Monday, August 3, 2009

Through a Wall

An oral history of the final stages of a 20-miler:

"How do you feel?" my biker companion asked me around Mile 16.

"Keh," I grunted.

"Do you feel OK?" my biker companion asked me around Mile 17.

"Geh," I gasped.

"Way to pick up the pace. How are feeling?" my biker companion asked me around Mile 18.

"Fah," I whispered.

"You're doing great," my biker companion said around Mile 19.

"Than," I huffed.

The first 10 miles on Sunday felt great. The next five miles even felt pretty good, considering I had run a 10-mile tempo run the day before (9:09 per mile; 47:04/44:22 negative split). Then, the run got hard. Very hard.

Miles 15-18 nearly broke me. I could feel my legs getting heavier with each step. It didn't help that a short stretch of the Towpath had recently been paved with asphalt, and I swear my feet were sticking to it. Every rise was a battle.

Shortly before the 18th mile marker, a pebble found its way into my shoe after I got off another paved section of the path to run in the grass (the majority of the Towpath is crushed limestone). I stopped to remove the bastard at the next bench. I didn't want to get back up.

I felt like I was running 20 miles -- after 10 miles the day before. I felt like I was running the most I'd ever run in a week, which is exactly what I was doing. I felt beat.

After removing the pebble, I had to climb up an underpass ramp. My biker companion went ahead of me to maintain momentum. I mumbled to myself like a crazy person as I charged uphill, exhaling short guttural syllables that at one time had been words.

Night was falling fast, and I did not want to be in the middle of a park in the dark. I reached the top of the incline and picked up my pace for the home stretch. Words returned to me, and I realized that was my wall.

The end of the run did not feel as triumphant as my 18-miler two weeks ago. Although my final mile felt strong, I was spent. I finished with a positive split second half (1:42:05/1:44:21). I was disappointed about falling off pace during the final 10 miles, but the overall pace was still within my goal range.

This is another step-down week before the Summer Un-Solstice Challenge on Aug. 15.

15 comments:

Mike said...

Excellent! Don't get down on yourself re: the pacing. It's training. Now rest up!

BrianFlash said...

I'm getting ready to head into the long run weeks. 16, 18, 20, 22 milers the next four weekends for me. The time on the road just sucks - talk about killing your weekend.

Great job on the run!

Nitmos said...

Nice job. Hard to FAIL a 20 miler even if it reduced you to slurred speech.

Morgan said...

I'll tell you what everyone told me after my 20 miler on Saturday... you still did it! You still ran it, picture perfect ending or not. Congrats! :)

Jess said...

I agree with Morgan, you went out and got it done. That's what counts. Nice job!

X-Country2 said...

Nice! 20 miles is a big step in training. It doesn't sound much further that 18, but it totally is, isn't it.

Spike said...

well done. I used the HH training that incorporated the 10M pace run the day before a 20M run. Hard, but it pays off at the race.

Vanilla said...

Impressive, especially considering the 10 mile tempo the day before. Impressive, or maybe crazy, I'm not sure which.

Jeff Pickett said...

I smiled for multiple reasons at your post, but mostly because I also ran a 20 miler and can sympathize with your thoughts. If it helps, we were close in our times, but you beat me by 4 minutes. So, hats off for persevering, slurring and looking like another Running SuperFan. There will be lots more like us on the trails and roads as more and more marathons take place in the coming weeks and months.

Jess said...

Getting that 20 miler done is always a HUGE accomplishment in marathon training. Nice job!

joyRuN said...

Lemme get this straight - you ran a 10mile tempo, then your 20-miler the following day?

Pretty damn good stuff.

Ms. V. said...

um. you DO rock, you know that, right?

Xenia said...

Maybe on your next 20-miler you’ll get through all of "Do-Re-Mi".

Btw, I'm impressed by your continued avoidance of gender-specific third-person singular pronouns. Masterfully executed, Tin Man. Keep up that word count.

Funnyrunner said...

damn! I wanna know who is nice enough to ride all those miles with you. It's not fair.

I'm doing a new training program that'll have me doing at least 5-6 20+ milers before the marathon, but this past week's long run was interesting. The training plan had me cut back to 16 miles, but like this: run the first 8 at "base pace," then for the remaining 8 pick up the pace each mile, then run the last mile at 1/2 marathon pace (8 min miles for me). It was tough but GREAT training. try it!

Funnyrunner said...

btw - don't you know better than to do speedwork one day and an endurance run the next day? tisk tisk.... recovery time is just as important as training time.

off the high horse now.

funnyrunner... out.