Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Not So Crappy 20 Miler

Damn 20 milers. We know we have to do at least one, if not more, of these during marathon training. Well, we don’t have to, but most training plans call for them.

I did one of my two 20 miles with my friend, Dean Karnazes (20.8 miles to be exact). I’m name dropping. Oh hell, let me do it. It’s the only name I’ve ever had to legitimately drop in my entire life. 

That 20 miler was three weeks ago, so it was time to amp up for another.

Thank you sir, may I have another? (Animal House: circa 1978. First “R” rated movie I ever saw. Do the math and you will realize I was 11. That’s right. Now you understand me just a bit better, don’t you?)

When planning my 20 milers, I try to get creative. Actually, I try to find a way to make it not feel like 20 miles. But, at the end of the day, 20 is 20 no matter how you slice it. Typically, I do an out and back or one big honking loop. This time I wanted to mix it up, so I came up with the brilliant idea to do loops around a local lake (obviously not taken today):


3.5 miles around to be exact.

20 divided by 3.5 is 5.71. Yes, I used a calculator. I didn’t have Steve Q’s phone number.

People warned me not to do it. Said I’d get bored. Said I’d cut the run short with the temptation of my car there. Guess you’ll have to read the end to find out if they were right.

Foreshadow: I love proving people wrong.

I am not a loop kind of girl.  My idea of hell would be to do one of those marathons or ultras where you do a million laps to get your mileage. So, I’m not sure why this sounded like a good idea. Wait, I do know why. Bathrooms. I’ve had some poop issues lately. Well, not lately, all the time. But, lately frequency has been an issue. I think it’s the penicillin, because that’s the only thing I’ve really changed in my diet.

In thinking about loops, I also liked the idea of having my car there with water, Accelerade, gels, sunscreen. I wouldn't, for once, have to carry the damn fuel belt that I am readjusting every 2.3 minutes. Also, about 75% of this loop is on a dirt trail – and we all know what that means for saving the legs.

I got to the lake at 7:00 a.m. Cheetah skirt came along:


Although I went at home, I immediately had to go again. Eff you penicillin! I visited the park bathroom and balked at the lack of TP. Dang it. That is NO way to start a run.

To get going on this long journey, I met up with a friend for the first loop. I have been helping  Kathy to train for her first 5K coming up in October. She just started running in July after having never run before in her life. I created a training plan for her that started out with lots of walk/run/walk scenarios and she built up her run time from there. She has done an amazing job. Kathy met me at the start of my run and I am proud and thrilled to tell you she did the 5K part in 33 minutes!! Huge accomplishment.

Right when we hit the 5K mark I had to crap again. Poor Kathy. I am not a good example of a runner. She probably thinks that if you train for marathons you crap every 33 minutes. Sometimes  you do.

I bid Kathy farewell and stopped at my car for a few quick sips of Accelerade. Started lap #2. Just so happens a 5K Fun Run was going on at the lake today. That meant 500 more people than usual would be sharing the path with me. I wasn’t sure what to think of this except that there were more porta potties available and they gave me water at the aid station even though I wasn’t wearing a bib.

Loop #2 went quickly. Some of the fast runners passed me and my competitive self kicked in. I was desperately trying to keep a long run pace today so I would let my body gain the true benefits of the run and so I wouldn't feel like crap for the rest of the day. But, when those guys zipped by, my pace quickened. I kept telling myself they were doing a 5K pace, not a 20 mile pace, but I still wanted to catch them. Of course, I didn’t, but I had some fast miles.

Stopped again at the car at 7 miles. Had a Hammer Gel and some water. Took an e-cap. Pranced on my way for loop #3. Again, went by without incident except for me catching up to all of the walkers on the race, which made for some clogged trail. I did my best to stomp and breathe hard so they would move over. Saying “on your left” would just be too easy. Sometimes they moved and sometimes they just let their dog’s leash meander right in front. I just LOVE it when people do that.

10.5 miles and heading into loop #4. Race is officially over but has now turned into a 500 people church service along the trail complete with a speakers. All 500 were praying and holding hands. It gave me goose bumps and actually made me tear up to see that many people completely still in prayer with the beautiful mountain backdrop. I pushed on.

14 miles. Took a second gel. Drank enough water that I felt sick once I started running again. Like with most aches, pains and ailments during long runs, they subside and/or get substituted by another ache, pain or ailment. If you run long enough you realize that stuff just goes away. Mostly.

17.5 miles. Ate half a banana, took in a bunch of water. Headed out for the last 2.5 miles.  Glad to be almost done.

20 miles in 3 hours! I stopped at 7-11 on the way home for a chile cheese dog 10 lb. bag of ice. You know what’s coming (Angel, this one’s for you):


Yes, I am using the ice packaging to cover things up. Kind of like the old olive leaf that Eve used way back when. Oh, calm down. Covers more than some bathing suits.

Ye Olde ice bath (I used to work at a Renaissance Festival so I know how to talk like that). I acclimated to some cold water, then had Ken pour in the ice. I guess he felt compelled to take a picture. I won’t tell you the caption he put on the picture. Take a wild guess. I managed to stay in for 10 minutes. Not a second longer.

So, what did I think about the loops? Not half bad. It’s like anything. If you mentally prepare, you can usually persevere. It’s all in your head. For me it’s about settling into the rhythm of the run and not buying into those moments when my body starts to hurt or when my head says, “you’re tired.” You’ve just got to keep moving. The great thing about long runs is there are highs and lows. That means sometimes you will feel incredible and other times you will feel like dog shit. Both will pass. The point is to stay in the game long enough to let the tough times pass and to move into the higher points. Then you learn that you can move through anything. At least that’s what works for me.

Don’t forget my $80 CSN Giveaway! Ends Wednesday.


  1. haha, great pic! you are a riot! love it! i ran 20 today too but i keep foretting it bc we ran a 30K so i just did a 1.4 mile cool down. BEAUTIFUL mountain view! wow! nice job, another 20 in the books!!

  2. i think you can drop that name for the rest of your life. seriously.

    and awesome job on the looped 20 miler! i have moments where i love doing looped runs too because i know i'll have a bathroom or whatnot (i sooooooooo feel you on the antibiotics wrecking havoc on your system!). and i think the multiple loops are really good for mental toughness.

  3. Beth - I had no doubt that you would be able to do the loops. I alsw had a feeling with everyone saying that it was hard and so tempting to stop . . . that you would be strong and prove us wrong.

    As you said - It is all mental . . . wel and being in good shape considering that 20 miles IS 20 miles.

    Enjoy - rest those legs.

  4. Great job on the run!

    I just started reading your blog and just love it! I always get a chuckle and it also makes me realize I am not alone in my own running issues!

  5. Well done. So, when you think poop, you do loops?

  6. I saw my first R-rated movie (The Blues Brothers) when I was 9. Ahhh, to be a parent in the 70s!
    Oh, yes, and congrats on your awesome 20-miler!

  7. I just posted on highs and lows yesterday. I've had my fair share lately!

    Great job on banging out a 3-hr 20-miler!

  8. I really like this post - and congrats on the 20 miles!

    I had my 9 mile run today (training for a HALF marathon) and so did not feel like doing it this morning. Then I remembered that you were running 20 miles today and I figured my 9 baby miles were nothing and I better do it, so I did. Thanks for the motivation!

    PS - I absolutely adore the animal print run skirt!

  9. great job on your 20 miler!!! i had 3 on plate but decided to cut it down to two!!! :) great job on your run lady! you rocked it!

  10. Haha poop-de-loops!

    Nice. I like running close to bathrooms too otherwise i get nervous. Its also nice to stash all your crap somewhere so you don't have to carry it all.

    Great job on your 20-miler. You can name drop that name for the rest of your life.

  11. Your legs look great! I'm going to take a picture of my legs under water! Not that your legs don't look good otherwise....oh crap, I'm going to shut up now.

  12. Hey, at least your gums did not bother you.
    I actually like ice baths but I always take hot tea with me.
    Congrats on a great run.

  13. I think in a way loops are better. Good for you for proving them wrong!
    BTW, Animal House at 11 is nothing compared to the Stephen King in 5th grade and pre-school Child's Play I have in my past!!!!

  14. You do know that you are going to smash through your last marathon PR don't you?

  15. Way to knock out a 20-miler; I'm impressed. I don't think I could do that many loops. I did a 30k once that was 3 loops and it took everything I had to make it through the third loop. Congrats on finishing and feeling strong.

  16. If you're going to do your long run in laps it may as well be in a pretty location with a race and a church service thrown in for entertainment. Sounds like you had a good one.

  17. I'm a frequent reader, although I rarely comment. I am a "runner-in-waiting," about to deliver my 5th baby in 6 weeks and looking forward to getting back to running a.s.a.p.

    I just wanted to let you know that one of your last sentences ("If you mentally prepare, you can persevere") is going to be my new birth mantra. I am planning a very natural childbirth and I've been mentally preparing for it in a way very similar to how I would prepare for long runs.

    Plus, sometimes you have to poop on the delivery table. So your blog is inspiring to me all around. :-)

  18. Good Job on the 20 miler, I run a lot of loops in my neighborhood so I'm used to it but you ahve a much better scenic route than I do!

  19. I don't mind loops at all. The trick for me is to get past the mental block of the first loop. "Oh shiz, I have to do this how many more times?!"

    My first rated R movie was a few good men. DID YOU ORDER THE CODE RED!? I was.....12? Maybe? probs younger.

    I'll admit that I clicked to zoom on that 2nd pic of you. "wait, does she have on any.......nope. HA! Awesome" Keeping it real. I've only done one ice bath and I never wear pants either (but almost always wear a sweatshirt). I've always wondered how I wuld post that to my blog. well done

  20. Beautiful scenery can make anything bearable. That's why I keep pix of my husband at my desk at work. Did 10.4 miles today and I might be feeling better if I'd stopped at 7-11 to pick up some ice.

    I've got to find a nice lake to run around! There's gotta be something in SoCal somewhere!

    Good job! You rock, Lady!

  21. Yep anonymous. Seriously. Who the heck are you anyway, and what does that mean?

  22. Awesome job! Love ready your blog, so inspiring!

  23. As a new runner, I think it's awesome that you did your first loop with your friend Kathy. I started running about 10 weeks ago. My 5K time is still 39 minutes (and I always feel like throwing up afterward), but when I started I was thrilled to run just 10 blocks. Your 20 miler is very inspiring!

    I've had mostly "dog sh*t" runs since I started. Every body part would hurt and my legs were always heavy. Last week I added some IT band stretches to my routine and I'm shocked at the positive difference it's made. Yesterday's run and today's run (2 miles each) were the most comfortable runs I've done yet. These last two runs actually qualified as "fun".

    I may not ever reach "marathon shape", but your blog and sense of humor inspires my 2-3 milers.

  24. I think it's awesome you ran with your friend who is a new runner. I'm so intimidated to run with faster runners that I usually go alone although it would be nice to go with someone.

    P.S. I'm very much in love with my husband but "seriously" nice legs :) Mostly I'm jealous of them now from that picture.

    BTW--who posts "seriously?" If your going to comment you should own it.

  25. I SERIOUSLY love your blog (maybe that's what anonymous meant?). Great 20 miler! I have my very first 20 miler coming up this weekend, and I'm scared to death...

  26. Great job with the 20 mile loop-de-loop. As I did my longish run this weekend, an out-and-back on the same path as almost all my long runs, I was contemplating doing multiple loops of a lake trail for my next long one. You've sealed the deal for me - thanks.

    I think you may have misread the church service. Having run at the altar of Dean, you are now a running deity. As word spread throughout the village, the worshippers began their pilgrimage to gaze upon she that Shuts Up ... and Runs. And lo, she did indeed pass through the gathered throngs, and they were overcome with profound running joy that only silence could express. And they gazed upon the cheetah skirt, and it was good.

    Such is the responsibility and the burden which you must now carry.

    And yes ... I am desperately trying to avoid actually starting my work week.

  27. ETR comment above: you have just totally made my day. That whole church service thing has me laughing my ass off.

  28. Nothin like runner's trots to liven up a 20-miler! I never thought about loops as giving you the opportunity to watch as the same scene changed, kind of cool. I'm guessing Dean is bumming he wasn't along with you, especially for the ice bath.

  29. I think I would like that loop idea for a long run. Sounds like things were nice and interesting for you! Nice pace!!

  30. Great run and so much to keep it interesting. Still, not sure I'd like to do loops for the long haul. I like different scenery and trails. I like the thrill that I just might get lost (weird? - maybe).
    Apart from the body stiffening up after you stop, don't you just feel so great after that long run? I love that feeling which is why I keep doing them.
    Taper week is going to be hell for me. In fact, today's run didn't seem long enough.

  31. Hey, you name-dropped me as well as Dean!
    3.5714285714285714285714285... also w/o calculator, but you probably weren't counting mileage down to the molecular level.

  32. great run! I just did 2 laps around a park and it was tortoure! It looks like a beautiful lake! All those distractions probably helps a lot, too.

  33. Love it! So glad you got it done!

  34. I run my 20s on an indoor track. It takes 11 laps to hit a mile. But I don't have to wear a stupid belt and bathroomas and cold water are oh, so accessible. Your lake looks like a lovely way to have the best of both worlds.

  35. Way to rock it! Can I just say I am absolutely in awe of that lake photo. Wow, beautiful!

    Yeah if Penicillin is bad . . . don't ever take prednisone . . . talk about gut problems!!! Ugh.

    Nicely done on the loop too . . . love the ice bath . . . need to do that more.

    Oh and you have a 2 year pass (at least) for name dropping when it comes to Dean K!!!! Hell, I drop your name as the "blog I read who ran with Dean K!" :-)

  36. You are a better woman than I am.

  37. You are braver than I for sporting just an ice bag in the blogosphere. Bathrooms & accessible food/water are exactly why I like loops, but sometimes the temptation to stop is calling. I always thought I had poop issues, but you definitely win lately.

  38. Nothing like a few obstacles to throw into the mix and keep things interesting ;) I ran into a Race on my trail, for the Second time ( I really should check their schedule) this weekend, too. Gah! Luckily this one was small, so my pace wasn't affected at all (unlike last time, where I did pretty much the same thing as you).

    Lookin' good in that ice bath, ha! Only you could get away with that ;)

  39. Ahhhh, the refreshing and revitalizing ice bath. Nice. They really do work. I keep my running socks on when I hop in - for some crazy reason, they keep my toenails from turning blue. :-) I think I may lose my mind on a 5 lap course. Good job on keeping focused. FYI, I think you and I may have to share notes on the intestinal "issues". Really. I have had them and have had all the tests. Nothing (thankfully) shows up positive on the tests. The docs just say I could stop running or doing high intensity workouts. Or not. :-)

  40. She Who Knows Fashion saw you out there. "Does Beth wear a leopard skin skirt?" "yep, that was her." I've been off the radar a and a new job(in addition to bartending) has left me with very little time...excuses, excuses! Hope all is well!

  41. Your run sounded great. I'm not a big fan of loops. But not carrying everything on a long run MIGHT be worth it. I guess you switch direction as you ran the loop to change it up a bit.

    Great ice bath photo. ;-)

  42. Great job! The first time my mom did a 20-miler, she did 20 1-mile laps of her neighborhood in SF!!! Now that's just crazy.

  43. wow... sounds like a lovely run! besides the couple stops for dumping ;) lol... 20 miles is amazing to me!! your ice bath picture made me chuckle haha!

  44. Hey, I LOVE your name dropping. I think you should try to get some major celebs to run your twenty miles with you or at least a loop or two...
    And what is IT with the pooping and the twenty milers...I'm so sick of it!!! I think we should consult a dr. on this matter. Is it age? Uh,'re A LOT younger than me, right?

  45. Looooooove the animal house quote.

    My current swimsuit is made of ice bags. Hot.
    Yay on the run. I loved "loops" in my outdoor running days.
    Sooooo your running the RnR AZ in January, right?! ;)

  46. Nice job on getting your 20miler done! I kind of like the idea of loops, but would see how it would be tempting to stop at the car for extra water and never start up again. I have my 18 miler scheduled for Wednesday, if my youngest feels better, and I'm already planning my route!

  47. Whoo hoo! You did awesome! And I think I could do loops like that- 3.5 is a good distance. Plus, being able to know where you are and where to run each loop can really make the time go by faster! Nice work!

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