Today is Monday, March 29, 2010, and it is a good day for a run.

Yesterday was the culmination of week seven of the marathon training plan, and my first of three scheduled twenty-mile runs. Twenty miles is traditionally (and it holds true in my case as well) the longest mileage run in the marathon training plan, but I have never done one this early in the schedule. Hopefully adding one in at this point will help me improve on last year’s time, as I am getting more mileage in overall, with three twenty-milers instead of just two, and more of the high-mileage runs earlier in the plan.

Looking back, last week’s mileage—28 miles—was my most mileage for a week since the final week of training before taper for last year’s marathon. The run yesterday alone was my longest run since the marathon, and before that, my twenty-miler in the last week of training before the taper. In fact, my run yesterday was longer by itself than the full week’s mileage in half of the weeks of the past year. On top of that, with yesterday’s run, I have officially put in more mileage in the month of March than any month, ever. And that includes all of my training for last year’s marathon. And I still have a run tomorrow to put on top of that. If it goes as planned, I will easily break one hundred miles in a month for the first time.

So, in light of all these miles, how am I feeling? Not bad, truth be told. I was a little sore today, but nothing major. I’m going up and down stairs without issue, which was more than I could say after my twenty-milers last year. I’m all-around feeling fairly strong and healthy and confident, knock wood. I’m not feeling especially fast, but that I think will come around. I need to be patient and remember that even though I could probably run the marathon in two weeks, I actually still have two months of training left to go.

The run yesterday turned out fine. That’s easy for me to say now, because, I’ll admit, by the end of it, I was hurting. I mean, that’s to be expected; running twenty miles is hard. But in retrospect I feel positive about it. I wasn’t intimidated by it when I was starting out; I didn’t feel like I was going to break any records, but I felt capable. The first third or so I didn’t have any problems, and I was just putting in the time and covering ground. By the time I to the halfway point however, I was having an issue. A specific issue that was really starting to throw me off. And that issue was that I really had to pee.

I’ve had to pee on runs before, but usually they aren’t this long. And usually, even if I feel the urge, I can hang on until I know I’m going to come to a public restroom or porta-potty, or even the finish. But this one I knew that I wasn’t going to definitely come across anything like that for seven or eight miles. This was going to be a problem. When I got to the midway point I considered that I should take some salt, or eat something, but I didn’t feel like it because my bladder was full and was encompassing my entire focus. Now, you may be saying, “just find a bush and go.” Normally, I would agree with you. But this was a beautiful spring day, and I was on bike paths, and every biker in the city had just gotten their bikes out of storage and was going for a ride. There was zero chance that I was going to be able to do that without being seen. It’s not that I have a problem with someone potentially taking a peek at me, it’s more that I don’t want them to think I’m some transient jerk or perv who just pees in public all the time. If I had a discreet, sanitary, and (ahem) legal option, I would take it, no problem. But I didn’t. so when I finally found a place that along the path but not on it, in a densely vegetated but easily accessible area that provided sufficient cover, I took it. And I felt much better.

After I got that out of the way, I was back on course, but both my mental plans and my nutritional plans were just thrown off. I proceeded to take some salt, and have some food (fruit leather this time) but it kind of felt like it was coming late. Whether or not it actually was is debatable, but because it felt that way, it affected me like it was. I started to lose a little confidence and my mind started to focus on my fatigue. I told myself that my legs were still fine, and it was just my mind that was getting fatigued, and that I needed work through it in my head and my legs would take care of themselves.

After about three-quarters through, I hit my last refueling checkpoint and got a banana that I had placed in advance. That helps both mentally and physically, and although I wasn’t exactly hungry, the banana tasted good once I was eating it. One of the things that I was a bit concerned about planning this run was that I was finishing up on a long stretch that I finish on a lot, so I know it well and it is not the most entertaining stretch of road; a lot of straight, flat, and not much to look at. Those last few miles on runs like these are almost all mental because it’s more a matter of convincing your body to keep going when everything is telling you to stop, than it is actually having the physical strength to do it. By the last mile, pretty much everything hurt at least a little. But I kept the mantras going in my head: “Twenty miles. You are doing it. Right now. It is not just a number, it is something you are doing, at this moment. You are accomplishing it.” And then when all else fails, there is the one universal runner’s mantra: “finish line”.

And I finished. One down, two to go.

Long, Run | Tags: ,

Write a comment!

Comment feed for this post