20 Miler Accomplished

After my 20 mile long run attempt last weekend I gave myself much needed grace. In the past I would have beat myself up and wonder why I even bothered. With almost ten years of marathon training experience, I knew that this 20 mile run wouldn’t be the do or die of my training. It’s definitely a confidence booster to get it done though! I was determined to give that 20 mile long run another shot.

The last-chance attempt took place on Friday morning before I went into work. Thankfully I have flexibility and great work-life balance at my job and it was okay that I went in a little later than normal. Friday morning weather was low 40s, sunny and 20 mph wind. True to Steena style, I overdressed and had to stop two miles in yanking off layers.

My long run plan was 3 mile warm up, 4 miles at half marathon race pace, 1 mile easy, repeat twice, and then three mile cool down. The route I took this plan to was the hilly loop around Lake Monona. The first set of half marathon paced four miles were felt strong and manageable. The biggest challenge was maintaining pace going up and down some of the bigger hills. I took a Gu after the first set.

The next set of half marathon paced four miles were more challenging because they were into the 20 mph headwind. It was tough and I should have noticed how much more effort and energy I put into those four miles. In hindsight, I realize that I put close to sprint energy into those miles. I took my second and final Gu after this set.

The last set of half marathon paced four miles are where I fell apart. The first split was okay, the second one was ten seconds slower, in the middle of the third one I had to stop and wonder what the hell I was doing, and then the fourth one depleted me. Three of four splits were ten seconds slower than half marathon race pace. Those splits took me far from a comfort zone and made me work. Those splits are coins in the bank. I’m proud of the effort I put into this entire long run workout.

The last three cool down miles were leisurely done with my dog Ziggy, who actually slowed me down. He’s so pokey, apparently not training for a marathon or anything.


Positive notes about the run:

  • This is my first sub three hour 20 mile run ever in the history of marathon training.
  • I learned a good lesson about pace and effort into challenging headwind– don’t burn all the matches!
  • Though I burned some matches into the headwind, I found new mental strength to power through and stay strong in less than ideal conditions on race day.

I love how this run made me feel; empowered, humbled, strong, and accomplished. It gave me a glimmer of belief in some of my crazy future dream-goals, *cough*, BQ, *cough*.

After little bit of grace, stubbornness and anti-quit I am officially marathon tapering!


One comment

  1. You are so ready to crush that 4 hour marathon goal and I’m so excited for you! I seem to burn more matches than I should when running into the headwind also…Basil had me burning all kinds of matches for the last 3 miles of our 6 mile ROTB today. Cheers to race week!! 🙂


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