Wednesday, September 23, 2009

20+ miles of beat down

I did my 20 mile run on Wednesday morning in Chicago before I left to come home to TX (where it is actually cooler than Chicago... weird?!). For those of you who may not be as intimately acquainted with marathon training programs, many of them include long runs that peak with 20 miles. It takes the average, or beginner in my case, body some time to recover from running that many miles so you do the 20 mile run about three weeks before the race and then "taper" your mileage down leading up to the race to allow for fresh legs and recovery.

I wanted to make sure that I was running a full 20 miles so I overshot what I was running by just a little bit and got lost blazing a new part of the trail and missed a mile marker. Either way, I think I was somewhere between 20 and 21 miles... a.k.a. a super long way to run! We live on the Northside of Chicago, a little more than a mile to the lakefront so I ran all the way there, through Lincoln Park, past the Nature Museum and Zoo, down past Streeterville and the Navy Pier, Millenium Park, through the Museum Campus, past Soldier field and the McCormick Place, all the way down the Southside. I figure I was probably at 40th-50th streets when I finally reached my turnaround point.

It was a LONG WAY!!!

During the run, it was truly agonizing. It took me a little bit more than 4 hours and it was so humid that I was just dripping from the start. I now am the proud owner of a temporary tramp stamp where my fuel belt rubbed my skin raw (note: I will not be wearing the same shorts in the race now because I think it was the tag coming in contact with the belt... hello tagless shorts!). I was so lucky that it stayed mostly cloudy for the vast majority of my run. It made the humidity almost bearable.

Now looking back, I'm feeling a little sore and creaky but not feeling too bad considering what I put my body through. During the run, I felt really in control for most of it. When I wanted to stop, I simply told myself that it hurt less to run than it did to walk (totally true... that is the good thing about my IT band issues, it really doesn't hurt once I get into my gait and feel the rhythm of running). I also told myself that I'm mentally strong enough to push through and run the marathon. I'm hoping with the adrenaline and my family and friends being there to cheer me on that I'll have enough left in the tank to feel really good on race day. It feels so nice to know that the longest I have to run until race day is only 12 miles. 12 miles? Not too tough!

It's crazy to think that my journey in this is coming to an end. I set this goal for myself almost a year ago when I saw everyone at the airport in their marathon medals. I guess I had a little hardware envy? I have never attempted anything even remotely this physically draining but the journey has been so fulfilling. Each race that I've done has been such a cool experience and I have learned that I can really do anything physically that I set my mind to. I know that during the race it's going to be a struggle, running 20 miles surely was! But I did that and I did it by myself, with no coaching, at my own pace and it feels really satisfying.

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