Saturday, July 10, 2010

Recognize Your Victories - Best 20 miler ever

The 20 mile run is significant. For many people, particularly those training for their first marathon, it is the closest they will glimpse at the 26.2 distance, only to know that there is still the unknown 10k, only to be revealed on race day. Some will perhaps go up to 22 miles, or run the 20 miler more than once, but regardless of how often it is done, running 20 miles is not just an ordinary long run. I prepare for it differently than I do for 10, 13.1, or even 18. I eat a little different, I fuel a little different on the run, and mentally I enter some sort of alternate state standing at the beginning of my 20 mile journey.
I got up at 4:15, and was out the door by 5:15. No worries about lots of traffic! Within a mile of beginning, it started to sprinkle, which was a welcome sensation, given the heat the Northeast has been experiencing all week. Last week's "failed" long run was still on my mind. In sum, I had to cut it from 18 to 15 (too hot) and slow my pace. I made up the mileage later in the week, but was still disappointed in myself. I knew I made the smart decision to cut it short, but for me, a shortened run throws thoughts of doubt into my head. So, today I was seeking redemption, and certainly not a repeat from last week.
So, the fact that it was 70 and raining was perfect. It was soft and gentle as it hit the trees. I also happen to love the sound of cars driving on a wet road, so the sound accompanied me and added a sense of relaxation to the run. The opening miles tick off nicely, and I turned at mile 5 to see dark clouds of black and grey in the sky. Please don't be a thunderstorm, please don't be a thunderstorm, I thought, I don't want to have to call this off. It began to pour and pour, but no signs of lightning. I was soaked within minutes, but once over the initial wetness, that's it, you're wet and that's it. Saw a few runners at this point, and yelled out that I was glad not to be the only one out. At mile 12, things started to click. Even with 8 miles to go, I knew this was definitely going to be doable. And, I was picking up my friend Jenny at mile 15.5, so I only had a few "lonely" miles to go. That sensation of possibility is incredible. I understand that in part it is a chemical reaction, but to be self-assured in the ability to complete a challenging task is a major high. I "picked up" Jenny, and came flying in like I had run 3, not 15. She asked how I felt, and I said great, ready and excited for the final stretch. I couldn't really contain my excitement about how I felt, particularly in comparison to last week. With 2 miles to go, the shirt came off a la Brandi Chastain.
Finishing the run was exhilarating. I whooped with Jenny, happy. I finished strong, with no doubt in my mind that I could run farther today and faster if need be. Some may not understand why I would get up before dawn on the weekend to run 20 miles, but that sensation of accomplishing something definitely is worth it.
Joan Benoit Samuelson said "Recognize your victories." Today was one of those victories.

1 comment:

  1. Nice! I really like how you convey your experience. I like your experience, too! :D