Yesterday morning I ran 20 miles. It was my second time ever running that far, and even though it took me four hours instead of three a half (as it did the first time) I finished in much better shape.
Since I've been sick the last two weekends, and since the Austin Marathon is quickly approaching, I took vacation time and spent the hours I would normally be librarian-ing at my desk on the trail and the street, pounding out my long run. An odd way to use vacation time, yes, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
I decided to combine two routes that I often run, both of which are five miles long - Lanana Creek Trail, and a loop through a hilly neighborhood. There is a point where the two routes almost meet and so, in order to keep things interesting and to give my knees a rest, I ran the neighborhood loop once (5 miles), then the trail (10 miles), then back to the 'hood (15 miles) and finally back to the trail (20 miles!). It worked perfectly - each 5 mile section felt like a little victory and I didn't get too bored.
And guys! I was feeling awesome for most of my run. My chest cold is still lingering, which is mostly why my pace was so slow (nearly a 12 minute mile pace, overall - ouch!). I wanted to run faster, but each time I tried to speed things up, I'd breathe deeply and then - coughing fit. So I had to keep it slow (and run with a cough drop in my mouth). It was nice - relaxing and easy, laid back and fun.
And then I got to mile 17.
This was right about where my body started to get all rebellious. "What the hell are we doing?" it said. "We haven't run more than 10 miles in weeks, and you want us to go 20? Are you crazy?" Yes, actually. I am. For the last two miles, I had to take a few walking breaks - 20 seconds here, 30 there - but when I saw that I only had a half a mile left, all bets were off. I even picked up the pace! And when I was finished, I was finished. Twenty miles. Boo-yah.
Needless to say, I'm feeling better about the marathon. Also, we're already more than half way to our fundraising goal for Doctors Without Borders, which is both amazing and humbling. I'm especially loving the comments people have been leaving - our friends and family are witty and generous. A winning combination, and I am so thankful for all of you! I've got one more long run planned and then before you know it will be MARATHON TIME! I can't wait!