Anyway, obviously my first 20 miler was a veritable shit-show. To say that I was dreading today's run would be an understatement. I let myself sleep in, checked my email, folded and refolded laundry, chatted with the roommate, went to the bathroom approximately five times and then checked my email again because you never know! I had mapped a route that took me through Fresh Pond and down the Esplanade and into the Emerald Necklace. Never having run the Emerald Necklace, I was a little nervous about whether I'd be on roads, running paths, would I need to make turns to stay on the route? At the last minute I decided to do two laps around Fresh Pond and then continue on to the Minuteman Bike Path. Probably a lot less scenic, but one that I'd run plenty of times.
I've realized that trying new routes for a long run just doesn't work for me. Instead of settling into the run I am worried about whether I've made a wrong turn or if I'm going the wrong way. There were a lot of things that were really terrible about my last 20 miler, and I think that it was definitely compounded by the fact that I pretty much had no idea where I was at any given moment. So by going with a familiar route today I was able to focus on the task at hand: running 20 damn miles.
So, I made a last-minute decision to change my running route. I don't know that I've ever really done that before. Luckily I know approximate mileage from my apartment to various spots on the bike path and that helped me figure out where I needed to turn around. I had a few, er - bathroom breaks, but other than that things felt pretty good. I had no noticeable knee pain, which is always something to cheer about. I was slowly ticking away the miles and then I hit 16. And I started to feel good. Better, actually. The tightness in my hamstrings faded away as I settled into a quicker, but more comfortable rhythm. I made a conscious effort to really listen to my music, to not look at my Garmin and to just.. go. I guess it must have worked because my last four miles were 10:43, 10:45, 10:28, 10:27, and 10:24. Not too bad, eh?
I ran 20 miles in 3:38:30 (10:54 pace) and I felt so strong. I'm tired, of course, and I'll definitely be sore tomorrow but I am ready. Last weekend's half marathon while being sick, a PR at Tufts (spoiler alert, since I haven't posted about that yet!), and clocking my fastest 400 on the track (1:50! And it was the last one of the workout. Lucky #12!) has showed me that my training is paying off. Listen, I'm not going to break any speed records here, but I am tough, I'm strong, and I never give up.
I know that no matter what happens on Sunday, November 4th that I have trained to the best of my ability. I've put in the hours and I've done the workouts. The rest is up to the race gods.
I'm actually pretty terrible at the whole taper thing -- tell me how you stave off taper madness. And tell me about any races that you're training for/looking forward to. I want to hear it all!