The last hurrah before Boston: 21 miles

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“OUCH. Running is hard. I have muscles there?! Sweet lord how can I run 5.2 more miles on top of this? I feel like death.”

What are, thoughts that were running through my head for the last 3-4 miles of my 21 mile long run on Saturday. I’ll be straight with you, it was not easy. I was pushed so far past The Wall and then some, that it left me feeling terrified for Boston.

Why scared? I know you runners know that feeling: when you’ve given everything you can, but all you see in front of you is more road and there’s nothing more you want in life than to lay down on the side of the road.
You’re not just physically cashed, but mentally you’re so emotionally drained because the pain is just enough already. You physically cannot make your legs turn over any faster than the 10 min pace you’ve slowed down to. I’m scared I’ll feel that way at mile 21 of Boston. And I really, really, really don’t want to feel that way.

But ya know what?! I did it, darn it. I ran 21 freakin’ miles! And I am proud. I’ve always said that the long runs aren’t just for physically preparing you, but for mentally preparing you too. I’m worlds stronger today after Saturday’s 21 miles. (not to mention tanner, too. woohoo for sun! bring on the summer weather!)

Despite the struggle… the great news?? My knee didn’t hurt AT all (::angels rejoicing::)! The ache I struggled through was not from my knee; it was simply from the beating my body took from 3+ hours of high altitude, high elevation gain, trail running.

I snapped this picture when we were all smiles (bahaha) right before we started:
Ahh, the giddy anticipation right before a long run :)
We ran our favorite trails, which is such a rewarding trail run when we go for >18 miles, since we reach some really neat geography. I love trail running and even though we climbed over 2,300 ft over the 21 miles, I wouldn’t trade the pain for a flat pavement run any day.
We ran far enough through the canyon that we reached a visitors center (Thank goodness). We used the bathrooms, guzzled some water, ate our GUs, filled up our water bottles, and turned around for the 10.5 mile journey back home.
It’s funny how a run can change tunes so rapidly. I was feeling fantastic at mile 16…
… then BAM. Hello, Wall. Stuff started gettin’ REAL. I knew I needed to eat a GU at mile 17 but I soooo didn’t want to. I had to force myself to eat it. I wanted gallons of water but had 5oz. instead.

By mile 18ish I was off the trails and on the paved road back to my apartment. My legs ached so much. I was beyond cashed, physically and mentally. I was using all sorts of silly mind games to keep myself from walking. I got to the top of a short but steep hill when my watch ticked over to 20 miles. I kept thinking to myself, that was just like Heartbreak Hill, I can do this. I can do this.

I ran a little bit farther, but then did what I haven’t had to do all training cycle: I walked. I took 1 or 2 minutes to walk hunched over, then I lifted my knees up and started the final mile slog home.

Now I remember feeling that exact way during my first marathon, and it was not a pretty finish. 10k is a LONG way to push through when you’ve already hit the wall. All I can hope is that a rough dress rehearsal might mean a stellar performance.

21 miles. Done and DONE! Weez and I spent the rest of the day laying on the couch, eating, drinking water, and thanking the running gods for a knee pain-free experience. I feel so lucky. I feel so proud of us. We did it, Weez! We made it through the hardest part of marathon training! I love you so much for training with me! You are my hero and I can’t thank you enough for being with me through it all!

Now that the long runs are all done, you know what THAT means…. TAPER TIME! Two beautiful weeks to shake out the legs with light, short runs. Two weeks to eat all the carbs I want. Two weeks to use “I’m tapering for Boston” as an excuse as to go to bed at 8PM.

Just two weeks till go time :)

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Beth says:

    That is an intense training run! You won’t have to deal with nearly as much elevation gain, water issues, or rough terrain at Boston. That trail does look awesome though!

  2. melon says:

    I think we need some Before/After shots from now on (well, for the next marathon/triathlon/ironmanathalon). I would LOVE to see post-20 miler pics on here. Those have character ;)

    1. Bahaha, yeaaaahhhh… ’bout that… :P Great race or not, there will definitely be before/after shots from Boston! Ohhh man!

  3. Mallory says:

    Excellent news, my friend! I am so happy for you that the pain wasn’t there. That’s great!! You are mentally strong and you WILL do this!

  4. Tara says:

    Oh girl that is awesome! I am so thrilled that you didn’t have any knee pain, I was a little concerned after your last post (yes, I’m still keeping tabs on you!).

    What a great day for a trail run, totally jealous, Saturday was beautiful.

    I can’t believe that Boston is so close, time goes by so fast! Alright then, enjoy that taper. :)

  5. Wow you are amazing!!! 21 miles is SUCH an accomplishment!!! I can’t wait to cheer for you in a few weeks!

  6. Marcia says:

    Great run! I’d say youre well prepped for Boston. Plus the amazing crowds will help push that wall way back…hopefully all the way to Boylston St! Enjoy the taper.

  7. the dawn says:

    i had the same kind of miserable feeling of death during my last 20 miler. not the best for the confidence arena…but you pulled through and exercised those mental fortitude muscles. good work for digging down deep and finishing strong!

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