Posted by: runawaynotes | October 28, 2012

Run 20 miles, get 1 mile free

Apparently, my running club likes to make sure we all get our money’s worth when we sign up for training. So, the “powers-that-be” like to throw in a free mile here and there and then look at you with that “You ARE welcome!!!” grin on their face as you realize that your Garmin has just chimed 20 mile mark and your car is nowhere in sight.

In my case, it wasn’t actually my car that I was anxious to get to; it was the bathroom. About 3 miles into the run my tummy said “You really shouldn’t have had that cheese (and chocolate) fondu the night before. Oh, and those two martinis weren’t your best decision either.” Let’s just say it’s not the best feeling in the world, especially once you realize that you are in the middle of some residential area with no gas station or convenience store in sight. Lesson learned – only light/low fat/low fiber/no alcohol diet for me before my long distance runs from now on.

Aside from my unfortunate tummy condition, this was a good run. We got really lucky with the weather – the temperature was in the 40’s and the wind was low. It was slightly chillier than some people had anticipated, and quite a few of my fellow runners were struggling to keep their fingers from being frozen. Thankfully, a friend of mine gave me a pair of handwarmers, so my mitts were nice and toasty. I did a good job of layering, so I ended up feeling pretty comfortable throughout the entire run (which lasted 4.5 hours). I really hope that we’ll get lucky and have similar weather conditions on race day, since you really can’t ask for much better running weather.

I finally got around to putting together a new playlist for my iPod, so I could just hit ‘play’ and enjoy the music instead of hitting ‘skip’ every few seconds because I’ve played every other song to death and couldn’t stand it anymore. It’s amazing how much difference a good soundtrack can make. A little P.O.D., a little Ludacris, a little Three Days Grace, a little Miranda Lambert (I know, I have a weird taste in music), and time just flies by. In fact, the first 8 miles were relatively painless (aside from the tummy thing). However, after a few more miles, the reality started sinking in. I’ve already been running for two hours, and I still had at least that much more left to go. It’s a pretty depressing thought if you let yourself dwell on it. As enjoyable as running can be, it doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy all over to know that you have to keep moving for the next few hours after you’ve already been moving for hours. That’s when “The Show Must Go On” by Queen kicked in. Yes, I am all about drama, so I could totally relate: “I’ll top the bill, I’ll overkill, I have to find the will to carry on!!!!” Yes, Freddie! You are right, I have to keep going! So, on I went.

Over the past couple of long runs, I have learned a couple of new things about my body. I learned that my “bad” knee is much stronger than I though it was. Even though I still wear a brace, it hasn’t given me any trouble even with all the miles and the hills. I also learned that after a certain number of miles my left hip begins to grind, and if I keep going, the grinding will spread to my entire lower back area. I learned that if I try to relieve some of that pressure on my lower back by tightening up my core, my abs will get sore and will start to cramp up. I learned that even though I can prevent my toes from blistering by slathering on Vaseline and Bodyglide, after awhile my feet will still start hurting because it feels like the bones in my arches are spreading apart. Well, yesterday I learned what it feels like when all of these things happen at the same time, and what it feels like to reach the point where it hurts more to stop than to keep moving.

The last two miles for me were all about just putting one foot in front of the other. It’s been about 4 hours and twenty minutes since I started running. My entire lower body hurt. But as I kept moving forward, I had this silly grin plastered on my face. Because I have realized something. I realized that even if I didn’t pick up my pace at all and kept crawling forward with the same speed, I could still finish a full marathon in another hour or so. And I realized that I had enough stubbornness and determination to do it. For the past few weeks, every time I finished another long run, I kept thinking to myself: “There’s no way I can do another 9/7/6 miles”. Well, yesterday was the first time I thought to myself: “Of course I could do 5 more miles! I’m sooooo close!”

That silly grin stayed on my face as I drove home, climbed into my ice bath, and then pulled my sweats on and curled under a blanket for a nice nap. Despite all the pain and frustration of the day, something wonderful has happened. I learned that I can actually push myself as far as I need to. I finally felt confident that I can do it. I can run a marathon. Now I just have to wait 42 more days to prove it to everyone else.



  1. Yes, you can do it, and you will! That’s what the 20 miler is all about, giving yourself the confidence to realize you will be able to finish the marathon. Such a great moment! And reaching the point “where it hurts more to stop than to keep moving”–and then to actually keep moving, is huge. Congrats! (And reading that you ate fondue the night before your 20 miler is definitely one for the books!)

    • What can I say – I live dangerously 🙂 Seriously though – never again. Very few things in life are more dreadful than wondering if you can make it to the next bathroom (which is 4.5 miles away).

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