I know that this post is a little self-congratulatory, but I had so many thoughts about my 20 mile run this past weekend that I just wanted to get them down on (Internet) paper.
As I said in my last training post, I was nervous about this run from the moment I downloaded my training plan, but my nerves peaked this past week. The forecast for Saturday was not looking good all week. They had been predicting rain and a high of 45 degrees, and they were not wrong. I was also just feeling run down and so sore with 20 miles already under my feet for the week. Everything just kind of dully ached.
My original plan was to try and simulate the race day by waking up at 5 and heading out at 7, but the bad weather made me reconsider, so I woke up at 7. The rain was coming down hard. I made some breakfast and drank my coffee while I waited for the sun to rise and my family to wake up.
Once Chris was up, he suggested I try and wait out the rain, but I knew it wasn’t stopping. He suggested I run Sunday, which I guess I could have, but I didn’t want to suffer through another anxious day. Plus, I had already moved my 18 miler due to rain, and I wanted to see what running for that long in the rain was like in case of bad weather on the day of the marathon.
I had major butterflies in my stomach as I headed out the door around 9. I was bored of all my old routes, so I plotted a new course. Covering new ground definitely made the run more interesting and helped the miles pass. The first mile was tough. I was still warm and dry so the rain felt like little icicles dripping down my back. Not fun. I did adjust (meaning I was soaked and the rain stopped bothering me as much) by the second or third mile, which was also when I turned off the main road onto the trails.
Probably because of the rain and the cold, I was the only one on the trails, which was wonderful. It was a little drier under the tree cover, so I got a brief reprieve from the rain. The leaves had all turned their fall colors, so it was just breathtakingly beautiful. I wanted to take a picture, but my phone was stashed in the pouch of my water bottle inside a sandwich bag to protect it from the rain.
Navigating a new route was a little challenging especially with minimal use of my phone, but I think being forced to pay attention to where I was going helped keep my mind off the run.
Around mile 8, i rejoined the main roads to find the weather had gotten worse. The rain was coming down sideways thanks to all the wind, and after avoiding puddles for almost two hours, I finally landed in a big one which totally soaked my feet. It was at this point that I began to question if maybe I should have waited until Sunday. I got a few honks from cars passing by that I chalked up to encouragement. Why do people honk? I also had a girl passing by on the sidewalk motion for me to take my headphones out. When I did, she asked me if I was ok. I guess she thought I was running from something?
I knew if I could just get to my home turf, I’d be ok, so when I hit my regular route around mile 11, I got a big boost of energy. I was home, I was more than halfway there, I was doing this!
At mile 16, I switched from podcasts to music. Between my fingers which were swollen and numb from the cold and the plastic baggie, it took me like a solid minute. It was like my hands just stopped working. I hadn’t noticed until then, and it made me start laughing out loud. Seriously, running for hours does something to your mind. The absurdity of the situation just hit me. Here I was running in big circles in the cold rain for hours and now my hands weren’t working. I don’t know why I found that so hilarious, but I’m glad I did because a laugh (even at myself) was just what I needed.
I realized that I was at 16 miles which was a distance I didn’t even think I could do a few months ago. It’s also when I started taking walk breaks during my 18 miler, and I didn’t feel like stopping this time at all! I felt great. Well it felt like someone was pulling my legs apart like a wishbone, but overall, I felt good. I felt strong and excited for the marathon and proud of myself for choosing to tough it out in the rain. My music was pumping me up, and I was heading into the park where I’ve done all my runs. I started seeing people again, and I just had a huge smile on my face. I kept smiling all the way through the end.
In the park, I really kicked it up. I had started with 11:30 miles and gradually sped up, but the last 4 miles were all under 10 minutes. I saw a lady running with an open umbrella over her head and that got my laughing all over again. I just felt great and so happy. Maybe I was delirious? I don’t really care. My watch beeped 20 miles like 30 feet from my house which was just perfect timing.
I finished and while I was glad to be home, I honestly felt like I could have done more. Maybe not 6.2 but I didn’t feel totally spent. I was as tired and sore this week as I’ve ever been, and 20 miles felt totally manageable. I finally felt ready for this marathon. Now, I know the old saying: there are two halves to a marathon; the first 20 miles and the last 6.2. So, I understand that anything could happen and that last leg is definitely going to kick my ass, but I feel ready.
I kept trying to explain to Chris why this run felt so much better than my 18 miles. The weather was much cooler. I was better fueled, more mentally prepared. That’s all true, but also I’ve done the training. And it’s worked. I’m glad to have found this mindset going into taper. The work is done. I’m ready to see what some fresh legs can do on November 23.