Yesterday, I headed out for my very last pre-Philadelphia long run: 20 miles.

Prep: I started eating carbs like it was my job on Wednesday, ate pasta twice on Thursday, and then ate pretty light Friday (I had a peanut a butter and jelly English muffin and a bottle of G2 for dinner) and went to bed early.

I got up at 6, ate an English muffin with peanut butter, had a little water, toiled over what to wear (43 when I was heading out…would be 50 by the time I was done! ah, decisions!) and then headed out the door. I wore my belt with 1 bottle of water and 1 bottle of the Endurance Formula Gatorade they’ll have on the course in Philly. My husband said he’d meet me at my turnaround (I ran a 10 mile out-and-back) to swap my bottles out for new ones so I didn’t have to carry 4. I carried 2 packs of sport beans (crammed into one of the resealable packages.)

I was really, really excited for this run. Earlier in the week I was almost dreading it (not sure why) but on Thursday I really started to get excited. Friday morning I did an elliptical workout and not being able to run got me even more excited to get out there Saturday morning. Goal pace for this run was 9:20, and Joseph said I could push towards 9:10 if I was feeling it. (Because I had this crazy idea that I could maybe run a 4-hours-flat marathon and wanted to see how that pace felt.)

It should be no surprise to anyone that I started too fast–for some reason I wasn’t so hell-bent on running smart like I did for my last 20-miler. I just wanted to have fun. I knew I was being a little reckless with my pace, but I did this on purpose. I wanted to test my limits.

1   8:53  didn’t mean to do that.
2   9:14
3   9:30
4   9:10
6   9:18
7   9:20
8   9:17
9   9:04
10 9:24 What? It’s time to turn around?

I was really having fun. Average pace for the first 10 was 9:14. I met Chris, swapped out my bottles, and turned around.

11 9:13
12 9:11
13 9:07 I saw this split come across my watch and for the first time thought that I should maybe take it easy on the pace, but I was having so much fun I didn’t worry about it too much. Half marathon time was just a hair over 2 hours.

14 9:18
15 9:24 This mile took me gradually uphill, and I didn’t try to push too hard here. I knew I’d be feeling it soon. (Side note: over 6 minutes faster than my Jack 15 time like 6 weeks ago!)
16 9:19

I tried to keep my head in a good place towards the end here–to think about what it would feel like to have run this far and know that I still have 10 miles left. I would be tired. And it might hurt. I thought about the article Amy just had published about thinking like the pros. She talked about how a number of runners have a word that helps them focus, like ‘kick,’ or ‘strong.’

I was lost in thought trying to decide if there was a word that would do that for me–that would pull me back and help me dig deep–when I got to Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ on my playlist. Believe! Yes, believe. Believe I can do this. Believe that the last 4 months have made me tougher, both physically and mentally. Believe that I’m going have one hell of a great day on November 22nd.

Believe, I told myself. Believe.

17 9:38 This mile was almost entirely uphill–I wasn’t dying yet.
18 9:27
19 9:52 And cue DEATH. At 18.5 I took my last turn towards home and it sent me uphill and into the wind. This mile was rough. Just past 19 Chris met me and told me I looked awesome and clapped, and reminded me I was so close–and I swear to you I couldn’t get my pace under 10 to save my life–and then I could. Having that support sure makes a difference.
20 9:40 I pulled together what I could here, but I was still heading uphill and I sure didn’t have much left.

Final average pace was 9:19. No negative split, but pace goal attained! (Albeit in a rather reckless fashion.)

In my estimation, I was maybe 2 miles from being in serious, serious trouble. I’ve never hit the wall, but this was the closest I’ve ever gotten–and I did this on purpose. If I ran easy yesterday I knew damn well I’d be over-confident in Philly. I wanted it to hurt a little, and it did. I definitely have much more respect for the distance now. I’ve had people tell me all along to just have fun, to go out easy–but now I really understand why. I think the pace I ran is one I could do for 26 miles if, and only IF I ran steady–I can’t have those quick miles in there without paying for it dearly at the end.

I also decided I need to get up early enough on race day to eat half my English muffin, wait a while, and then eat the other half, because I felt really full when I started. My stomach was very, very good to me yesterday though–maybe giving up coffee is helping? Other things I learned/decided: don’t take gloves off, hands go numb quickly; easy on the turbo-charged Gatorade–that stuff is STRONG; always keep moving–I had to stop for a stoplight at 19 or so and WOW was it hard to get moving again. Got any tips of your own? Send ’em my way!

So, that’s it. Last long run done. I’m in taper mode now. Can we just take a second to freak out because OHMYGOD I’m running a marathon in TWO WEEKS! 14 days from right now I’ll be running the biggest race I’ve run yet–the one that has forced me to train the hardest, to risk the most.

And above all, believe.

Happy running.

1 Response to “Believe”

  1. 1 amyreinink November 11, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Believe! How wonderful! And I love that you tailored your key word to something so personal and applicable. Gave me the chills! I have a bunch of cheesy mantras (strength, power and grace are biggies for me, for various reasons), but during the Marine Corps Marathon, it was “Work It Out” that let me adjust mentally to what was going on that day. It’s a message of chilling out and trusting that things will work themselves out, which I very much needed.

    So one more key word for you: trust, because all you’ve got to do now is trust your training and go run your victory lap!

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