I feel like I can run forever. And don’t look ahead to your goal distance, you take baby steps to get there, don’t worry, you will.
    BTW, I don’t mean to laugh, but I just pictured myself driving past you as you stood there sobbing by the road. I imagine I would lift my hand to cover my face so you don’t see me driving past you in a slight state of fear of the whole scene. Haha!
    Here’s hoping your next long run is a good one!

    • runsaltrun says:

      That was exactly how I was feeling the other day. And then Monday was okay, so I’m hoping for another enjoyable run tomorrow to remind me why I actually love doing this even when I hate doing it. 🙂

      Thank you so much! I’m heading over to check it out now. You made my afternoon!

  15. Button says:

    I remember being thrilled about getting that book from the book fair and then sleeping with the light on for a good week or so because of those damn illustrations! Who thought that was a good idea?!

    That neurovirus is no joke, when I worked at the nursing home it would make it’s rounds twice a year and linger for the longest time knocking residents and staff alike on their ass for days or weeks. Stay hydrated & rest up!

    • runsaltrun says:

      I DON’T KNOW!! The illustrations are what really make it terrifying! Here’s nightmares for the rest of your lives, kids!

      Thank you so much. I’m definitely feeling better now. It’s crazy how that illness is sweeping through everyone I know!

  16. fitnessmeetsfrosting says:

    Aww I’m so sorry you had a craptastic run! But yes, it was most definitely from having a stomach bug!! Try not to think about the marathon distance. Remember, there was a time when all of us thought a 5K was IMPOSSIBLE. Wait, or was that just me?

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you. I’m hoping so too and I hope we both have whatever nonsenses we’ve been dealing with out of our systems now!

      And oh hell no it was not just you. 3.1 miles used to seem like an eternity. Sometimes it still does. The last time I ran a 5K I was thinking “why is this not over yet!?” Granted the course was nearly a quarter mile too long haha.

  17. Andrea says:

    Runs like that are so hard, definitely physically but even more so mentally. You pushed through it though which will be so helpful during your marathon. It does sound like your body just wasn’t at 100%. Hopefully you’ll feel a million times better on your next long run.

  18. Kristy says:

    Girl… This JUST happened to me but on my race day!!! Stomach flu=dehydration=awful race! I literally felt like I was going to pass out by mile 9!!! Great job on your 15 miles! You rock!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Oh no!!!! I’m so sorry you were sick and that timing couldn’t be more horrible. 😦 I’m reading your post right now though and it sounds like you killed it despite being sick! You are amazing!

  19. northernambitions says:

    Good on you for finishing. I’ve had one of those experiences and ended up calling home for a ride. So sad and frustrating. Also I’d say the stomach flu counts as a contributor to a bad run

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you so much. I’m still kind of surprised that I was able to get myself home. As soon as I walked in the door there was more crying and I told my husband all about how he almost needed to come pick me up. (He just looked at me like I was crazy. He doesn’t run so he really doesn’t get it.)

  20. candies & crunches says:

    Oh no! You should be so proud of yourself though! Unfortunately, we all have those hard runs. And what’s even crazier is that it doesn’t even has to be a long run. I’m sure you have nothing to worry about, make sure to recover from your flu though! Btw reference to Farrah crying made me seriously to almost laugh out loud on the bus which is FULL of people lol! Keep up the great work you are doing!


  21. Pandora Viltis says:

    It sounds like you might have had a little mental hurdle in your run and psyched yourself out. I know that happens to me a lot. I’m sure your next long run will go so much better.

    • runsaltrun says:

      You are definitely right. I’ve never gotten into that headspace before, but it’s not someplace I’d like to revisit anytime soon. At least I will probably be better prepared for it next time though! Thanks, friend. 🙂

  22. missadventuresinrunning says:

    I am so sorry! I definitely know how upsetting bad runs can be! I think it says more about you that you overcame that and finished!

  23. SoWhatIRun says:

    Loved this!!! So glad you eventually came around and realized that you ran you longest run when you weren’t particularly at your best health-wise. Imagine what you will do when you’re 100%! Knock’em dead!

  24. irishrunnerchick says:

    My God that book looks horrifying. I can’t believe it’s for children!

    I think bad runs happen in all training plans. Usually mine are followed by insanely awesome runs shortly after – I hope that happens for you. And you did your longest run ever. So congrats for that!

  25. Running Betty says:

    I’ve definitely had runs like this before! I’m always so glad I stuck it out and finished, even if it wasn’t pretty! Congratulations on completing your longest run! That’s definitely something to be proud of! Hang in there! You got this!!

  26. kristenk says:

    Oh no! I’ve been there and it is the WORST. Not just on your body but on your mind. I’m so proud of you for getting through it! And lol at crying like Farrah – I never thought of that one! At my wedding I was freaking out because I didn’t want to cry like Kim Kardashian (google image search that one, it could be in that scary book!) but Farrah is another good one!

    • runsaltrun says:

      OH GOOD LORD. I just Googled the Kim K pic. Hahaha that’s pretty bad!
      Thank you so much. I’m just happy it’s over and looking forward to making up for it in the 18 miler. 🙂

  27. Jennifer says:

    Ahhh I remember those books! Very proud you finished it! If you can do 15 miles after battling the flu.. you will be able to do 26.2! I’ve had internal cries before and as a swimmer growing up I would cry when the coach would punish the team with sprint sets (luckily no one could see tears behind goggles and water hehe).

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you so much! That’s what I’m hoping! One way or the other I WILL be a marathoner at the end of next month. (Hopefully all stomach flus will stay away for the race.)

      My brother is a swimmer. He has had to do that too. (I’m not sure if he’s ever cried, but I sure would.)

  28. runcolbyrun says:

    Sweet Jesus. We are seriously living parallel lives. (Minus the adorable child.) My 15 mile run last week was an ABOMINATION. Cried. Threw my running shoes into the laundry room. And let out a plaintive wail (a la Nancy Kerrigan clubbing incident). AWFUL. Defeated. Almost emailed the race director of the Vermont KeyBank Marathon and withdrew. I know how you feel. And it sucks. For every bad run, is a good run. Which make the Good Runs all the more sweet. Thankfully for me it came a week later, pre- Run Divorce. Phew. I’m glad I’m not the only one. Keep at it Salt. With downs come ups. Way ups. Love the blog. Love it. 🙂

  29. txa1265 says:

    Not sure how I missed this, but so sorry you had a crappy run! I think that the important thing to remember is that we ALL have them, and so long as there is no injury involved, we can pick ourselves up and try again. Of course, that is what we known when we aren’t in the middle of one! 🙂 Glad today is better …

    I had actually never heard of that book, but maybe it is one of those things that falls between when was young and when my kids were younger …

  30. Megan @ Meg Go Run says:

    I totally remember that book! I loved scary stories when I was a kid. Congrats on your LONGEST RUN. Do not fret…. some runs are just bad! We can’t feel 100% all the time. Some mornings I wake up feeling fine, then I start my run and my legs feel like lead… no rhyme or reason, they just do. Take care of yourself, and attack that 18 miler! Your performance on your 15 has nothing to do with the 18 you have coming up. It will be a new run on a new day. 🙂

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