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The first 20 miler maybe the toughest. That was the topic of discussion at the end of the run as we all stood around recovering from a nice 21 mile run. I was the novice in the group as this was my longest run ever and everyone else has several marathons already under their belt (with some impressive times to boot!) I think we decided that the first one might be the hardest, but they never really get easier. Not overly encouraging as we have 2 more 20 mile runs in the upcoming weeks. But their points were well taken At this distance it is easy to have a bad day and feel it. Runs of this distance require a little more thought and preparation than an easy 10 miler. I plan to prepare well for all of my upcoming long runs!
Preparation – We spent a pretty quiet evening at home on Friday night, eating Pasta and watching the Olympics. I can’t say I hydrated excessively, but felt pretty hydrated. I actually woke up Saturday morning with “pre-race jitters.” I hit the bathroom several times and ate a bagel with peanut butter and half a bowl of oatmeal. Then I hopped on my bike and rode the 2.75 miles to where we were meeting. It was a nice easy ride on a cool (low 60’s morning).
Run Time – I loaded up my shorts with a package of cola flavoredClif Shot Blok and off we went. The plan was to take a Shot Blok every 5K. I managed to do that and felt like that was a good mixture for most of the run. We actually did take the pace nice and slow as we started out. We had a group of about 10 runners which was a nice size. We started approximately at the 1.5 mile mark of the Twin Cities Marathon. We followed the course pretty accurately hitting the official water-stop around mile 3 where I picked up some CLIF SHOT Energy Gel of the Chocolate persuasion – they offered both Chocolate and Double Expresso. They did this for all the runners about a month ago.
We made some course deviations to throw in some soft trails but hit the hills along Minnehaha Parkway so we wouldn’t be surprised by them during the race. That was actually a good thing because I didn’t realize there would be any on that part of the course, so now I can plan for them. We hit them about 7 miles into our run which places them approximately in the 8-9 mile range.
Coming back from the turn around point I noticed on my Garmin that we were in my Marathon pace range (my goal is 7:15 so Marathon Pace runs would be between 7:30 and 7:00). The pace chart shows us hitting 7-flat for a brief moment of time in the 9 mile range. I wanted to stay with the group but also knew we had a long way to go still so I was willing to let them go, knowing eventually we’d catch up. I never really got gapped by the group and had someone to run with for most of the run, which was nice!
The trails were quite crowded on our return run as many training groups were out there hitting the roads. On the return we “closed” the lakes – running around them on the opposite side so that we essentially ran around the entire thing. I started feeling bad when we got to Lake Calhoun, it had been about 5 miles since the last water stop and I was tired. I stopped to pee real quick and caught back up to the group at a water fountain.
We then swung by the Marathon Water Stop at 17.25 already 1.25 miles farther than my longest run. I grabbed 2 cups of water, a cup of Powerade, and ate a Chocolate Gu (I didn’t eat the first one). I had gotten a little hungry somewhere in the early teen miles, but not the hunger that can really be satisifed while running. I over did it at the last stop and felt it within the next mile. I was still moving along fairly well but could feel my hip flexors getting tight, my toes getting blisters, and my stomach was a little off.
I hung in there and finished at the consistent pace we had been going. I ran the last mile pretty much by myself, with a group right in front of me and a guy behind me who later said, “My GI tract finished the run before I did.”
Reflections – Those are my thoughts from my first 20+ mile run. Here are my take-aways:
- Eat a bigger breakfast,
- Don’t try to “cram” for the final miles,
- Be consistent with nutrition on the run,
- Steady pace throughout the run, try to avoid spiking the pace,
- Relax and have fun!
Here is a list of my mile splits if you care! Oh, I guess I should note that my Garmin had the run at 20.5 miles but pretty much everyone agreed that it was at least 21.
- 3:52 (8:07 pace)
[tags] Running, 20 miles, Reflections [/tags]