Friday, September 10, 2010

The First Time

They say you will never forget the first time, well last night I did my first ever 20 mile run. I'm not sure there was anything especially memorable about it, but it will always be the first one I suppose.

Physically this has been a really rough week for me, I have felt sluggish and stiff since we got back from Atlanta on Monday, I don't know if it was just from a non-stop 3 day weekend or if it was running the monstrous hills last Sunday, but I have pretty much sucked it up ever since. I started Thursday morning with a 2 mile walk while John ran, I thought I would run, but my calves were so tight I didn't even bother.

My only options for my long run this weekend were Thursday night or Friday morning. In order to get 20 miles in on Friday morning before work I would have had to start about 3:30am or so. And while I am lucky enough to have a 24 hour gym membership, I didn't want to be stuck doing 2 hours of this run on the treadmill when there would be not a thing on tv to keep me entertained, so I opted to do it Thursday night.

I have had hits and misses with evening long runs, my most recent being a major miss, so I was a little nervous how my body would react, but it held up pretty well considering. I started as soon as I got home from class, and had a plan to hit at least 10 goal pace miles (9:30 or less) and I didn't care how/when/in what order they came, as long as there was at least 10 by the time I finished. I also consider miles in the 9:30-9:40 range to be quality, just not goal pace anymore.

I started my goal pace miles a little earlier than I usually do on purpose, because I had been thinking about how I always start almost 20 seconds slower and don't pick it up until I am thoroughly warmed up. I felt like I was making it easy for myself to hit my goal miles by building them into the middle when I warm but not yet tired, and then doing a "cool-down" so to speak. When marathon day comes, I will likely not be starting out slow for 5-6 miles and then hoping to make up ground and hit times below goal pace, so I figured I might as well get used to running near goal pace from the start, or at least sooner, and more at the end to make sure I could get near it when tired.

20 miles- 3:11:00 (9:33 average pace)
Mile 1-  9:50
Mile 2-  9:48
Mile 3-  9:45
Mile 4-  9:28
Mile 5-  9:23
Mile 6-  9:12
Mile 7-  9:13
Mile 8-  9:28
Mile 9-  9:42
Mile 10-  9:40
Mile 11-  9:22
Mile 12-  9:26
Mile 13-  9:21
Mile 14-  9:45
Mile 15-  9:39
Mile 16-  9:42
Mile 17-  9:31
Mile 18-  9:29
Mile 19-  9:40
Mile 20-  9:35

When I finally pulled up my stats this morning I was actually really surprised. I knew I had hit exactly 10 goal pace miles, with 4 more in the 9:30-9:40 range, but this run was nothing stellar, it just felt average- not slow, or quality, just decent, but I was so surprised to see my average pace so close to goal pace over the entirety of the run.

I am not going to sugar coat it, this run was tough, certainly not the toughest ever by any means, but I definitely felt more worn out than I have for any other long run, and it wasn't even in the last few miles that I was dragging, more so in the middle. I actually got a 2nd wind about mile 16 (maybe it was the gatorade), but after I was finished, and especially this morning, I can feel a major difference in my recovery than other long runs, I feel like it's already moving slower, normally 12 hours later I am fine, maybe a little stiff or sore, but fine, and never hungry. Today my joints are so stiff I would swear I had arthritus, and forgotten to eat yesterday because my stomach will not stop begging for more food.

Mentally I thought I held up well, I zoned out quite a bit and was thinking about all the other things that I have going on and need to get done, I actually only used my ipod for the first 5 miles to get into it, and after that I went solo. I thought a lot about the remainder of my training, and to be honest I think I may have had the training bar set a little too high for my first marathon. This was supposed to be my first 50 mile week, and my body just revolted, depending on how I feel the rest of the weekend I still could hit 50, but I am not going to force it. I feel like the quality of my runs has been slipping as my mileage has increased. When I was at my base mileage, almost every was intense and of high quality. I know I am training for a major distance and at this point being built up to the distance is more important that speed, but both are important and with 3-4 weeks to go, I find myself thinking about making sure I have the right balance, and I'm just not sure what I think that is. I know by now I have the distance built up, but I guess getting more comfortable with doing it faster is going to be the key.

Doing the math, if I replicate this run for the first 20 miles during the race, then I could actually drop to a 10:00 pace for the last 6.2 miles and still finish just under my goal. That leaved me feeling much more confident about my capabilities for this race, knowing that I am pretty darn close to my goal times during training means I have at least been doing something right, I think the biggest question is what will be the right balance to make sure I stay healthy and finish training strong.

Ok enough reflective running babble...This is a football filled weekend I have ahead of me, so I am glad to have my run out of the way. Gator game Saturday and Jags game on Sunday, this will be my first Jags game since I was kid, and the first since I moved to Jacksonville in 2007, so I am really excited! Hope everyone has a great weekend!


  1. congrats on the first 20! i feel so excited for you. and on a thursday?! champ right there! especially since you held up mentally. that TOTALLY bodes well for you and you are going to just smash your race :)

  2. Congrats on XX!!! Your first 20 is all mental darling! From here on out nothing can stop you!!!

  3. You seriously continue to amaze me. You ran 20 miles LAST night?! I got home at 5PM and sat on the couch until 10PM stuffing my face, watching a movie and then watching football! Hahaha.

    You have trained super hard and by no means have trained like a beginner marathoner! You will do really well come race day! I have no doubt about it! Rest up this weekend! Don't worry about getting in any more miles. Feed your body and rest!!

  4. Good job on meeting your goal pace for all 20 miles! That's really amazing.

    Have a fun football filled weekend.

    P.S. You said you only wore your iPod for the first 5 miles.. do you like running without it better?