The Last Big Run: 20 Miles

5 Sep

Yesterday was my final big run of marathon training. I had worked my way up to 20 miles over the past 9 months. From now until the race, my weekly long runs will taper down in distance.

A year ago on September 10th was my first 5K. I had only been running since August 2, and I remember what a big deal I thought the 5K was. I had worked so hard, and thought 3 miles was an eternity to run. I couldn’t believe I was about to conquer that distance. And here, nearly a year later, I did almost 7 times that distance.

The run was very hard. I went with my marathon race partner as well as a girl from a running group. We decided to do an out and back run, so the first 10 miles were all uphill and gaining in elevation. The last 2 miles of the first stretch were on dirt trail. Neither myself nor my partner are able to run on trail—it’s too unstable for my bad foot. So we had to walk the last two and the first two of our stretch back for a total of 4 miles. It was unfortunate since we couldn’t really accurately time ourselves, but it’s also absolutely not worth getting injured on loose gravel this close to the race.

My 16 mile run went very well. I wasn’t in bad pain, and I had energy to spare. Yesterday, the pain in my legs hit early, at mile 14. My legs turned to stone, and my hips and knees were hurting horribly. The last 5 miles, we turned fairly silent, each of us in our own pain, trying to keep going.

I put my headphones on since we had stopped chatting much to try to keep going. I kept saying in my head, my personal mantra “I run because I can.” I think that went on for nearly 2 miles. I had to keep focusing on the fact that I will only have to do this distance one more time and it will be so worth it for the big race. My partners had an easier time than I did and were a bit ahead of me, but I kept plugging away.

Finally I looked down at my Garmin and saw we were only one mile from finishing. We had all caught up with each other and decided to run the last mile together. My iPod was on shuffle, but the song that came on during this final stretch was “Jump (For Your Love)” by the Pointer Sisters. It’s an oldie, but I love this song. What was interesting is that it was the very first song that came on my iPod for the start of my first 5K. I remember climbing the enormous hill at the start of the 5K to this song and using it to get up there. And now, on my final mile, it was the song that came on to get me through the last big hill on the trail and the last big run of my marathon training.

I suddenly had energy and was able to keep a decent clip at the end. We charged up the final hill smiling widely and thrilled to have accomplished such an insanely difficult feat. I watched my Garmin and when the mileage changed to 20, I shouted “we’re done!” We all laughed and high-fived. We were all pretty miserable, but at that moment, we felt like we were on top of the world.

All in all, the run took us 5:26:31, which is far too slow of a pace to complete the marathon in the 6 hour time limit, but we did walk about 4 miles due to the gravel trail. At that moment, it didn’t matter. We finished 20 miles, something I never thought I’d ever do especially when I started my running journey nearly a year ago.

2 Responses to “The Last Big Run: 20 Miles”

  1. Mrs. K September 7, 2011 at 4:20 PM #

    Hi, Noel,
    Just came by to read your latest entries and had to smile. Wow, how old am I when the Pointer Sisters are considered “oldies”!!! LOL
    Mrs. K.

  2. Noel D. September 8, 2011 at 6:29 AM #

    LOL sorry! 🙂 🙂 Although I’m now getting that same feeling as I am now meeting people who weren’t alive when Friends was on the air and stuff like that. Or missed the rise (and fall) of New Kids on the Block! LOL LOL

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