The Time Where I Ran 20 Miles and Did Not Die

Ever since I began training for the Kalamazoo Marathon, the date April 7th stuck out to me in all of its blinding glory. On the seventh day of April, I would attempt a 20 mile training run. Back in December, when running anything over a half marathon frightened me, this run seemed unreachable, haunting even.

Of course, you don’t jump into running 20 miles. No. That would be frightening and haunting. Instead you work yourself up to it gradually. That is what I did. 14 miles, 15, 16, ect. Week by week, tacking on a little more. When I hit sixteen miles, I began to gain confidence and realization that the marathon was within my reach.

Which brings me to Saturday. I woke up so ready to tackle my longest training run to date. I was borderline ecstatic to get outside and run! There was just this overwhelming feeling of feeling able and confident that I could do it.

I met up with my wonderful team, The Transformers, and we set out around 8 am. Half of my group was planning on 18 miles and a few of us were going 20. The plan was to run 9 miles out with them, turn around, run 9 back as a group, and then the three 20 mile runners would add-on two miles at the end. Got all that?! Great plan, lots of energy, and we were off!

The weather was cool to start, in the high 30’s, but warmed up quite a bit over the hours that we were out there. I dressed in layers and by the end was rocking a tank top. Gotta love Michigan.

We decided to try the Galloway Method again since it worked so well for us on our 18 mile training run. 9 minute run, 1 minute recovery for 20 miles. The first 6 miles flew by. We all had lots to catch up on and so we chatted the miles way.

We ran the actual marathon course which was both good and ugly. Good because we get an idea of what we are up against on race day. Ugly because we are up against some crazy hills. It actually was not that bad, but we hit the hills on miles 6.5 and 8. On race day we will be hitting them on mile 20.5 and 22. We might not think they are ‘not so bad’ then.

We definitely took our time and had lots of fun on this run. I never felt like I was pushing myself too hard and we kept a nice and easy pace. Before we knew it we were at the 9 mile turn around point.

After the turn around it we cruised along for a bit due to the fact that we were now going down the hills that we had just worked so hard to come up. I did not set my GPS on this run, and decided to go by feel, not numbers. And overall I felt great! I stayed plenty hydrated and fueled, something that I am good at :-) I need to have a happy belly! I had a few sports beans, half a cliff bar, and two Gu gels over the course of 20 miles. And of course I stopped at all of the water stops:

Before I knew it we were closing in on 18 miles and it was time to drop off a few of our teammates. Only two miles to go. My running buddies Christine and Rachel were my partners in crime going for the big 2-0 with me.

The first mile was up hill which was mentally and physically tough at this point in the run. We talked ourselves thru it, but it seemed like a really loooong mile. When we hit mile 19 though we all had big, cheesy grins on our face. We were totally running 20 freakin’ miles for the first time EVER! And we were going to live to tell about it!

Wrapping up the run was pure elation. We did it! It was awesome! Watch out Kalamazoo Marathon, the Transformers are ready to roll run out!

We spent the next 20 minutes stretching and reliving our glory. Oh, and eating bagels!

I would like to say that I felt nothing but sunshine and rainbows for the rest of the day, but sadly (or pathetically on my part) that was not the case. Even though I told myself time and time again that I would not get hung up on numbers or time, I decided to do some math in my head to estimate how long it took me to tackle this run and it was not pretty.

I just felt in my heart that I can do better. Come race day, whether I come in first (haha!) or last, I want to know that I gave it my all. I want to know in my heart that I did not leave anything out there on that course. Make sense?

I want run a race that I can be proud of.

I have one more long run to go before taper and I plan to give it 110%. Even though I can get a little discouraged time and again (don’t we all!), am trying to keep in mind what my original race goals were:

Goal #1: To start and complete the Kalamazoo Marathon on May 6th, 2012.

Goal #2: Have fun and stay injury free! (Ok, so maybe that is two goals!)

I think that I am on my way to doing that!

Do your race goals change as your training progresses? Do you write down your goals as a reminder to yourself?

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24 thoughts on “The Time Where I Ran 20 Miles and Did Not Die

  1. So glad to hear the 20 miler went well! I think if you just relax and trust your training and the hard work you have put in you will do great. You have it in you for sure! :-)

    I think blogging and Daily Mile have helped me to write down and keep track of my goals! I also like to visualize myself performing well at a race – and crossing that finish line knowing that I gave it my all!!

    • I agree! Blogging and Daily Mile are such great resources for where you are and how far you have come….great tools with goal setting. Thank you for following me along on my marathon journey. You are such a motivation for me…you are the runner I someday hope to be! Keep rocking those races Lady!

  2. I am so proud of you! You did it!! 20 miles!! You are sooooo going to kill this Marathon! It helps that you are training on the course. That’s going to help a TON with your confidence. Go get it!!!

    • Are you still on your marathon high?! Because it has been 4 days since I have run my 20 miles and I am still so happy about that :-) Thanks for your support Jim! I have been so inspired by you and your race!

      • I AM still on my marathon high. I look at the pictures from the race and still can’t believe that I did that. SO proud of you!

  3. You are SO going to run a race to be proud of!! That is always, always, ALWAYS my number one goal with any race I run. Run strong, run HAPPY, run proud. You are incredible and you are going to do GREAT on the big day. LOVE the energy in this post!! I can practically SEE you grinning with glee just by reading your words. Awesome!!

    • It was such an amazing feeling of accomplishment! I am so excited that you are on the way to your first marathon too. I am looking forward to reading all about your journey to get there. Training has been so much fun Lady! I know that you will embrace and enjoy it too. Thank you for all of your supportive comments and inspiration….I will be channeling you on May 6th, knowing that you will be ROCKING your half!

  4. Congrats on the PDR! As most marathoners say, the training runs are always the worst and you do awesome on the actual race day. So don’t worry about your time. You’re just building the distance at this point. You’ll do awesome once you’re all hyped up and excited on race day. :-)

    • And I AM SO EXCITED for race day! I loved reading about your marathons and your journey to get there….your blog helped fuel a fire in me for training for my own race. Than you for that and for all of your support Lady! :-)

  5. I get goosebumps when I think about you crossing the finish line. Hold on to that feeling! It will push your through and leaving you feeling proud. Race day energy will also make those numbers a little smaller :)

    Congrats on 20 miles!!!! You are amazing!


    Don’t even fret about your time – doing the longest of the runs is partially to condition your joints, a lot to condition your mind (like you said, you had to talk yourself through some things) and to get your body working on Glycogen Regenesis so that come race day, you are in Familiar Territory.

    I have two training goals this go-round: Race while in-training (I didn’t race a single time during my training period for the first marathon and only raced three times total last year!) and finish training uninjured. So far, we’re good on both counts.

    • Thank you Kat for helping me put things in perspective! Your comments always help me see the light and the big picture with my running. I am so inspired by you and your journey and awesome training! I am so proud of YOU! Can’t wait to see how all of your hard work will pay off. Happy training friend!

  7. Wow! AWESOME WORK!! I can’t even fathom. I am glad you reigned yourself in and back to your original goals. Discouragement sucks, especially when we do it to ourselves needlessly. You are going to do yourself proud!!! I am so impressed.

  8. I am incredibly happy for you! This is awesome. How great that you could run with such an amazing group – and do the course.

    You are SO ready!

    My goals don’t change bc typically I tailor my method to be the best way to reach a goal. Although that doesn’t always work. :)

    • Love group running. I never thought that I was a good enough runner to share the journey with others, but I am so happy that I did. Thank you so much for all of your uplifting comments…you have helped make my day :-)

  9. Amanda, you are amazing. You are inspiring. I am so excited and proud of you!!!! Seriously, reading your blog just makes me want to run right now! I know that you WILL give it your all, so no worries about that. Just think of how far you’ve come–and with so much other hard stuff going on in your life. To see these pictures of you feeling good and happy makes my heart smile. You’ve got this, girl. XO

    • You are making me tear up! Ok, blinking it back!
      Thank you so much for all of your support thru this crazy journey. You would not believe how much motivation that you have given me along the way. When you ran that AMAZING PR half, I was in major awe of you Lady! You gave me so much inspiration to get out there and OWN my running and put a fire in me for the race ahead. I am so happy that you are back to your running ways. Looking forward to reading about where your speedy legs will take you next!


  10. Congratulations on 20 miles!!! That’s awesome. Remember that things are often different in races than in training. You’ll be more focused, you’ll be tapered with fresh legs, you’ll know that you’re going to get a nice well-deserved break after the marathon and will be more motivated to leave it all out there. As long as you try your best, you should be proud of whatever you do! It’s all about giving your best with what you have on that day.

  11. Pingback: A Year | Miles Gone By

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