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.