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?