So on Wednesday, I mentioned an ‘xx’ mile long run that I was going to attempt to complete yesterday. I only told a handful of people how far I was planning on running because I honestly had no idea if I could even run this insane amount of miles, and didn’t want to set myself up for failure.
You see, my training plan called for a final 20-miler as my last long run. The reader and researcher I am, I had been doing a fair share of reading on marathon training and many renown coaches recommend that runners complete at least a 22-26 mile run before a marathon. I even talked with local seasoned marathoners and they said the same thing; to log at least a 22-24 miler for my final long run. This reasoning is mainly because 6.2 miles is a lot to run after you’ve already run 20 miles, and runners typically ‘hit the wall’ within one mile of their longest training run.
This all made sense. My longest training run for my first half marathon was 14 miles, .9 miles longer than the actual race. So earlier this week I was trying to plan out my route for my last super long run and hit a pickle. I love my 9.1 mile loop that I’ve been using for my 18 milers, and it was really difficult to map out 5-7 miles extra out there because the way the trails loop around. I knew my 9 mile route, I liked it, so I decided to just run it 3 times. Let’s do some math here…
9.1 mile loop x 3 loops = 27.3 miles = longer than a marathon = 44k = takes a long time to run = I am crazy.
Yes, this really happened. I didn’t really believe that I was going to be able to do it. I literally spent over 5 hours yesterday in a motion that resembled running. I still can’t really believe that this happened, except the soreness in my legs reminding me that they ran a freaking long time yesterday. The run was a process, let’s break it down a little bit:
The first 15 miles were great, honestly. I was feeling good, it was still cool outside and I have become fairly comfortable with distances in the 16-mile range. I was trying to not think about the fact that I still had 12 miles to go, which was daunting.
At mile 18 I was feeling sore, 18 miles was the longest I had ran outside before, and I was worried about ‘hitting the wall.’ But I reminded myself that this run was for that purpose; if I was going to crap out and start bawling, it would be yesterday, not on November 20th which I have been looking forward to for about 6 months now.
Mile 21.5-on was hard. Not going to lie. I started to really feel pain in my legs around mile 22. Cardiovascular wise I was fine, but my legs began to feel really heavy. Miles 22-24 d-r-a-g-g-e-d on…these were the longest miles of my life. My pace dropped by about a minute per mile average and it was hard to stay mentally strong. My feet were really hurting at this point, at times it felt like I was running on sharp pins. I alternated between praying and cursing because that’s pretty much all I could muster out.
Mile 25 was when I hit my wall. I started crying, I had been running for over 5 hours, I was in serious pain and I wanted to be DONE. Part of my crying was ‘Ohmygosh is this really happening I am running 27 miles’ and the other tears were out of frustration, impatience and anger. It hurt to lift my feet to take each additional stride, but then I made it to the 26 mile mark and could only help but think ‘THIS IS HAPPENING!’
Then it happened. I was done. I ran 27.3 miles (alone).
I took gels at miles 5, 9, 13, 18, 22 and 24. That was gourmet lunch, let me tell you. I went through about 140oz of water and water/Powerade Zero.
I’m not sure how soon I will be running 27 miles again, but I am so ready to run 26.5 in three weeks in Tulsa!
One thing I love about running is that you’re never quite the same person after a run as you were before a run. Hands down, I can say that after my run yesterday, I’m a little bit different of a person and I am thankful for that.