Sunday, October 9, 2011

20 Mile Run & Half Marathon #14 Report

My friend, Mandy, is training for her first full marathon. We have run a few longer runs together this summer and tried to do an 18 miler two weeks ago. But the downpour when I was at the trailhead, after a coaching session, didn't seem too appealing for a three hour run. I instead opted to go to breakfast with my clients and she opted to do the eighteen miles on her treadmill. I cut my run short and only did seven around my neighborhood that afternoon.

We are both training for the same full marathon later this month. But, I really am toying with the idea of asking at packet pick-up to switch to the half marathon. I've been running consistently, and logging quite a few miles. But, I just don't have enough long runs under my belt to have the confidence to get out there and run 26.2 hilly miles. I haven't run a twenty miler since my training for the 2010 Lakefront Marathon last October.

So, when Mandy asked me to run 20 miles with her this past Saturday, I admit I was a bit scared to agree. But, she admitted she is scared, too. This is her first 26.2 mile journey. So, I wanted to be apart of it. I'm still not sure if I'm doing the full, or the half. But, I wanted to prove to myself that I could just go out there .... And do it!. And, I did....

I picked her up at 8:00 am and we got to the Glacial Drumlin Trail Head in Cottage Grove in about twenty minutes. The beautiful un-fall-like weather continued for the weekend with the gorgeous sun shining down and the temps were going to be in the mid to upper 70's. There was going to be a nice gentle breeze at our backs on the way out and would cool us down on our return.

I made a quick potty stop and downed a gel before we headed out. I gave Mandy one of my precious handheld water bottles and some Sports Beans to try. And we were off.

The first five miles felt great. Mandy dropped her fleece and sunglasses behind the two mile marker. Conversation was awesome, because we always have tons and tons to talk about on our runs. The time goes by so incredibly fast and I rarely look at my watch. I only looked at my watch at each mile marker when she would ask, "How are we doing". We were consistently running 9:30-9:45 min miles. Right on target.

I sipped on a gel from miles 5-7. Around mile seven, when we arrived at Deerfield, we passed a park with a fountain and bathroom, and agreed we would get it on the way back. The crushed gravel under my feet felt great on my joints, but I could feel my ankles getting tired. There were a lot of people out on bikes that morning, but after mile six, the runners were few and far in between.

We finally saw the Mile 10 sign and got all giddy and did the dreaded, painful turnaround. The nice breeze was at our face, but not intense. It felt great. The sun was no longer in our eyes, but was shining down. The fall leaves continued to crunch under my running shoes with every step. Mandy almost stepped on a snake. I saw quite a few fuzzy wuzzy caterpillers that the kids enjoyed meeting and greeting when we were out on the trail the past weekend.

I sipped on another gel from miles 11-12. We stopped in Deerfield at that park and got water, filled up the water bottles, got more water, stretched and got more water. I was thirsty! Then we headed back for our last seven-ish miles. Dreaded last seven-ish miles.

As we headed back to the trail head, we encountered more and more runners. Mandy would've been able to keep up a faster pace, but stuck with me. My hip-flexers were starting to give out and I started to get a side ache from all that water I drank at the park. I did a little complaining, she asked me if I wanted to walk, but I kept on. I'd come too far to decided to walk/run the last bit of our journey together. The last few miles were getting slower, but still a bit consistent. We were running a little over ten minute miles.

At three hours, I glared at my watch in both digust and excitement. This had been the best long run I had ever experienced, but I was ready to be over. I had been seeking 3:20 as our final time and were going to be right on target. I cheered and said, "We have been running for three hours, Mandy!". We both cheered. This was her longest run ever. And my longest in a year.

Mandy picked up her items that were stashed behind the mile 18 mile marker. Mile seventeen felt long, but mile eighteen felt even longer. At one point she asked where the heck the mile marker was. Sadly, we hadn't missed it. There it was, Mile 19. "One more mile to go, Jamie ... you've got this!", she said. Wasn't I supposed be encouraging here?!?!

We saw so many more people out on family walks, riding their bikes, and heading out on training runs those last couple of miles. I just wanted a sign to hold over my head (not that I could get my arms over my head at this point!) that said, "I don't always look this terrible ... really, I don't ... it's not like I just went out and ran 3-4 miles ... I just ran 20 friggin' miles!!".

Mandy reminded me that the Diet Mountain Dew and Powerade Zero that I was craving so much were waiting for me in the Marathon Mommy Minivan. I told her that they would be gone before we left the parking lot.

The dreaded incline in the last 1/4 mile was right in front of us. She reminded me that it was there as I started slowly taking one choppy step in front of the other. Up we went and we got to the top and Mandy cheered. The finish line was in sight. There is literally a line spray painted across the trail ... and I couldn't wait to cross it. And, see that awesome YOU ROCK painted at the trail head!!

And, we did cross it ... 3:22:17 after we started!!!!!!!!!

We grabbed some stuff to hydrate with, walked around the parking lot and I downed the entire Diet Mountain Dew and Powerade Zero, as promised, before we left the parking lot. A nice guy who was racking up his bike agreed to take our photo.

I went home, took a nice hot shower, made a small lunch and sat out on my deck with a book. I was given Water for Elephants to read. Because, I'm told I never take time for myself to relax and rest. Which I admit is true. I'm already half way done and am enjoying the book, and the moments of relaxation. As I read with my book on my lap, my feet were absolutely disgusting. My bunions were hurting and the blisters on my one toe and the sides of my feet were nasty.

This reading session fit perfectly with the theme of my 5K run on Sunday morning, because I was scheduled to run the local Literacy Run in downtown Madison. I was not sure how I would feel on Sunday morning after the twenty miler and a fun night out with friends.

Stay tuned.

Twenty Mile
Training Run ...
Half Marathon


  1. nice work jamie! :) congratulations on a great long run.

  2. Awesome job! And I'm so glad you had a running buddy for the 20 miles. Can't beat that. :)