20 Miles – The Hard Way

Today I was NOT looking forward to running 20 miles because running 20 miles is hard and it hurts and I’m not built for that sort of thing and I just didn’t want to do it but it was in THE PLAN so do it I did. I wanted to make this 20 miles a mirror of my marathon to see how I would do. Would I make it? Would it hurt? Would I have to test my will? Would the Cytomax make me puke? Would I want to cut my head off and curse the day I ever decided to train for a marathon? Yes, yes, yes, no and yes.

I decided, in my infinite wisdom that the best thing to do would be to run around for a couple of miles and then tackle a huge hill because that’s what happens on the SF course. Here are the elevation maps of my run today(on top) and of the marathon course (on bottom)

Note – The huge hill is that first dramatic bump at about 7 miles – the long climb is pretty gradual and it is only the camel humps that really seem like hills.

I think the scale on those 2 images is comparable and I think it is fair to say that I worked maybe a little harder on this run than I will have to work on the marathon and that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing because my total time (including a couple of fairly luxurious bathroom breaks complete with running water and paper towels) was 4:06.35 and there is no way I could have covered the last 5.2 miles (turns out I ran 21.06) in less that 54 minutes. I was too pooped and my feet were throbbing and it was hot. I did not do the run 5 miles, walk 2 minutes thing and I wish I had. I think that’s a really good methodology and when I did that last time my average pace was 20 second/mile faster.

At the end of the run I was totally discouraged and hating myself for ever signing up for this thing. My feet were killing me and I felt worse than poop on toast. I could barely choke down a string cheese when I got back and I was deeply disappointed in my time. I seriously considered just giving it up and not running the marathon – why bother? Fortunately, a shower and a little rest later I felt okay and decided that if I don’t make a sub 5 hour marathon it isn’t the end of the world. If don’t PR you may never hear from me again but that gives me another 16 minutes to work with so let’s all keep our fingers crossed, shall we?

Parrot predictor calls for 4:55, McMillan calls for 5:11.

Lessons learned –

1). No need to kill yourself

2). Having water bottles along the trail is good (I hid them from view so they were there when I needed them)

3). Cytomax sports drink is manageable as long as the quantity is low

4). Cytomax gel rocks

5). The hotter it gets, the harder it is to run

6). The run/walk thing has some advantages

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19 Responses to 20 Miles – The Hard Way

  1. WADDLER26.2 says:

    You did it!!! Great job. I used the 4:1 run- walk and had my PR. I just realized you will be doing SF. I am flying out for the half. Just remember you have the last one done-your training is in the bank. The marathon is a celebration of all the hard work. And you will make it to the start uninjured.

  2. jeanne says:

    I just calculated your time backwards, using yesterday’s pace and 26.2, and got 5:06. You are so close! Maybe you’ll fly on some of those downhills and make up 6 minutes. But i’m with the waddler over there…you made it this far with NO injuries! Hurrah! I haven’t been able to go three weeks with no injuries!Say more about this walk/run strategy. I didn’t realize you used that in your last marathon. Anyway, good job, now it’s taper time!

  3. Stillwater Heron says:

    Well done!!!!Anyway you say it, “YOU” did it!!!20 miles is awesome and you didn’t hurt anything, super!Maybe I should try the run walk thing…

  4. Bob says:

    Wow, I am seriously impressed, I give you credit for tackling SF, I picked Chicago because it’s flat. Throw up that course elevation next to yours, you will laugh.

  5. Lisa says:

    Well, you are an inspiration to me in training for my first marathon this October (Chicago). Way to get the 20 miles in the books. 🙂

  6. WADDLER26.2 says:

    I used the run-walk in Chicago for the marathon twice. Just remember to start it in mile 1 not when you get tired. You can always drop the walk part at the end if you feel. good. Reference: Jeff Galloway(www.runinjuryfree.com) By the way I’m also from Ohio(just north of Dayton)

  7. Juls says:

    Now is not the time to worry about the finish time. Race day condition will probably be different (better or worse) and your mind and body will do the same. Just congratulate yourself for doing it. YOU ran *20 miles* and there are not many who can say that. Now be nice to your body.

  8. Running Rabbit says:

    Come on now! You will be fantastic! You have trained hard!

  9. Steve says:

    Thank so much for your kind words about my kittie..PS. Did you run the actual SF marathon course on your 20 miler?My SF 20 miler is scheduled for early sept .I’m doing the Portland Marathon ( don’t have the lungs for the full SF) A bunch of my racewalking friends and I will be doing will be doing the SF marathon again. Some are doing the 13, some the full 26.

  10. Running by.... says:

    The hard part is over in my opinion. You did the more miles this week than what you’ll do for your marathon week, right? Rested, smaller hills, Race day, and cooler weather, all give you a good chance of getting under 5 hours, me thinks. Enjoy your taper weeks.

  11. Firefly's Running says:

    Awesome job on the 20 miler. You can do it! Your big day is getting closer – it’s now all downhill until then.

  12. Firefly's Running says:

    Awesome job on the 20 miler. You can do it! Your big day is getting closer – it’s now all downhill until then.

  13. Yurtle says:

    Way to go! I used the run/walk for my first marathon (Big Sur) this spring and had a super comfortable 5:12 finish- I know I can up the pace next time! (my last mile was an 8:40, so there was gas left in the tank!)I got to talk to Jeff Galloway, and he recommended being real conservative (a 4/1 or even a 3/1 ration)and finishing strong. I am so glad I listened to him and am looking forward to my next marathon. Getting the miles in and building the endurance is the most crucial thing.

  14. Veeg says:

    I don’t think there’s an EASY way to do a 20-miler. Wow, wow, wow. I’ve got this to look forward to in my future. I am not sure I’m mentally tough enough! 😉

  15. Susan says:

    My fingers are crossed because I hate poop on toast.

  16. Bolder says:

    i’ve never run 20 miles, and certainly not on a training run.well.done.

  17. Dori says:

    They don’t give any medals for running fast in practice runs. You’ve been working so hard–I bet you get your PR! Rest up.

  18. Fe-lady says:

    Wow…20 miles is a LOOONNGGG way and you did it! You planned well for it also I see by stashing bottles and eating when you needed to. I haven’t seen the cytomax gel yet…will have to try it!Keep up the good work!

  19. Vickie says:

    Hey, I’m new to your blog (we are about the same age). I know just how hard it is to train for a marathon in the summer, and hated all the long runs too, but eventually the day will be here and over and you will be glad you did it. Like you said, you may never do another, but those decisions can be made later. The walk/run method really does work, much as people pooh pooh it as not really “running.” (The only trouble with it sometimes though is the walk really feels too good to start running!) Good training. Hope to read more.

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