Running 20 miles does not make one a party animal

So, it’s Tuesday, and I ran 20 miles on Saturday. Why am I just now writing about it? Because I’m just now recovered!

Ok, that’s not really true. I’ve been busy with work and an out-of-town friend visiting also, but I have been on a total runner’s high since that run and I am so stoked about the marathon now. Chris and Kevin requested that I write about the run yesterday, so here it is, just for you guys. (Read Kevin’s version of the run here.)

I’ll start at the beginning. Kevin and I signed up to run the Thunder Road Preview group run. The first weekend was the first half of the course (about 13.1 miles), the second weekend was the second half. I went over to Kevin’s on Friday night and babysat his girls so he could take Jenn out on a date (really, they put them to bed before they left, so my job was really just to make sure the house didn’t burn down.)

I went to bed at 8:30. That. Never. Happens. I tossed and turned a little, got up to pee around 9:30 or so, but then I was pretty much asleep. I might not have talked too much about my sleep issues here, but it is extremely difficult for me to fall asleep, especially when I know I have to get up early in the morning, so this was great. I woke up a few times during the night but was always able to fall back asleep, even after Mia started crying at 3:30 because she couldn’t find her pacifier (Jenn took care of that one, but I heard it).

Got out of bed at 4:45 and immediately went downstairs and ate ½ a Thomas bagel (of the white bread variety) with some Jif peanut butter. The guys at TrySports recommended that as a pre-race breakfast (the white bread doesn’t have a ton of fiber, so it seems unhealthy, but that’s not what one is too worried about before running 26.2 miles.)

I decided not to take a shower because I was cold. I probably should have, but I just didn’t feel like it. Kevin made it downstairs and we were out the door around 5:45. We stopped at Starbucks for some black coffee and drank it on the way to the race course.

I was feeling really good, well rested, but not super energetic. Probably because I was wearing Kevin’s warm fleece and drinking nice hot coffee, so the thought of booking out 20 miles just seemed, well … not as fun as drinking hot coffee in a warm fleece.

But we got there, got our turn-by-turn directions, hit up the port-a-potties a block away (they had moved the one in the parking lot across the street from the week before; we figured they were hiding it from the hoards of runners out to preview the course – but we found it!), and then took off on the run.

Kevin and I stuck together for the first couple of miles. He kept commenting that he was going to have to keep up with me, but I knew better – I was in this for the long haul, so slow and steady was my game. And Kevin is a faster runner than me, so even though he’s been out with shin splints, I figured he’d do just fine. And he did – after about 3 miles or so, he was far enough ahead of me that I could barely see him.

I checked my pace, worried I was going too slow, and say I was at a 9:46 pace, a little faster than I normally run the long runs. So I didn’t push it anymore and let the fast people do their thing. Seems like  a lot of the people previewing the course were more hard-core runners.

Kept it nice and steady until about mile 10, when I felt like I needed a bathroom break. I was going to try to hold it till I got to the Crowne Plaza, about 3 more miles, but I knew there was a big hill in between so I figured it’d be good to get it over with before then. I stopped at a gas station, but I ended up having to wait for quite a long time in line. I watched my average pace on my watch go from 10:15 to 10:50, just while I was standing in line. After losing that much time over 10 miles, I was pretty bummed. But it’s all part of the process, I suppose.

So, several minutes later I was finally back on the course (for the record, I only lost 4 seconds per mile while I was actually in the bathroom – I was quick!). The huge hill didn’t seem as huge as it had during my 18-mile run. Amazing what practicing on the course has done for my confidence.

Around mile 13, as we were nearing the “finish line”, I pushed the walk button at 2nd Street to make the final turn. I looked to the left, and started running to the center median where I would then look to the right to see if I could continue. Right as I started doing this, two guys behind me asked me if we were supposed to turn – they said they’d been following me for directions. “Yep, this way,” I said, then started to continue to cross – completely forgetting I hadn’t looked right! Horn beeped and one of the guys yelled at me to watch out. I was lucky and uninjured, but I couldn’t believe how careless that was! I thought about it later and realized that I never run in group runs except for races, when the roads are blocked off, so it took me some getting used to, to be following a group and watching for traffic at the same time.

At any rate, we made it to the end of the course with no more problems, and I still had 7 more miles to run. One of the guys that had been following me, Scott, had 5 more miles to run, so we agreed to run them together. “I’ll keep you from getting hit by a car,” he joked.

So we started the course over, at the start line, and ran a few miles on the beginning of the course. I’ve done this part several times now. We veered off and circled back around to Providence after about 3 miles, since Scott only had 2 left and his car was at the Dowd YMCA (as was Kevin’s.) I figured I’d run back to the Y with him, then run the last 2 miles around that area before meeting back up with Kevin. And that’s what I did!

The great thing was, after all that, I felt like I could have kept going. 20 miles was doable. And I wasn’t dying at the end! I did take 1 bathroom break (mile 10), a few running in place breaks while waiting for traffic, one break to stop and pull my feet out of my shoes to rub them while Scott got some water (mile 13), and 2 walk breaks while running with Scott (one at the top of a huge hill; I was running a little faster than usual to keep up with him and I got winded; the other was when he asked for one.) I finished in 3 hours 34 minutes.

Given that the bathroom break took way longer than it should have, and given that two of the breaks were not really breaks I felt I needed, and given that the running in place did slow my overall time, I am very happy with that. If I can pull off that time at the marathon, plus the remaining 6.2 miles in an hour (which I have no idea if that’s possible after running 20 miles!) then I could be looking at a 4:30-4:40 race time. I would be super happy with that.

I know it’s not about time, though. Not this race. This race is about finishing. And I cannot wait to run it.

P.S. As rested as I was the night before, I still took a nap after the run. And then I almost fell asleep at a friend’s house that night while everyone else was having fun in the hot tub. It definitely zapped my energy!