20 Miles, A Big Deal For Me….

No matter how many 20 milers I have ran in the past, and no matter how many I run in the future, 20 miles is a big deal for me.  That’s a lot of miles for this body.  It’s not easy.  It’s hard.  I want to cry.  Sometimes I do cry.  But I usually finish.  Saturday was no exception.  It was hard but I finished. 


I’m not fast.  I always “think” that I can run 20 miles in 3 hours but it never happens.  It took me 3 hours and 16 minutes this time (not counting potty stops).  As always, I probably started out too fast and I definitely ended in a crawl too slow. 

Although mentally 20 miles doesn’t seem that cumbersome, my body always reminds me to respect the distance.  So here is the breakdown of the good, the bad & the ugly.

The Good

  • I finished.
  • First consecutive 20 miler of the training cycle.
  • Ran comfortably for 13 miles at a decent clip.
  • I didn’t have any foot pain.
  • I have amazing running friends (ones who get up early and run in the dark with me, and others who take over and carry me thru those last very difficult miles).
  • The trail was 98% clear.
  • I didn’t poo my pants.

The Bad

  • Pace was all over the place.  Mile 10 being the fastest at 8:43, Mile 17 being the slowest at 11:00.
  • Feet started to get hot spots by mile 10.
  • Cold & Windy
  • Stomach cramps for 90% of the run.

The Ugly

  • 4 bathroom stops
  • I started hyperventilating 2x cuz I was about to cry.
  • Pace was ALL over the place.
  • I slowed down my run friends by A LOT.
  • I didn’t care that I slowed down my run friends by A LOT cuz I couldn’t go any faster.
  • Fueling Fail.  Bananas were not my friend!
  • I’m scared I’ll poo my pants at the Lansing Marathon.

I knew this run would be a rude awakening.  The bulk of my long training runs have been split due to time, work, kid & family schedules.  I didn’t have other options so just went with it.  Initially I wanted to run a spring marathon to force myself to run long and run strong all winter, no matter what.  I was hoping that the miles would bring back the speed and I tried to pick a plan to focus on being the best I could at this interval of my life.  However, I can’t pick the chaos that life chooses to hand me at any given moment.  I’m not advocating slacking, nor do I think I’m slacking, but the bottom line is that I have to balance my real life and my run life and they need to play nicely together or I will lose one or both.  So I do what I can do and refuse to stress about what gets left behind.

 sometimes the best you can do

I didn’t anticipate that both my tummy and feet, would have such a hard time adjusting to the long (consecutive) run.  I was definitely out of fuel due to the potty stops, then afraid to refuel for fear of not making it to the next potty stop.  I did, however, have better luck toward the end of the run when I was empty decided to forgo additional banana pieces and start fueling with the AdvoCare Rehydrate Gels since 1) I definitely needed to rehydrate and 2) that was what I will be using on race day.  I think I will start out with these next long run to see if I do better from the start.  I may be breaking up with my bananas.  They normally are safe but that hasn’t been the case for this training cycle.  It’s possible that my body is changing yet once again and I need to find a new pre-run fuel.  Sad but true. 

As for my feet,  I developed hot spots just from being up and running for that longer period of time. This is the same reason so many people’s feet blister during a marathon.  It’s further than they have ever ran before, sometimes the roads slant differently than my treadmill their training grounds, and the feet just can’t handle the pressure.  So I need to spend more time on my feet, on the road/trail and I have got to train my tummy to handle the run without developing “the runs”.  I’ve got 32 more days.  That’s not a lot of time; wish me luck!

How are your long runs going? Are you killing it this go ‘round, or are the long runs killing you?  Every training cycle is different, just do your best!

** Happy  Training ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

16 thoughts on “20 Miles, A Big Deal For Me….

  1. Aw man, sorry to hear it went not-so-nicely. My long runs have gone well lately… but mentally I haven’t been “in it”. I feel my goal time slipping away… and yet I don’t care too much. It’s hard to reign in focus when it’s not there. sigh.

    • Yeah, Jess…. I let go of any “goals” other than finish it about a month ago. I just couldn’t mentally handle it and I knew all the split runs weren’t really preparing my the way I would normally expect. I do this for fitness so weather I finish in 4 hours or 5, it’s still an accomplishment and a WIN in my book.

      You’re doing great and your having fun with some of the events, which is huge. Focus on the fun! 🙂

      On Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 2:32 PM, TooTallFritz

  2. If you are not fast, then I am not even moving. 🙂
    Sorry it was a sucky run, but you got it done. How are my long runs? Umm, I guess my half’s have been my long runs, but apparently a slight tear in the calf means I’ll be taking it a little easy for the next week or so. Not fabulous when I have a hilly half coming up. Your 32 days, my 40 days. Hope we can get our bodies to cooperate by then!! :/

    • Be careful with the calf! I’ll be thinking about you. And remember, pace is relative. I WANT to faster, so it seems slow to me having to slug out these long, hard runs. I’m just wishing it were a bit easier, just like I’m sure everyone else does when they are out there too!

      On Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 2:43 PM, TooTallFritz

  3. 20 miles is such an accomplishment and I cannot wait to get that far! I am running my first half in June and full in October. Let the long runs begin!!

  4. I cannot wait to reach that stage of running! 🙂 I just started running last year (Summer) and you are definitely an inspiration to keep going. 🙂
    Happy Running. Wish me luck! 🙂

  5. That’s why I have said goodbye to marathons. I hate the long runs. And life is too short to do something you don’t like. Plus they take so frickin long and they beat you up for days. I’m sticking to the shorter stuff.

    • My hubby keeps asking me why I keep doing them. It’s about the challenge. However, I’m really maxed out at about 8-9 miles of hard running. I can’t even fathom how people can BQ. It’s really just beyond my comprehension.

      On Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 2:58 PM, TooTallFritz

  6. Terrific post! Long runs can definitely be beasts, but it feels SO good to have them done. Funny you should mention bananas…I used to eat them as my standard “pre-long-run” breakfast and nearly every time I’d have to make a pit stop mid-run. As an experiment, I tried replacing the bananas with just toast and a little honey before the long runs, as well not eating meat the day before that run ….and no intestinal problems since. There’s so much experimentation in marathon training! I don’t think it ever ends 😉 ….but it sounds like you are learning a lot along the way. Keep up the great work, and great writing.

  7. Long runs always are tough and one shouldn’t expect them to go without issues. That’s the purpose…building conditioning and discovering what works and where to make adjustments. Marathon an endurance race, but too short to be putting in solid food in your stomach. That plays havoc with you too cause in order to digest that food, blood has to be shunted to the digestive tract, meanwhile muscles needing all the oxygen they can get and get rid of the breakdown products and get blood cells back to be re-charged with oxygen, get less some of that blood now going to digestive system…or worse yet…body says no to the shunt of blood and digestion and you get into issues with food in the gut and it not being broken down and nutrients absorbed. In other words…you gonna have to slow down a lot in speed to take in sold food and process it, or you just putting your internal physiology into opposing dichotomies to expect it to run distance at sustained speed and digest food!

    I would always recommend relying on the gels that have balanced mix of complex carb and some sugar….dose them in….and supplement them with adequate water to make sure you get right mix for maximum absorption in gut. Gut can handle that…doesn’t have to work hard to get that gel diluted with water absorbed….win-win!

    Regarding GI-issues…it has always been a notorius issue for me and in fact for most of my marathon training regimens I practice getting in and out of POL less than 1-minute so I don’t loose too much time with respect to finish goal in the marathon. This past year I have been experimenting with Pepto Bismo chew tablets. They seem to have some promise. I don’t use them unless I sense I could have issues developing. At last fall’s Chicago Marathon I was having issues even before start of race and barely made it into the corral by the cut-off time. I took one while I was still in the POL….then later on in race about 45-min down the road another.

    Result…not a single pit-stop entire race….nice! I may have lost some time in last 5-miles cause my foot was hurting so bad cause my toenail partly torn loose…but at least I didn’t have to loose time in some porta-john! I also don’t take in solid food the night before and just rely on nutrition drinks as liquid meals!

    Keep testing and trying….you will find a way!

    • I didnt have my normal pre long run dinner of pasta & red sauce. I think I made several mistakes. Fortunately, the sitter can come back this week so I get to give it another go for my 15 on SAT.

  8. Amanda, you are amazing. 20 miles is a big deal. Heck, there are days when 1 mile is a big deal for me! The bottom line is that you did it — you didn’t quit, no matter what evilness your stomach or feet dealt you. And there are just some days we all do have to call it quits due to an injury, illness, or mental breakdown, and that’s ok too!!! We are all proud of you, and you are an inspiration for us.

  9. What kind of socks are you wearing? I got some swiftwick compression socks and they seem to help with blisters/hot spots.

    Pre-training pasta/sauce – have you tried some protein? I switched to pizza a while ago before races b/c it keeps me more/energized for the run and no stomach woes (for me at least)

    Hang in there!! You’ll figure it out!

    • I’m wearing the pro compression trainer low socks then cep calf sleeves. Those were the only white calf sleeves that I own and I needed white. 🙂

      Haven’t tried protein. I have IBS and digestion is an issue, so have to avoid protein before I run since it takes longer to break down. I have to stick to soft things that digest fast. I’m better off if I can avoid eating but I’ll figure something out, maybe a half of a plain bagel?

      On Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 9:27 AM, TooTallFritz

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