When working towards a goal, there are good days, and there are bad days. Last Saturday, I completed my 20 mile training run as part of the training that I am doing for an upcoming marathon. This was the 5th time in my life that I have run that far so I wasn‘t too intimidated. Besides–my 18 mile training run had gone fantastic the week before. The weather was flawless, I felt great, nothing hurt, and when I finished I still had energy to continue to run if I really wanted to. The 20 mile run was the complete opposite. Many marathoners agree that you always need “at least one” really disastrous long training run to make it successfully through race day. Well, if that superstition is true, my race day should be heavenly. Here is a breakdown of my disastrous 20 mile training run, and how I powered through:
Miles 1-4: My teammate and I got there earlier than the rest of our team because of the high chance for early afternoon storms. We wanted to get a good 4 miles in before our official training time started. It was still dark out. It was chilly and windy. My body felt like it just wasn’t waking up. Everything in my body hurt, and I felt sluggish and slow. I was hydrated, slept well, and ate a good breakfast, but something was just off from the beginning. It typically takes me 3-5 miles to warm up, and feel the adrenaline, so I chalked it up to a typical slow start. Something about mile 3 made me think that the run would get better. Maybe it was because the sun was coming up and the pink, and orange reflection on the lake was blindingly beautiful.
Miles 5-7: I was grateful my marathon training buddy had things to talk about to distract me, because I was too busy focusing on negative things. Muscles were bothering me, and the sun was too hot, and too bright. The path was overcrowded with several other charity endurance training teams also doing their 20 mile runs. It felt like every 10 seconds another running group was flying past us by the hundreds, pushing us off the path, and barreling through. I was so crabby, that I think I actually yelled “HEY! This path is for EVERYONE, A-HOLES!”
Miles 8-10: I was already over it. I couldn’t believe that I was barely halfway finished. “What the heck went wrong today? At this point during the 18 miler, I was high fiving strangers, laughing out loud, and telling funny passenger stories to my teammate. Today, I feel like it’s my first time running this far, ever.
Miles 11-14: We passed a Water and Gatorade Station organized by our team volunteers. Even though I was in rough shape, seeing them perked my spirits up as they rang cowbells and cheered. I laughed about my muscles as they screamed in pain, and how ridiculous all of this was. I told my teammate that I was not going to quit, even if I had to walk the rest of the way.
Miles 15-17: I saw a dog walking with its owner. The dog had two disabled back legs and was attached to a doggie wheelchair. A squirrel came down a tree, and I saw that wheelchair sprint into action. That dog chased that squirrel as fast as any other normal dog. I laughed. For some reason the moment inspired me. I asked my teammate how many miles we had to go according to her GPS watch. She said “Just about 3 miles.” I turned on my iPod for the first time that day, looked at her, and said “Alright!–It’s battle time b*atch!” She laughed, knowing I found some deep down confidence that I would push through. A runner ahead of us turned around, also laughing, and said “OOO! I LIKE IT! YEEee-AAAH!!”
Miles 18-20: The pain was pretty awful. I was definitely feeling overheated, and like this training run would never end. My teammate stuck by my side, even when I started doing walk/run intervals. I looked at her, and said that I was hurting. I promised her (and myself) I wasn’t going to cry. Saying it out loud made me want to cry more. When we got just a half mile away from the finish, I told her to go ahead. I knew that she just wanted to power through and finish, and I was slowing her down. I put on my music, and ran slowly to the beat. I passed a little girls’ soccer league game, and got distracted. I turned to look up ahead and saw a woman, around my age, running towards me with a prosthetic leg. Her face was full of such determination. The way she swooped her hip out to bring her prosthetic around to match her other legs pace was memorizing. I yelled “20 today?” she yelled back “Yep. 3 more to go!” Again, I was inspired. I powered through to the finish and there was my team, ringing cowbells and screaming “Go Team!” A few of my teammates said, “There she is! How was it?” and I answered back “Awful. Horrible. Worst run ever. Seriously, that run was complete crap.
BUT I FINISHED.
Now someone, quick! Get me a pizza.”
Bio- Jacqueline Petzel is a flight attendant for a major airline, and theflightattendantlife.com‘s Fitness Editor. She is currently training for another marathon to help benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If you would like to contact her with questions about marathon training, fitness, or have suggestions for her Fitness Friday posts, please contact her on Facebook and Instagram as @FitFlyGal.