The Thing About 20 Milers…

For me 20 milers have been the big bad wolf of any marathon training cycle.

Prior to this year, I’ve run 20 miles or more about 4 times in my life. I realize that sounds a little crazy, but 2 of those were my 2 prior marathons. And when you think about it, that’s kind of crazy.

Friends ask me a lot if it makes me nervous to only run 20 miles before a marathon. It doesn’t (anymore). Honestly, it makes me nervous just to run 20 miles!

Yesterday was my second 20 mile long run of this training cycle. It went better than I could have possible hoped.

I’ve been working with a coach since March, and I can’t say enough amazing things about Mollie. Not only is she an amazingly accomplished runner, she’s been a great coach for me. She’s encouraging, and she’s built me a plan that has worked well for me (even while I’ve been working 11p-7a for a majority of my marathon training) If you’re in the market for a coach, I highly recommend checking her out!

In the past, running 20 miles has felt like a struggle. I often feel like the last 5 or so miles are a struggle. I can’t find the energy to do anything afterwards. I feel sore and tired immediately. This wasn’t the case with this 20 miler (or the previous 20 miler although that one was run in 80 degree weather with 90% humidity, so the weather had its effects!). I practiced my race fueling strategy – a bagel with butter before my run and one salted caramel gu every 45 minutes with water during my run. That seems to be the PERFECT strategy for me. I never felt my energy level dip and I was able to maintain a 10:03 average pace per mile. That didn’t feel crazy fast. I didn’t feel exhausted after. I have some slight lower back soreness today, but that’s about it!

To say this 20 miler was a huge confidence boost is an understatement. Being able to run 20 miles and feel like I could have run 10 more, is HUGE. The Chicago Marathon is in 3 weeks. I feel like I will be peaking right at the perfect moment to set a PR. I’ve got a new fire in my belly to run this thing, have fun on the course and just see what I can do out there.

Running is weird. It’s weird when you tell friends that you’re running 20 miles over the weekend, for fun. I have found that there is something oddly spiritual about running. You are out on a trail, appreciating the beauty of the world and your ability to surpass your own expectations.

I am SO looking forward to October 11th!

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