20 miles is only 20 miles when you’re with friends

Saturday Morning: Misty. Chilly. A miracle.

After much bargaining and effort I managed to switch shifts with one of my awesome co-workers. I seriously owe her a cake. I really wanted to run my first 20-miler with my training buddies. For some reason this stuck as really important to me. I didn’t think I could make it 20 miles on my own. Mental blockage, fear, embarrassment. Call it what you like, I just didn’t think I would be able to do it. Well, the miracle occurred on Friday when I got to work and found out that the trade could be made. The baby shower she had to go to was cancelled. Just like that my weekend opened up into magic. I woke up on Saturday morning pumped. I was going to do my first 20 miler ever in the company of my three favorite people to run with. Spring season I got sidelined with a knee injury before I got the chance to hit peak mileage (as I have whined about often). I forfeited my place in the Buffalo Marathon for a place in the half instead. Good for my knee but horrible for my running confidence. My peak milage while training for Buffalo was 17.15 miles. I never made it to the 18 and 20 milers that are the “bread and butter” of marathon training.

So there I was. Pumped up on a Saturday morning. Chocolate peanut butter sandwich in my tummy and water in my amphipod belt. New playlist at the ready. New Brooks Glycerins on my feet. They worked so well during my Wednesday test run that I felt confident enough to wear them a long run. THE Long Run. Out we went into the misty morning. We warmed up at an easy 12mm pace for the first two miles. Picked up water at the first stop nice and warm. We continued on, chatting and enjoying the different route. The North routes were a nice change from the usual South ones. Lots of jokes about bacon, cricket eating, and what music we were listening to. Singing, Dancing, and tra-lalaing. It was fun. We really pushed the pace in the first bit. We were holding 11mm instead of the standard long run 12mm. But none of us were REALLY complaining (just a little!) so we just carried on. The rest of the group caught up with us at the second water stop and we had a tea party. Worst part about training runs is the urge to stop and chat it up (tea party style) at the water stops. We carried on back up the road still joking and laughing. Our spirits remained high and our paces steady until we hit about mile 10. The sun showed up and starting beating us down. We all wished we could duplicate those first 10 miles for the last half.

Halfway there (10 miles) and we all started to tank. We stopped for a bathroom break and then walked our way out of Delaware Park, sunshine beating on us. It was getting hotter and we were getting tired. Dragging our butts up to Elmwood and across the bridge we made it to the next waterstop. I took a sip and kept walking. I didn’t want to stop moving or I worried about stopping for good. Walking really revives me while I am running. Nothing a good walk break can’t fix (usually). Eventually we all caught up together and Mike and I ran into Forest Lawn together. In Forest Lawn it was a one man race. We all ended up separating. Mike was having some cramping in his calf and Deb was with Bryan feeling speedy. I was in the middle alternating between feeling strong and holding on for dear life. I lost sight of Mike and eventually Deb and Bry too. I just turned up my headphones and ran like I felt. I started singing loudly to the trees and gravestones. I’m pretty sure the passing cars could hear me but I didn’t care. I even stopped at a spigot for a “shower”. Best part of Forest Lawn cemetery is those spigots. Very refreshing. Slow and steady I took the hills and arrived back at the gate waterstop feeling fine again. We decided we didn’t want to leave the shade of the cemetery and went around another loop. More hills, but more shade, which is what we really needed. We went the opposite direction to pass Mike and let him know the plan. Deb and I cruised our way around another loop talking girl talk since the guys were on their own paths. Gotta love our girl talk time.

When we made it back to the entrance we only had 2.5 miles left. I felt great. Wobbly on my legs, but still strong. My butt was the only thing on fire. I had done heavy strength training on Friday thinking I wasn’t going to be able to run on Saturday. It lead to sore glutes for sure. Deb and I lead out to tackle the last 2.5 cutting back by the art gallery and across what is affectionately known as the twirly bridge. Coming in I felt strong. I felt fast. I cranked to a 10 minute mile and held it for the last mile. I didn’t think I had it in me but I came to the ending with a pace of 8:35/mile showing on my watch. A finishing kick after 20miles? You bet. I finally felt confident that I can actually accomplish this marathon thing. Better than that, I felt GOOD. I had a runners high like no tomorrow and my legs were sore but not HURT. I am so sick of being injured I was so happy to just have sore legs. My knees were holding, my shin splints were no where in sight, my ankles weren’t wobbling, and my feet weren’t blistered or in pain. Just tired. And happy. Deb turned back to pick up the boys and managed to miss them. Eventually we all made it back to the store. And then to Tim Horton’s for our post-run coffee.

And I had TWO Apple Cider Donuts with my chocolate milk. And there was no guilt. 🙂 I earned them.
(Those apple cider donuts will be the death of me someday…)

The Garmin info of the run: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/113288337

The party on Saturday night wasn’t bad either 😉 Hope everyone else had a great weekend! Happy training!

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