Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday Long Run: So You're Telling Me There's a Chance...

If you read this blog regularly, you know I'm having a crisis of confidence regarding the upcoming Philadelphia Marathon because I haven't done as good a job getting my base miles in as I should have.

If you don't read this blog regularly,
I'm having a crisis of confidence regarding the upcoming Philadelphia Marathon because I haven't done as good a job getting my base miles in as I should have.

I'd been debating what do with my long run today. Taper? Or try to get one more 20-miler in? I asked for and got lots of advice here, on dailymile, and on the Runner's World Philadelphia Marathon forum, and opinions ranged from "do it -- there's plenty of time to rest" to "No, at this point you're not going to gain any fitness and you run the risk of injury by not being rested on race day." Thanks again to everyone who gave me advice.

I decided to try for 20 miles, but set up my route as an 8-mile out and back so that I could easily stop at 16 if I didn't feel like going on. I wanted 20, but I know at this late stage it wasn't worth killing myself for. The second I stepped on the trail, though, I had the feeling that this could be a great run. I felt light, I felt fast, I felt strong, I felt like a Kenyan, I felt like a marathoner again...I felt so distracted by how great I felt that I guess I forgot to hit "start" on my Garmin for (I'm guessing) about 3/4 of a mile. That's ok, I know where the 8-mile mark is, it just meant my time would be an estimate.

I felt great all the way up, and if I'd had my four-bottle hydration belt, I would have gone all the way to York and back. Of course, if I'd had my four-bottle hydration belt it would have annoyed the daylights out of me. I started to tire around mile 13, but I had been eating sports beans every two or three miles throughout the run and I think that really helped.

I got back to Hanover Junction with my GPS reading 15.83, which is weird since I'm certain I ran more than .2 miles before starting it. I'm a bad distance estimator but not THAT bad, and I know that at least two songs had played before I noticed it wasn't running. I refilled my bottles, stretched my calves and quads out, and headed south. My new plan was to run a mile down and a mile back, so I could stop at 18 if I needed to. I was tired, but still felt good, and so I kept on going for two miles, and circled back and ran a little past Hanover Junction till my Garmin actually read "20.00."

(I ran 20 and lived to tell the tale and look like a dork.)

It was definitely my best long training run ever. I ran the whole 20 miles without walk breaks, though I did make three quick stops: a restroom break at about mile 10, the refilling break at 16, and a quick stop to photograph some cute goats at about mile 18.5. It took me 3:29:39, two minutes faster than last time, which means I probably was going faster last time and burned myself out, forcing me to walk.

I had no leg cramps during the run and my post-run stretching, which was very surprising and very welcome. I don't think I could have run 26.2 today without some walking breaks, but I feel like this puts me in line to at least equal my performance at Shamrock. Given the bad base miles situation I've gotten myself in, I'll gladly take that at this point.

(This friendly goat came over to say "hi", or probably "Hey old man, let me out of my cage.")

Overall, I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful morning for this run, and I couldn't have hoped to feel any better during it. I may regret this 20-miler on 11/20, but right now I feel my confidence needed the boost more than my legs needed the third week of tapering.

(While I was stretching at Hanover Junction after the run,
the sky was the deepest blue I've ever seen.
My crappy cell phone camera doesn't do justice how beautiful it was.)


  1. there's nothing better than a great long run when your confidence is wavering!!! wooohooo!! now you can go into the marathon feeling great! as long as the mental is there, you can get through the physical!

  2. Thank you! That's what I'm hoping. I know this might actually cost me a little on race day, but I'll be glad to do a little more walking during miles 20-26 if it means I'm not spending the next two weeks in mortal terror. :-)

  3. Dude, you did things right. you'll get it done, don't worry. That heart will take you a long way . . .trust me.

  4. Bad ass! Two 20 mile runs! Who cares what your time in Philly is! That's an accomplishment in itself! (says the girl who WILL not run 20 before Philly- see my recent post!!!)

  5. 20 miles is HUGE!!!!!!!!!!! I would take a picture of the Garmin stating the 20....and frame it. lol You rocked it. :)