Second 20 Mile Run
I'm much happier with my second attempt, and so are my feet!
Three weeks ago I went for my first ever 20 mile run and my feet started hurting so badly around mile 16 that those final 4 miles turned into what felt like a slow and torturous death-march! My feet cried out in agony just walking and I had to sit on a bus bench for a few minutes just to take the pressure off of them for a bit. At one point I got a call from my 16-year-old son who was ‘just checking in’. He offered to come out and give me a ride home, but my pride wasn’t having ANY of that. “Thank you for the offer, but you know that’s not gonna happen.” He’s a great kid who is also training to run the Marathon! I finished the 20 mile goal I had set for myself, but it left a lot of self-doubt about completing the full 26.2! If I could barely claw my way to 20, how was I going to tack on another full 10k?
That was 3 weeks ago. . .and in those 3 weeks I’ve had time to recover and reflect on what happened. I had to take a serious look back at where I had started and how much I had accomplished. From having a hard time finishing a 5k without walking a good part of it to doing my first 13.1 mile Half-Marathon. Now, the Half-Marathon has become my ‘normal’. What I mean by that is if any of my running-buddies said that they knew of a Half-Marathon that they wanted to run and it was that weekend, I wouldn’t be afraid to simply sign up and go. I know what 13.1 miles feels like and I’m comfortable with it. That’s not to say that it isn’t challenging anymore, but the challenge is in trying to go faster. . .not in trying to finish. Thinking back to my first Half-Marathon reminded me just how hard it was. I started getting cramps in my calves and quads. My toes even tried to curl under my feet at mile 13! It was so much pain just to get to the finish line that if I hadn’t already signed up for 2 more that year, I don’t know if I would have done it again. But I ran those other 2 Half-Marathons and I got better. I researched my cramps and figured out how to train smarter, and now I rarely get cramps. . .and I know what to do about them if I do!
Today I had my second 20 mile training run. Knowing how badly it hurt last time, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried about going thru it again. But equating my last attempt at that distance to my first Half-Marathon helped to put it into perspective. My feet probably hurt like that because they had to be beaten down in order to heal up stronger. My mind had to feel that anguish in order to build a more calloused-perspective. I shouldn’t expect to just GAIN the ability to run further distances. Any new ability will come with certain birth-pains, without which we wouldn’t fully appreciate out achievements.
Today’s 20 mile run was much more encouraging. I was not only able to finish the entire run without stabbing pains in my feet, but they didn’t begin to ache until mile 18. My overall pace was much better and I’m starting to toy with the idea of shooting for a finish time of under 5 hours. Of course, I’ll need to be able to get an overall mile pace of 11:24, but today’s pace wasn’t far off. I’m not to the point yet where 26.2 feels within grasp, but I’m definitely starting to see that I’ll get there. I know that the training runs I have ahead of me will be hard, but as I extend my distance, I expect that 20 miles will feel better and better, and one day I’ll look back and realize that 26.2 has become my new ‘normal’.
P.S. I just wanted to add a quick note to say that I KNOW I’m behind in my Race Reviews! I’m currently working on getting the Spartanburg S.C. Beast review up (from November 17th!). I HOPE to get that live in the next few days, but with the Holidays it might be tough! After that goes live, I’ll be working on the Castaic, CA. Sprint review and should have that live before the end of the year!
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