F’N 20 Miler ….

Every marathoner gets to the point in “the plan” where they are facing down a 20 mile run.  For some it’s just another day, another run.  For others it’s a daunting undertaking which stirs up a lot of nerves.  I personally have used training plans in the past which schedule anywhere from one to five 20 mile runs throughout the entire program.  I can honestly say I have yet to feel a benefit by cramming several 20 milers into a training plan.  Marathons are hard for me.   At some point during the race, it’s gonna hurt.  Some people are going to process “the hurt” better than others and have a better experience.  The reason most training plans go all the way up to the magic “20 miler” is to help us get a bit of an idea of how to process those longer miles.  How to manage “the hurt”, if you will.  The 20 miler is on the plan to boost YOUR confidence level and help you to realize that you will be crossing that finish line in the very near future.  It’s really as much of mental exercise as a physical one because let’s be honest, if you can run 16 or 18 miles {and your healthy} then there is nothing that will stop you on race day from completing the full 26.2.  You have had the ability to run and finish the marathon long before the 20 mile training run but it’s that “magic 20” that brings the confidence, the knowledge that you CAN and WILL run a marathon.

I can I will

Now that running is “cool” we have lots of options for a 20 miler.  I’ve done 20 mile training runs a lot of different ways (alone, with someone riding a bike, on the treadmill, with friends, at a large organized event) but for me, it’s easiest to do it on my normal trail with my normal run friends and just knock it out.  I don’t want to go too far for a training run.  I certainly don’t want to pay $$ for a training run.  I don’t need a t-shirt or medal commemorating something I’ve already done at least 25x a couple times.  I just want to knock it out and then go home and take nap with Mr. Michael

I’m lucky because I now have a local run club that likes to keep things simple.  Thank you Frankfort-New Lenox Running Club (FNRC or F’N Running Club)!  No fee to join.  No hoopla.  Just show up and run or don’t.  Our 20 miler was much of the same but we invited others who wanted a no frills training run too.  We had about 70 runners who came out in the dark to join us for a 6am start.  Great turnout because many of our club members were marathoning in other parts of the state.

group

We were fortunate enough to have a two generous sponsors to support us during the run.  Huge shout out of thanks to Berkots Super Foods and Running For Kicks for supplying apples, bananas, oranges, water, Gatorade, and GU gel!!  We also had a crew of AHHHHMAZING volunteers to cycle the route with us and staff 3 aid stations along our 10.25 mile out and back route.  

Aid Station #1 – Mile 2.89 & 17.61

Bluestone_aid station2

Aid Station #2 – Mile 6.25 & 14.25

Grainery_aid station

Aid Station #3 – Mile 9.25 & 11.25

Harlem_aid station

Finish Line Aid Station

Finish_aid station

I personally had a great time at our 20 miler although I “might” be biased.  Smile  I loved seeing all people who came to run with us!  I tried to talk to as many groups as I could and really just enjoy the day.  We had perfect 45 degree weather that held on during most of the run.  I loved the out and back route on Old Plank Trail that allowed me to cheer on our fasties and those behind me too.  It was just a great day that came together perfectly thanks to the generosity of so many who donated goods and/or time.  We even had a local CERT team out patrolling the trail and helping with road crossings.  A lot of people got out of bed early to make sure that we had a safe & supported 20 mile training run.  I’m so proud to be a part of this run club and community.  I have met so many amazing people thru running and for that I am super thankful!

I was also thankful to finish up my weekend double (Women Rock Chicago Half on SAT & the F’N 20 Miler on SUN).  Good times.   Me, Aby (who worked aid station #3) & John B at the finish.  Thanks Aby & John for waiting for me and running me in!  

Finish_me Aby John

I’d also like to send a huge shout out of thanks to my girl Lara (see her behind me in the grass in a blue top?) and her hubby Nels who I’m sure will never see this always get out of bed before dawn to help me with my really long miles.  Sunday was no different.  Nels showed up at the start and ran the first half (and then some) and Lara showed up mid run to help me thru the last 11.25 miles.   Like I said, I’ve met some amazing people thru the running community and I am not only grateful but feel very blessed.  Love you all!!

** 20 Miles Is No Big Deal When Surrounded By Friends **  Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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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. 

Life-is-not-easy-for-any-of-us

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 **

20 Miles, No Big Deal…..

20 miles?!?!  For many runners, they will run one 20 miler during marathon training.  It’s the “big” run.  The one they dread.  The one that keeps them up at night as if the last 10 long runs before this one didn’t already scare the crap out of them.  The one that seals the deal and boosts their confidence ensuring them that they CAN run 26.2 miles on marathon day.

For most of us, 20 miles is in fact a VERY BIG deal.  However, the more marathons you run, the more 20 milers you have under the belt, the less worrisome they become.  Experience negates fear.  You may not be looking forward to those 20 mile runs but they really do become No Big Deal.  Just another day.  In fact, this “training cycle” and please allow me to use the phrase very lightly because my training has been far from picture perfect, I was scheduled to run five 20 mile runs.  No big deal.  I had to shorten the cycle so five 20 milers became four.  Tomorrow will be number 3.  However, due to family circumstances, I’ve not run all 20 miles of the last two 20 mile sessions together, all at once. My runs have been split either between the treadmill and the road, with a small break in between or even possibly split by many hours, or an entire work day.  As a result, I have no idea about my current fitness level.  None.

Tomorrow I will run my first 20 miler of the year entirely on the trail.  All at once.  Good or bad.  20 miles.  Crying face

Am I worried?  Maybe.  Do I know I can do it?  Yes.  Is it going to hurt?  Most definitely.

So who do YOU call when you need a partner for 20 miles?  I actually have a name and number.  I use it sparingly.  I only break it out when I need a 20 mile run partner.  My girlfriend is an amazing runner and she is married to an amazing ultra runner.  Her run hub may not have ran in the last 3 months but I know when I shoot them a message that if they are in town, he will show up, before dawn, to run 20 miles with me before most people get up and have their coffee.  Everyone should have at least one friend like this!

So tomorrow, my girl’s run hub will be out there pounding out miles with me in the dark.  I have no idea how fast he normally runs, I just know that he never has trouble keeping up no matter how fast I go, and he never complains no matter how much I slow.  Too perfect.  He’ll probably even hand me a Kleenex when I start crying.  Then she will pop up somewhere to offer us snacks.  Too perfect.  Thanks, Lara for once again letting me borrow your running hubby.  And yes, I know that you just send him so that you don’t have to get out there to run it yourself.  Kudos, my dear.  I’ll take it and I’ll thank you for it too!!  I’ll also thank you for having a running hubby who thinks that 20 miles is NO BIG DEAL.

** Happy Running, Regardless of the Distance ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **