The Long One…

Tuesday’s Workout Wanda: A 2ish mile run, out to get sunglasses, only to run home in the dark.
Wednesday’s Workout Wanda: A 1.4 mile run on a “test run” of Chris’s newly tuned up bike.

Exactly 12 days ago I ran 20 miles. Yup, twenty miles. It still feels a little unreal but at the same time it seems so attainable. Apparently all of the melodramatic self talk going down in my head at the time has vanished…because yes, there were definitely a few times when I seriously doubted my ability to ever run that far again, let along an additional 6.2 miles! But at the moment the 26.2 miles seem possible – not fast, not easy, not super duper fun, but possible. I’m excited to see if that is true…

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For the Twin Cities Marathon in 2009 my longest training run was a 20 miler and it also went down as part of a race. Back then I ran the race with two friends – one went for the 10 miler, another stuck with me for most of the 20 miler. And to this day I think back to that race and remember how much it sucked, because it truly sucked. I had fun with my runner friends, the course was beautiful {something I noticed more of the year before during the 10 miler} and the weather was decent but I was a mental mess, the miles hurt and I was discouraged.

This time around my 20 miler was just me and a bunch of running strangers. I went in a little worried about the distance but came out feeling confident in my ability to run 20 miles…and feeling pretty darn good about the prospect of 26.2 miles. There were definitely moments of serious self doubt and I did bargain with myself promising to never again run a marathon. Obviously most of that has faded away – much like the distain I had for running after my first marathon…maybe I can talk my way into a cruise after this marathon too?

But first let’s look at how I ended up running this training run/race with a running group I discovered last minute…

I was freaking out about this long run. More so I was terrified that it would suck and I would get a bad attitude about the race. Considering I went into my first marathon with an “I’m going to fail” attitude I knew I needed to be at least a tad bit more positive this time around…and I knew that a lot of this depended upon at least a decent 20 miler.

There were a few choices – run 20 miles alone, run the Cherry Creek Sneak 10 Miler + 10 on my own, run some with the BRC running group + the leftovers on my own OR pay $25 to run the full 20 miles with the Rocky Mountain Road Runners group as part of their training race. I dug the $25 out of Chris’s wallet and headed up to Twin Lakes Park…

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The course they had set up took us out 5 miles than looped back. This gave everyone the choice of 10 or 20 miles. Water stations were set up at the start, 3 mile out and 5 miles out – this meant that over 20 miles I hit water stations 7 times, not a bad deal. And they even surprised me with a bib! Sweet…like a legitimate race without paying a gajillion dollars.

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…speedy fast me killed a gnat, er sumtin…

On top of the price the race was run amazingly well. I’m always prepared for large races to be hectic and busy so I figured that such a tiny race {35 finishers or so} would be quiet, lonely and awkward. It wasn’t. I didn’t really chat with many people but everyone was friendly, the director was awesome and every. single. person. was supportive. Truly amazing people, whose names I may never know…since I’ve promised myself I’ll never run another marathon, or something like that.

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Out on the course I learned a lot about myself. It sounds corny and cliché but I really did. I was running alone, lost in my own little world, thinking my own lonely thoughts and actually focusing on my running. Not obsessively, but I was consistently checking in on my body, my legs and my heart rate. I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, at least not on a long run. It actually prompted me to come up with a plan – maybe even legit enough to be called a strategy – for race day. This is what I figured out…

1. Solo running really isn’t that bad. Usually I’m afraid of long runs along because I’m worried I’ll get bored or wimp out but the few other runners, super friendly water stop hosts and sheer will power kept me company. It may have been a supported race but I ran 19 miles of that run all by myself! However, most every other runner at least nodded when we met on the trail, most waved or said something that sounded encouraging as we passed.

2. Relax. During my group speed work our coach is always telling us to relax and let our shoulders drop. I’m pretty good about this for the 62 second I spend sprinting but when I’m plodding away for hours I clench up, and it starts to hurt! I spent a lot of time focusing on staying loose, keeping my breathing easy and just running – my arms/shoulders/neck did not hurt as much as they have after long runs in the past.

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…mile 10 turn around…
{kidnapped from
RMRR’s photos}

3. Water stops are amazing. Seriously, amazing. Also, 3 miles can seem like eternity! After mile 5 I was doubting my ability to cover the 20 miles, then I stopped by the water station at mile 7, drank some water and briefly chatted with the two volunteers. For the next mile my confidence was through the roof, then it came crashing down and I seriously considered calling it a day at 10 miles. But the same thing happened at the 10 mile turn around – I felt like crap coming in but after some awesome support from the director and volunteers I was feeling like a runner again. I don’t think this is coincidence – I’m going to be living for water stations in Fargo! The human interaction and few seconds away from “run. run. run.” was a massive boost for me!

4. I’m going to need my mom! I’m a bit of a mommy’s girl to begin with {you should hear me whine to her when I’m sick…} but on top off that she is going to be my only full time cheerleader in Fargo, and I’m going to desperately need that. I have a friend running the half so I’m sure I’ll hear her near the finish but I’m really concerned about the rest of the race…you know, 26.2 miles. I’m already depending heavily on the water stations volunteers and just knowing my mom will be somewhere between mile X and mile Y will make a huge difference with my mental game! Besides…I’ve already mapped out her “cheer zones” and have mentally prepared a mini cooler with some just-in-case items, like a boat load of ibuprofen!

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…bringing it in! finally…
{also kidnapped from
RMRR’s photos}

In the end I walked away from the race feeling confident. Tired, sore and hungry but confident. I didn’t want to break my promise to my distressed running self about never running another marathon so in my silly runner’s high I slightly modified my promise…I will never again run a marathon where 18 weeks or training are required. Or 15 weeks. Or even 12 weeks. If I ever decide to take on the 26.2 again I must have the base miles that allow for about 10 weeks of training. That’s it, nothing more.

Spending so much time focusing on running and training and numbers and distance and all that gibberish is just too much on my poor pathetic brain. I can’t do it. I’ll never be a crazy long distance runner who lives from 15+ mile runs. Instead I’m out to take on the half marathon with vengence…sometime this fall. Besides, with Jena moving onto the full marathon someone in my tiny blogosphere needs to stare down the 13.1…

And all of this thinking about marathoning is starting to terrify me so that’s all I have for right now – I’ll be back later with a little blurb on goals, also known as survival methods, I have in mind for this race. I might be eyeing up some numbers, but casually. Spoiler alert – primary goal is having a solid race so I won’t need to have another redemption marathon!


Comments

The Long One… — 11 Comments

  1. Dang girl…you’re going to do awesome on your marathon! I honestly don’t know if I ever want to do one, but I totally agree with the training schedule thing for my future races. I HATE being on a training schedule.
    Lena @Fit on the Rocks recently posted..A Weekend With Blends- Part 1My Profile

    • Thank you!
      When I have a strict training schedule I go crazy, with absolutely no training schedule I sit on my butt all the day…I need to invent a happy medium!

    • Thanks!
      I can always tell when my body is getting really tired – my head starts to lag to the side and I kick myself in the ankles but its always the hunching that hurts the next day!

    • Thank you! :)
      There is something about knowing that someone else {or lots of other someones} are enjoying or suffering thru the same distance and conditions as you are! Keeps me moving!

  2. This is very inspirational.. I am sure a lot of people can get a motivation from this to be physically fit and have a healthy living always..
    Jhenny recently posted..I Am LanguageMy Profile

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