The thought of doing any strenuous activity for ANY length of time was a foreign, painful prospect to me just a few years ago. So why would anyone want to willingly put their body through the rigors of 3+ hours of trauma and not even be doing it for a race or reward? Good question. It's one we all try to answer every time we ramp up our training for a specific goal.
After getting iced out of my previous 20 miler (I opted for treadmill and couldn't bring myself to hang on for the full 20) I was anxious to get on the road and meet the challenge head on. Work took me out of town for most of last week so staying on track nutritionally and sleepwise was a bit of a challenge, but I managed to keep it all between the lines. Saturday morning I treated as a full on dress rehearsal for the Austin Marathon coming up February 18th. Did everything according to plan, except start time. I needed to crank out the run before heading to a family commitment at 10am. That meant a 5.40am start time.
It seemed like I was running in the dark forever before I saw the sun starting to peek out from below the horizon. The weather was great (almost balmy at 51 degrees.) I paid particular attention to pacing. This is something that led to a long, long 26.2 miles in my first attempt at a marathon. I went out a little brisk and paid dearly for it. While I've been staying close to 9.30 pace during my 15 mile runs, I knew the extra 5 Saturday morning would require better strategy. I started out at 9.40 for the first four miles and tried to slow a bit to alleviate any challenge that may have come my way. At mile 5 I tucked in behind a training group of about 30 people out doing their long run. It was a welcome respite to running solo through the darkness. After a few miles with them I was forced to veer off their route to meet up with Spence.
At 7.15am on the dot Spence met me in mid stride. He was gearing up for 9 miles and provided a great distraction from the minutes that turned to hours. As we neared a time crossroads --2 hours 15 minutes -- that has always been what can best be described as a "wall" for me, I was mindful to keep hydrating and keep taking in some calories. I once thought my 2 hour 15 minute wall was merely a mental taunt my body would give me...only recently have I come around to think, maybe there is more to it than just a mental hurdle. This time around 2:15 came and went and while I did feel a bit of a negative pull on my body, I was overcoming the adversity that had sought deep refuge in my running. I was feeling good.
Spence is training for his first half marathon and has been doing great. We spent the morning talking about family, about work, and about strategy come race day. I will be excited to share in his success. As the final miles ticked away I was struck at how non-eventful this long run had been. I was grateful that I wouldn't have any material to write about in terms of demons coming into my thoughts, my body betraying me, or mother nature scoffing at the idea of me cranking out 20 miles. In the end, it was pretty run-of-the-mill....which made me appreciate...there is a BIG reward for getting in these long runs. There are no aid stations along the way, medals or post-run parties, nor any cheering at the finishing line. And that makes these long 20 mile runs even sweeter. And even a little bit enjoyable.
10.04 avg pace
3,598 calories burned