Monday, March 26, 2012

20 Miles!

Last week, I completed my last, solo long run of marathon training. Can you believe that? I ran 20 MILES. Granted, I’m going to have to run more than that next weekend (as part of the Birch Bay 30K + a few miles) and I’m going to have to run 6.2 more miles on marathon day, but I still think it’s a pretty awesome thing. You know, if I’m tooting my own horn.

The 20 mile run feels like a huge milestone. It’s kind of THE big long milestone run of marathon training. It’s a really long distance and it’s about where many marathon training plans, particularly those for the first-time marathoner, cap out. It feels like the top of the mountain: if you can run 20 miles in training, you CAN run 26.2 miles on marathon day.

I went into this run with more than a bit of concern after I crashed so badly on that 19 mile run a few weeks ago. But, I knew it needed to get done, so I bit the bullet (after watching my Hoyas lose in the second round of the NCAA tournament) and went out and did it.

I’d decided that after my trip down to Seward Park for the 10K that I’d really like to do this run on the Lake Washington Loop, because doing YET ANOTHER run on the Burke-Gilman Trail wasn’t going to be good for getting through this one mentally. It really is a beautiful route, once you navigate getting on to it from my house. I had wonderful views and, because the weather was a bit icky (mostly mist, with a period of pretty strong, cold rain in the middle), there weren’t very many bikers out at all (I don’t mind bikes, really, but you do have to listen out for them and it can be a bit scary when they whizz past you on a narrow path). Another bonus: the Lake Washington Loop is really flat. I ran from my house to Seward Park, then realized that continuing on the loop involved some complicated bits and, instead, opted to do three loops of the park, before heading back the way I’d come. I ended my run at a Starbucks and immediately refueled with a hot turkey bacon sandwich and a hot chocolate (WITH the whipped cream – I can’t even remember the last time that I had it!). It was only 0.8 miles to a bus stop that got me two blocks from home.
I can’t even describe how much better this run was than the 19 miler (but, I’ll try). I mean, it was still hard, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing about running 20 miles that’s supposed to be easy. I decided somewhere around 18 miles that I’d rather take the bar exam five times than finish this run or run a marathon (clearly that was the glycogen depletion speaking). You spend a lot of time thinking about why you were stupid enough to sign up for a marathon on these runs. And then, you just get it done and feel better about the whole thing. I thought a lot about how proud I am of myself for being so committed to my training and how this was the end of all those miles and miles of long runs, plodding along by myself. I thought about the places that I’ve done these long runs over the past few months – Chicago, Central Park, the last few pre-training runs in Indianapolis, Philadelphia – and the people who ran with me (Duchie), waited while I ran (Sarah, Anna, Mahsa), packed me off out the door with promises of hot chocolate when I came back (j00jie), or who simply encouraged me and gave me the mental strength to keep going (Jules, my godparents, MC & JD, Dana, Lynne & Caz). I thought about the people who have donated to Cancer Research in memory of their loved ones and mine. And, of course, I thought about the people who I wished could see me running, but who are no longer here.

Not all of my thoughts were deep ones, of course. I thought about how much better water, spiked with limeade, was than sugary sports drink in my Camelbak. I thought about how funny my favorite podcast was this week, even though it was shorter than usual. I thought it was hilarious that I kept stuffing my gels down my capris, instead of into the pocket on the back of my skirt, by accident. I thought about how greyhounds have HUGE thigh muscles and look a lot like human sprinters in that respect (I was following one for a bit, out for a jog with owner). I thought about how pretzels were yummy. I thought about my hot chocolate. I thought about how I could take a walk break if I JUST made it to the big bridge up ahead. I thought about how much funnier David Sedaris seemed this week, as opposed to on my 19 mile run.

Nutrition breakdown:
5 miles – Gu
7.5 miles – salt tablet & a few pretzel nubs
10 miles – Gu
12.5 miles – salt tablet & a few pretzal nubs
15 miles – 2-3 Gu chomps & a few pretzal nubs
(probably should have done another couple of Gu chomps at 17.5)

So, yeah. That went well! It was a big confidence boost!


j00jiepants said... Reply to comment

"I thought about how greyhounds have HUGE thigh muscles and look a lot like human sprinters in that respect (I was following one for a bit, out for a job with owner)."

Greyhounds have jobs now!?

Although I also have no idea how the hell you jog with one.

Amanda@runninghood said... Reply to comment

Awesome! So exciting to be almost there...your first marathon. Yes, a whole SLEW of emotions goes with this!! I'm feeling it today.