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Day 86-Long Run-of 112 #20&done, #epiphanyrun

Holy Cow! There are so many other hash tags to describe my LAST/FIFTH 20-MILE RUN OF OUR TRAINING SCHEDULE (Woo too!):

  • #out2fast
  • #tapped@10
  • #couldabeentheheat
  • #don’tcareabouttime@thispoiont
  • #gladtoberunningalone
  • #marvelouslessonlearned
  • #i’mokwithit

And those seven items above pretty much sum up how I was feeling over the course of the run.

As you know, I learned on Thursday that I would be running solo on Friday.  My fabulous husband, Doug, was so uber fabulous that he started asking around to see if there were people who would be interested in biking with me during the run.  He told them it was 20 miles and would be about four hours, and our dear friend Chuck White stood up and volunteered!

Chuck White with his “trike” and me at 6:09 a.m. getting ready to hit the road.

Over the course of the 20-mile run, I saw Chuck a few times, but he basically did his thing and I did mine, which was really nice.  I had come around to liking the idea of running by myself for two reasons:  1) I had never run 20-miles all by myself before and 2) I feel like I have come so far as a runner since last October when I started running with Christy and I wanted to see what I was made of/what I really had/what I could really do. And my lesson learned was NOT what I could do but what I COULD NOT do and that was-I can not go out too fast.  Priceless.

On Thursday’s tempo run, we averaged a pace time of 9:21, FOR 8 MILES.  And somehow, I thought I was going to be able to translate a 9:21 pace for 8 miles into a 9:21 pace for 20 miles!  That is hilarious isn’t it!?!?  I know, I’m laughing so hard I’m “this close” to peeing my pants as I think about it….in hindsight.

I was spending a lot of time looking at my watch because it was the first time I was running by myself and my pace time would be totally on me-there was no one else to set the pace or to monitor my pace.

Each time I looked down at my watch I was seeing pace times like 9:02, 8:56, 8:32, 9:21, 9:15, 9:19, and so I decided I wanted to keep my pace times at about 9:20.  Like I said, I did it for 8, so I was pretty sure I could do it for 20.  Ha ha ha ha ha.  Yeah, not so much.

Mile 6. First stop for fuel, water, and salt pills. Overall time at this point about 55 minutes. Pace time was 9:12. I was feeling great!

Chuck and I weren’t together at this point.  I saw him circling around at Briarwood mall, I saw him head north on S. State, and I saw him on S. State at the University of Michigan Union, at which point he said, “You are flying.” And at which point I responded, “I know.” Because I was.  And I was feeling good.

#tappedat10, #couldabeentheheat
I decided prior to the run, that I was only going to stop by GPS/timer when I stopped for fuel.  If I stopped to walk, or wait for traffic, I was going to let it keep going, which is not normally what I do.  So I’m at the intersection of Glen and Depot Street and I run into a traffic situation and I have to stop running, but the GPS timer keeps going.  At the next block/intersection Fuller and Maiden Lane, more traffic.  More stopping.  When I start again, I figure I’ve lost about 30 seconds and I start running to make up the time.  So even though my pace times at this point are 15:00, 12:56, 11:10, 10:30 I’m running much faster than that, I have to be to be knocking those pace times back.  So despite these longer pace times, my next mile is 9:22.  So I’m happy about the time but I’m heading towards UM North Campus and it’s starting to get hilly.  And UM North Campus is going to be my biggest hill.

As I turn to head north into North Campus, I see Chuck at the base of Bonisteel and I am feeling tired and I’m breathing heavy.  Mile 9 hits in the middle of Murfin.  Mile 8 was at 755 feet (elevation above sea level) and Mile 9 was 844 feet-and I still had 88 feet in elevation to go to reach my peak of the run at 9.75 miles, which was basically, in hindsight, the beginning of the end of the run, so to speak.

Me and Chuck White at the Shell Station for more fuel.  Mile 9.something, which was Christy’s mile 15 yesterday. Pace time for mile 9 (heading uphill on Bonisteel and Murfin) was 9:55 (slowest pace time of the day…so far).

When we took off from the Shell station on Plymouth, we headed UP HILL, again, up Broadway.  I was really surprised at how hard these steps were for me. I get to the top and then I start to coast DOWN Broadway.  Normally, this would feel glorious to me, but today I was just using it to recover. I had some pace times in the 8-minute range so I was hoping that mile 10 would be a pretty decent pace time.

  • Mile 10 pace time: 9:51
  • Miles 6-10 pace time: 9:40
  • 10-Mile split time pace: 9:23

At this point, with a 9:51 pace for mile 10 (despite a long run DOWN Broadway) and the fatigue that is taking over my body, I realize that I for sure went out to fast and the heat that I am feeling is definitely playing a part.

When I stopped for my first break at 6 miles, I was thinking I would also stop at miles 12 and 18.  When the Shell station ended up being prior to mile 10, I decided I would stop at mile 16.  At about mile 12, I was overwhelmed at the thought of running four more miles without stopping.  So I didn’t. I stopped.  I walked.   Now, Christy and I have stopped and walked during our longer runs but not with the GPS/timer running and not for up to a minute.  I started back up again and I was exhausted.  I really wanted to quit, and I thought about this.  If I was running this same run with Christy, i.e., struggling but she was physically with me, the idea of quitting wouldn’t even pop into my head.  The only run this year that I didn’t “finish” was when I was in Florida, without Christy.  I was hot and exhausted at that point and I was only a mile from our place and I truly believed that stopping and not running the last mile was actually in my favor–I had nothing to gain from an extra mile in the hot sun and temps in their mid 80s.  But here, it wasn’t quite in the mid 80s, and I had about 6-7 miles to go.  I just couldn’t stop.  Plus, I had made such a big deal about the fifth/last 20-mile run–I just had to do it.  So, I made the decision to do it but at that point I realized that I just wasn’t going to care about the time.  I knew I just couldn’t push myself and so why bother?  I would run and walk, as necessary, and.just.finish.

As I mentioned, I hadn’t seen Chuck for much of the route, but at this point, mile 15, he came pedaling back my way.  I suspect it is because my time had increased dramatically and he was surprised to not see me at this point.  He asked how I was doing and I said, “Not very good.”  And so he pedaled across the road from me, but with me, until we reached mile 16-the mile I thought I would never get to.  Mile 16 was 11:21, it was my slowest mile for the day, but that would quickly change.

Yes. I felt as overwhelmed and confused as I look in this photo. Mile 16. Third stop for fuel. Overall pace time for miles 10-16: 10:09; up from 9:23 at the split and 9:12 for the first six. 

After the break at 16, which was about 10 minutes and the first break I had taken for a long run since the fall in which I  I ate more fuel, took more salt pills, and realized I had finished all my water.  When I stood up, I stumbled, and a look of concern came over Chuck’s face.  I told him, “Yeah. It’s like I’m drunk.” I thanked him for hanging out and told him, “These next four miles are going to take a while.  If I see you at home, great.  If I don’t, that’s fine.  If you get there go on in and help yourself to anything you want.”  And off I went.

 #gladtoberunningalone, #marvelouslessonlearned, #i’mokwithit
As I rounded the bend on North Wagner Road and headed south towards Dexter/Ann Arbor I realized that I had absolutely NO MEMORY of how hilly this stretch was.  I was kind of shocked, but then I just decided to walk a lot of the hills.  Mile 17 pace time was 11:08 and mile 18 pace time was 12:23-the slowest mile of the day, and although it included a bit of walking (out of sheer necessity), it was 3:21 slower than my fastest mile of the day.  And I didn’t even care. And it wasn’t that I didn’t care because I was so terribly dead tired and hot at that point, although that was part of it, I didn’t care because I was so grateful to have this experience to be running alone.  If I hadn’t run by myself, I wouldn’t have gone out so fast, and if I hadn’t gone out to fast, I wouldn’t be struggling right now.  And so the marvelous lesson learned was to not go out too fast.  And that might sound silly because most runners know you can’t go out too fast, even I know that.  But what the real lesson learned was what was “too fast” was.  I didn’t really know that before.  I didn’t know what would be too fast for the runner I have currently become.

My goal pace time for the marathon is 9:44.  That will give me a 4:15 overall time.  That is what I set in January and that is what I have been training for.  And for each and every single one of my track workouts, tempo runs, and long runs I have hit my overall goal pace times.  And most of those have been LESS than 9:44.  So what I know, is that I need to run about a 9:25-9:35 during the marathon during the flat/sloped portions of the course in order to make up what will most likely be 9:44+ times on the uphill portions of the course.

Do you get how totally valuable this is???  To know this information at this point and have a game plan?  In my world, it is completely priceless!  And I never would have known that had I run with Christy because I wouldn’t have pushed myself early on, because we would have just run together.  And so, ONCE AGAIN, I am indebted to Christy P for this gift of solitude and personal reckoning. I am also grateful to her for being text-available during the run.  Texting her about my epiphany and getting moral support back from her was priceless.  I felt terrible physically but so great emotionally and I knew the physical recovery would be easier than an emotional one, and so, I was o.k. with it-with my time and with the run.

Needless to say, despite my grand running epiphany, I struggled like hell through mile 18-pace time 12:23.  It was hilly and sunny.  At mile 18.65 I stumbled upon an oasis-the Wolverine Party Store-stopped my GPS/timer and headed in for more water and Gatorade.

Fuel stop #3. Purchased large bottle of water and filled all four of my remaining bottles and drank an entire small bottle of Gatorade.  I. was. dehydrated.

Mile 18.65-after having fueled up on water and Gatorade and texting to Christy P my running epiphany, I headed back on the road with 1.35 miles left to go!

Mile 19 came in at 11:54 (I was getting faster!!!) and mile 20 was 10:29-my fastest mile since mile 14-and that felt really good!  I finished up heading downhill and east on Liberty (which accounts for some of the increased speed) and was glad to walk about 3/4 to a mile home.  My legs could use the stretch!

Here, in all it’s glory, because I’m sure all of you have actually waded through my verbose posting and have gotten to this point and want to see all the times together, are my pace times.


I have to confess that I didn’t even know what the overall pace time was supposed to be when I was running.  Found out afterwards from Christy P that it was supposed to be 9:59, so I was actually pleased that such a non speedy run was only 5 seconds off pace.

So there you have it.  My worst pace times of the year, and yet, it many ways, my best run of the year. I am grateful for the entirety of Friday’s experience and wouldn’t.change.a.thing.

Carry on, friends.  Carry on.



3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Christy P #

    Wow! Great post. I actually got emotional a few times as if I was running and experiencing your emotions myself! So glad you had the chance to figure some things out. Also glad to hear that running together is still helpful for both of us. Solo runs are great from time to time but we really are a great training match for each other. I think we came to the exaxt same conclusion: Glad to have run alone but also know we would have had better runs if we had been running together. Love you!

    May 27, 2012
  2. Emily #

    I have never thought so much about times. This is like…MATH 😉
    Good luck! – enjoy the taper!!

    May 30, 2012
  3. Yes! It is very much like math. I think if I was in Ann Arbor I would be enjoying the taper more, but some injuries and an out-of-town trip to Oklahoma is cutting into my taper enjoyment!! Nothing like a challenge! Thanks!

    June 3, 2012

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