20 Miles, Have No Fear!

It was a busy weekend.  One that didn’t allow me to do my typical Sunday morning long run.  Sometimes life gets in the way of running.  I had trouble running most of the previous week primarily due to sore calves that I earned at the 2009 Utica Boilermaker.  Like a small child I was grumpy because my routine was thrown off.  To top it off it started to pour rain while I got ready to head out.  I wasn’t heading out for just any run, this was a 20 mile run.  This would be the longest I’d run since October of 2008.  I didn’t want to go.

Rain is fun when it starts during a run.  It is not fun if you start in the rain.  The feeling fades quickly and it becomes fun but it is a huge mental barrier.  Luckily for me the rain stopped 5-10 minutes because my scheduled departure.  I stowed refills in my mailbox and stuffed a bunch of gels in my pocket.  I created a new playlist and shuffled it so I had no idea what music was coming next.

…And then I ran.  And ran.  And ran some more.  I forced myself to take it easy.  I’m trying to keep my paces very comfortable for at least the first half of my long runs.  My strategy for Vegas is to run a nice easy and even paced first half and then kick things up a bit in the second half.  “Practice makes permanent.”

After ten miles I felt really good but I didn’t pick up the pace much.  I’d been running for quite a while and wondered if things would blow up in the next 10 miles or not.  There were no explosions.  Nothing blew up at all.  Things got better and better.

The first 6.5 miles of miles of my route were the same as the last 6.5 miles.  I ran the final 6.5 miles almost 5 minutes faster than the first!  I have never felt so strong at the end of such a long run.  I’ve had some great 16 mile runs and some really good 18 mile runs but I’ve never felt anything like this after 20 miles.  I’m pretty sure my last mile was at about a 6:20-6:30 pace.

My training is working.  First I held my long run at 13 miles until it felt like child’s play.  Then I bumped to 16, and then 18, and now I’m at 20.  I want to build that up to 22-24.  I want to run those distances without fear and with (relative) ease.  20 miles used to be a very frightening distance for me but not anymore!

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