It’s not often I dedicate a post to one workout, particularly if it’s running. When I go to CrossFit, especially the endurance classes, I learn so much about my form, my tendencies, and things to improve that I could probably write all damn day about what I’m thinking. But running? What can you really say about one run? I put one foot in front of the other 20,000+ times. So did everyone else who ran a long run of more than 10 miles this weekend. Big whoop.
But really, I feel pretty proud of this Saturday’s run and I just want to talk about it. I ran 20 miles. I know many people have run 20+ miles in training and it’s not a huge deal, but I ran 20 miles and that’s a HUGE accomplishment for me.
Even though I’ve been training for this race for what feels like eons, it hasn’t truly felt like I’ve been marathon training. For me, that 20 miler is like the infamous “you’re almost there” in marathon training. It’s the mile marker so many people aim for and it’s the distance that seems to assure most people if you can run it, you can run the marathon. Now that I’ve “been there, done that” it feels a little more real. I’m still thinking this whole experience is surreal, but I’m sure as the weeks progress and race day comes closer it’ll change. Is this my life? Am I really doing this? Yep, I definitely am.
Saturday was thankfully the crappiest weather we’ve had in months (heat and humidity aside). I’m so happy it was awful. If you can have a successful long run in the worst weather, I like to think that no matter what happens on race day, you’re prepared for it. I knew it was going to rain during my run, but I did not expect it to downpour for the entire time. It did not matter what I wore, I was going to be soaked to the bone by the time I finished.
I woke up at 5:45am in order to get in 5-6 miles before helping pace the run portion of a PT test for the Army Reserves. I mainly wanted to get these miles in prior to the test because I had a friend to run 10 miles with afterwards and then I could run home to finish out my 20. Mentally this would be much easier for me than having to finish 8 solo. It’s amazing how I can wake up at 5:45am on a Saturday for a run but if you ask me to wake up before 7:30am on a weekday for work, it’s nearly impossible.
I drank a packet of Gen UCAN while doing my typical dynamic stretching and prep for running. I ran in most of the gear I plan to run the marathon in though chafing isn’t a huge issue for me and I can practically wear anything in my wardrobe without worrying. I ran in the Saucony Zealot, which I’ve been trying to transition over to from the Kinvaras. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the Kinvaras but I liked the stiffer sole I felt when running in the Zealot for the purposes of marathon training.
It was considerably cooler for the duration of my run than it has been here in WNY — mid 50s, cloudy, and raining. When I headed out into the rain, I felt like the biggest bad ass. “Yeah, look at me, I’m running at 6:30am in this stuff and I’ll be out here for hours.” I kept my first few miles easy averaging about 10:04, then picked up my next 2.5 miles comfortably. It was half to see if I could average a better pace for the PT test and half because I felt good. I averaged about 9:30 for the remainder of the run before the PT test (total 5.5 miles).
During the PT test, I offered to run 9:30-9:50 because I didn’t want to throw off how I felt for the rest of my run. Unfortunately we were stuck waiting about 20 minutes before the cadets arrived so my body definitely cooled down. I found my groove pretty easily when the test started. In the end, 10 people needed to retest but many more passed and beat their previous times. Our friend we helped was relieved with the results, it seemed to be one of their most successful tests for the run portion so I’m happy we made a difference!
After this, Manz and I started our 10 mile out and back. To be honest, I wasn’t paying attention to my fueling because we were so engrossed in conversation but whatever I did worked well. When we stopped to stretch our hips (go figure we both needed that!) I would take some water and Nuun and eat 2 chews. We probably stopped to stretch every 2-3 miles which works well for Chicago’s aid stations. I had an awful side stitch at 11th mile overall and had to walk for a couple minutes just to make it subside a tiny bit — I was running with terrible form, hunched over and it was ugly. The cramp stayed for a good 2 miles after that brief walk, but it diminished enough to move on and forget about it.
Most of our miles were in the 10:05-10:10 pace with one at 9:57 towards the end. It was truly a great run in my eyes; I felt strong basically the entire time. I never felt like I was hitting a wall, my energy remained sustained. We even climbed two overpasses on our way out and returned over them on the way back. The 150 feet in climbing for each overpasss is a decent amount when you’re used to running in the city, let me tell you! I also had to run on an overpass in my first 5 miles and then my last 2-3 on the way back to my apartment. Considering 95% of my runs are flat, keeping pace with these hills is quite the accomplishment for me.
Unfortunately, there’s only so much I can do about my hip between now and Chicago. When it feels like it’s stabbing you in the ass, you just stop and stretch for :30 and pick right back up where you left off. I plan to find my biofreeze again for the next long run and see how that works. I’m not a runner who takes any pain medicine (I’m terrified of masking something more serious.), but my glutes fatigue after about two hours and the only thing that’s going to help the nagging ache is going to be some Biofreeze or Advil. It’s just something that comes along with the territory of improving my form and changing the muscles my body relies on. It’s something I’m aware of and can attempt to prevent the best I can.
This run left me feeling more than ready for Chicago and excited to see what my final 20 miler feels like when I run with Laura in two weeks. Running to my house and feeling like I could easily run another 6 miles is the biggest confidence booster. When I ran 18 miles a few weeks ago, it felt good, but I was done when that 18th mile clocked off. Not this time! And as per usual, as soon as I finished my run my hip soreness was back in check and no longer stabbing me. The only “problem” I’ve come away with is a bit of a strain in one of the ligaments of my foot (self diagnosed) and some serious boob chafing. I’m positive my foot issue isn’t a stress reaction, but I’m still being a little more cautious regarding it. As far as the boobs, I learned that what I wore simply isn’t a bra I am particularly found of racing in and that’s okay.
A month ago, a sub 4 hour finish felt far off. I questioned if I should re-evaluate what I really wanted. Today, it feels much more reasonable. My hip is going to be the thing to worry most about and I’m prepared to lose 3-4 minutes to stretching, but I’m hoping some pain reliever paired with adrenaline might keep me going longer than in training runs. Can I buy compression underwear somewhere? No, that’s a legitimate question, I need to know. Please tell me if you’ve found it.
We’re ticking off a couple more tough weeks, but there’s only 24 days until the marathon and I’m just getting more anxious to absolutely kick its ass. That whole “ass kicking” might be the Not Your Father’s Root Beer talking (I can’t be the only person that prefers to blog with a beer?) or that might be the email I received telling me my corral and start time. But seriously, I’m ready.