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Monday, January 11, 2016

First twenty in a billion years

I can't remember the last time I did a 20 mile training run. I'm pretty sure it was before Boston 2012, and it included a 10k race tossed in the middle of it (which was a really terrible idea, for those of you planning to pull such a stunt).
But this weekend, I got my twenty done, and I have to say - it felt great! I almost always struggle during 20 milers - I get bored, I get sore, I hit the wall. For someone who is clearly better at the marathon distance than any other, I sure am bad at long runs. But Saturday, it all worked out.
Twenty miles.
Twenty-five hill repeats sandwiched in the middle.
Five mile fast-finish.
2:35:20 for a 7:45 average pace.
What you wear on a long run
in NOLA in January!

It was thundering and pouring when I got up, so I tried to wait it out, but finally left the house in the rain. Before the run I had about 1/4 cup of white rice with salt (just a few bites; I keep a pot of cooked jasmine rice in the fridge most of the time since David and I are big rice eaters). I'm trying to figure my stomach and fueling out. The first three miles were dreadful - rain, puddles, and way hotter than I thought: I'd worn a long-sleeved shirt. I knew that wasn't going to be a good idea, so I detoured home at mile 4. 8:02, 8:02, 8:15, 8:10 - slow start, as intended.
I tossed my shirt and, as an afterthought, grabbed four gummy peaches left over from gingerbread house decorating (I know. I should throw those out). I'd eaten them all by mile 10 - early for me, but it worked today. I just checked and four peaches ~100 calories.

I did my usual hill repeats when I got to the levee: a total of 25 up and down nonstop, with sets of 5 or 10 broken up by flat sections between each "hill". By the time I got off the levee, I was halfway done. I did some running in the park and planned to get back on the levee for a few miles before doing a fast finish in the park. I took 1/3 of a gel at mile 12.5, planning to take more at 15 and 18, which would align with water fountains.
Levee hills and park plus back on the levee: 7:37, 7:48, 7:48, 7:54, 7:59 7:57, 7:50, 7:43, 7:50, 7:47

Problem: It was windy on the levee and I didn't hear my Garmin beep! I finally looked down and it was mile 14.5 - so I had already missed my turnaround point at mile 13, plus I botched my first mile of "fast finish". But it was pretty up on the levee: the river is really high right now, and all kinds of waterfowl were paddling along the batture, so I decided to keep going. This meant I'd take some gel without water, so - risky. But I did it anyway. At this point, I had a tailwind, but at mile 16, I turned around into a headwind. Around 17.5 I had to get off the levee and back on St. Charles Avenue, which helped with the headwind, but meant I was back to dodging puddles and tourists on messed up sidewalks. Finally I made it to Audubon park and the closest fountain for the last of my gel and some water before heading home. 7:46, 7:18, 7:24, 7:29, 7:18, 7:23.

I finished feeling pretty good, not even hungry, so I think one gel and four peaches did the trick! It felt so nice to be able to force some faster miles at the end. I am sick and tired of gasping for breath and feeling my heart hammer away, only to see 8:05 on my Garmin. This almost - ALMOST - felt like the old Grace, with the exception of my right hip constantly falling out of place. Hey, I said "almost". I'll take what I can get.


  1. Nice job! That is a really solid run which must give you extra confidence for the marathon. I'm glad you figured out a fueling solution that worked for you. Have you ever tried huma gels? I switched to those last marathon training cycle and like them way better than the gus. They are made with chia seeds and other natural products and they taste less super sweet.

  2. Amazing! I did an 18 yesterday and it was pretty much the opposite of your run, a slow painful slog toward the end, but done nonetheless!

  3. ***bowing with respect*** That's me doing the Wayne's world "We're not worthy" bow.... Your training run, sounds like one of my half marathon races... You are a machine!
    You weren't kidding when you said, that you are better at the long distances.
    BTW-Gummy peaches are like my favorite candy as well.

  4. Sounds like a great run to me. 20 miles is a big one. 20 miles with hill repeats in the middle - respect!

  5. 20 miles - ahh, you're back. I have a thought about nutrition. Have you ever had onigiri - Japanese rice balls? Sticky rice, salted, with whatever fillings you please. Pack 'em down tight and they're portable.

    1. YES, I have! I used to eat rice balls with plum filling as a portable snack all the time - and while running, I used to make my own "gels" by mashing salt and rice together in a baggy (oatmeal also works ok). I haven't done that this time around because I am trying to reacquaint my digestive system with gels prior to race day.

  6. Nice one! Sounds like you're on track for a fabulous marathon. :)

  7. 20 miles is solid - and definitely means MARATHON training. Definitely with a nice fast finish at the end. Strong work!