I'm heading out for my first 20 mile run tomorrow. I'll admit that I'm a little bit apprehensive about it. It strikes me as funny that when you run the full marathon you have a plethora of people to help you along the way, but when you do 6 miles less, well, you're on your own. No aid stations, no cheering crowds, no water stops, no several thousand other runners panting along with you. When I ran 18 two weeks ago, I was pretty tired at the end. I couldn't have possibly done an additional two miles. I'm hoping that this was due to my not taking on enough nutrition along the way. So, I'll be sure to handle that differently tomorrow. My legs feel good. I've had a few days off. My plan is to run the actual sidered chilly, but warming as the day progressed into a glorious bluebird day. The first few miles flew by with ease. Since we cut six miles off the marathon route by skipping the beltline portion, we hit the infamous Battery Hill at mile 9. I'm happy to report that it was completely manageable. Things may be different when the hill occurs at mile 14 on marathon day, but I’m sure that the Taiko Drummers will help motivate me! Miles 9 to 13 passed without much incident. We did make one wrong turn, and as a result missed running through one of the north end neighborhoods (a mistake that I don’t think will be reproducible when there are several thousand other runners and course volunteers nearby). It was at mile 13.5 that Paige and I parted ways for the day. My pace was probably never equal to hers, but she was nice enough to slow down for me. But now that my pace was really starting to slow, I told her to run ahead and not wait for me.
I didn’t start to feel my knees complaining until somewhere around mile 14. I was getting pretty tired by the time I hit mile 16, but I managed to keep running with some very brief walks inserted. By mile 18, knowing that there were only two mile remaining, I was able to run all the way to the Waterfront Park finish line without stopping, I know that there is a theory of “race day magic”, I’m hoping that this magic is enough to carry me through miles 20-26 on race day. I’m imagining that these miles will be quite a struggle. I guess time will tell. It’s only five weeks until marathon day and I have one more 20 mile run planned before I begin my taper.
George Mallory, the famous British climber, when asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest is quoted as saying “because it is there.” My Dad always thought that he should have said something more prophetic, like “I climb because it makes beer taste even better.” I enjoy the convenience and necessity of energy packs like Gu, but with that said, the best news of the day was that, after running 20 miles, I got to enjoy a completely guilt free stop in at Al’s French Fries for a cheeseburger, french fries, and a soda. Perhaps this is the best part of running long mileage (and the beer doesn’t taste too bad either)!