Can it really be?? I ran 20 miles???!!! My longest run of all time ever!
Last Saturday was an absolute beautiful day! We headed up to run at Brown Mountain Beach as we have done in the past. It's a great spot for a good long run. The course is gently rolling and mostly packed dirt/gravel road. I think it is a great road to condition our legs and feet and mind for running various surfaces. The Asheville Marathon is also varying surfaces, some pavement some gravel road.
Carly, my marathon training partner, and I were joined this run by another friend Kim. We all met up at my house and then rode together to the starting spot.
We were a little uncertain as to the weather. It was cool that morning but looked like it would really warm up later in the day as we were running! I opted to stay in my tank and running tights and hope for the best.
We set out and the course was incredible as we already knew it would be. Running these long miles puts me deeper in touch with the earth. I feel incredible on this course, so connected to the ground beneath me, to the air around me and to the water beside me.
We ran out 11 miles which was "just ahead around that curve" then "ok maybe it's just ahead around that next curve" lol!! We then turned back to complete the 20 mile run. We planned as usual to stop at 20 and then walk a cool down mile at the end.
At mile 10/11 we met four other runners also from our town who were out marathon training! We ran and talked with them for a bit, stopped and fueled up and then went on our separate ways.
At about mile 14/15 I am not sure what happened to me. I felt very suddenly super hot, as if my legs were filled with lead and as if I was running in sinking sand. Was that "The Wall"? Oh man the struggle was really real and I was starting to feel disappointed in myself. My girl Carly, always the encouraging one, said "Let's get up ahead to the restrooms and fuel up REALLY well". She sure knows her stuff when it comes to marathoning... Up ahead about a mile from where we were (seemed like 40 miles from where we were to me) would be the visitor center with great bathrooms and a great covered porch. We'd get to potty, refresh, refuel and take relief from the sun. It was just what I needed and I felt pretty amazing after that! Picking up pace, I managed to run the last 5 miles faster than most of the previous 15 miles, and finishing that course strong!
We ran along the rest of the course still pretty hot, the sun was beaming down, the temperature was by now about 80-85 degrees and there was no solace of a tree canopy of shade that we had hoped for.
I am still learning all things marathon and I am still uncertain as to what to expect come race day. I am working HARD to stay out of my head about pace. I am reminding myself constantly that I really have no idea what that day will be like. I have run the half before but never the marathon course. I want to not set up these great expectations and then for some reason not meet them. That would be very deflating for me. My goal is to finish. I don't want to set up a time goal other than beat 6 hours. We ran this 20 miler in 4 hours. So I feel certain I can knock out another 6 miles and finish the marathon in under 6! Anything more than that will be the icing on my cake!!
Speaking of cake, in addition to this being our longest training run it was also Carly's birthday!! We surprised her after the run with a picnic on the rocks by the creek. It was so refreshing to slip our shoes off and walk around in the freezing cold water and hang out for a bit in the sun celebrating our friend!
So far one of my favorite things about marathon training has been all the different places we have run! We have another big adventure planned for this weekend too and I cannot wait! More to come...
Many Happy Miles!