The Amazing Perspective from 22

Happy Saturday morning, my friends!

I am still training! I have been horrible about managing my time and allotting for writing about my training, and I’ve been barely keeping my head above water, but I *am* still doing it. In fact, that’s what today’s post is all about. My biggest running achievement since I made the important decision to start running again (over 4 years ago): I ran 22 miles.

First, before I get to that, let me tell you what I’ve been doing, training-wise in the few weeks since I last posted. As I mentioned then, the 30+ mile weeks were kicking my butt. I was exhausted constantly, which made training a bit of a challenge, especially on the days when I had speed targets. I was missing the targets in a major way. I decided – after the failure of my first 18 – that I needed to change my perspective a little. I’ve shifted my focus from target paces and finishing all the prescribed runs as written to just maintaining 30 mile weeks (minimum) until this plan ends next week. I’ve been hitting all the longs and attempting speed workouts, but supplementing easier runs for the other two runs in the week and I feel like my body is finally getting used to this level of running. I feel much better during my runs… though, one draw back I’ve noticed (and discussed as recently as yesterday) is that my body considers the first 4-5 miles a “warm up” which means I am finding it more difficult to enjoy the 4-5 mile runs now. I also got a little lax on my ab workouts and that became apparent during my 22-miler, so I’m getting that routine set again.

This training plan ends next weekend. I’m going to celebrate by attempting to break my Half Marathon PR (currently 1:51:13) in Savannah. After that, I’m going to take my “recovery” weeks (3) where I’ll start back at 23 miles the first week (my average before starting the training plan) and then add 3-4 miles a week to increase to 30 again, and maintain at least 30 during the beginning of the second time I do the plan until the prescribed mileage exceeds 30 (around week 6 if my memory serves me). I’m hoping this will make it easier to get through weeks 10-14 next time I do it. And… who knows… maybe I’ll actually hit pace targets?!?!? A girl can dream…

Now… let’s talk about the 22. I got varying opinions on whether or not to do this distance in training. Many of my multiple-marathoner friends strongly advised against it. It opens you up to injury and it doesn’t give you additional fitness – they are right about that. I had others who said do it – mentally, it might help me better decide my strategy for finishing the race and understanding my limits – they are right about that. After evaluating all sides and talking to several people about it, I decided on doing the 22, since I had extra time for recovery (my full isn’t until April, so I have 6 months to go). Another deciding factor was: that’s what my long-run buddy was doing. Although the vast majority of my training runs have been solo, I did manage to find a running buddy for my longs (thank God). He’s a family friend who I’ve known for years that had just recently added a full marathon to his bucket list and is on a similar schedule to mine and runs around the same pace as me, so it worked perfectly. He and I talked about doing a 22 miler, and eventually he decided that is what he was going to do, so I decided now was as good of a time as any to get it done.

I don’t regret this decision one bit.

We didn’t have a time goal: we just wanted to put a 22 mile run in the books and call it a day, so it was slow, intentionally (at first, at least). It was a great run in the log of runs I can remember details of this year, in fact. It was perfect weather: chilly but not cold, lower humidity, partly cloudy… I couldn’t have asked for a better day from Mother Nature (though, I’m logging official requests now: can you please give my long run buddy something similar in 2 weeks when he does his full? …and me something similar in 6 months when I do mine?) The first 7 miles, I had to pee within the first 3 miles, so I was uncomfortable and ended up hauling ass toward the end of it knowing there was a bathroom (really, Tobacco Trail: you need more bathrooms along the route). After the pit stop, we went on to the mile 13 marker (a little past it, actually) and ended up almost at the end of the trail – so I can say that I’ve officially run to Durham. Weird to say that. The middle 9-16 miles, we got separated for a bit because the gu I took was kicking in, so I was a bit ahead of him – no music or anything, just me and my thoughts. Boy, there were a bunch of things swirling around in there. We made another pit stop at around mile 16, and then set off for the last 6. Miles 16-20 were great – I felt great, especially since I knew I had done 20 before and I already felt better than I thought I would. During the 20th mile, I could feel my energy level diminishing quickly… it was like the gas tank on Hondas: full, full, full, 1/2 a tank, empty. haha. Mile 21 was rough, especially after I hit 21.5, but I kept it together enough to just push to the end. When we got to 22, he had caught back up to me (managing reverse splits where I did not) and we walked it off. The best part was that the leg swell pain was minimal and lasted only a few minutes. I wasn’t the least bit sore. I had a little bit of foot pain in my left foot, but that diminished as the day went on and I haven’t had it in any other runs this week.

This knowledge has made me eternally grateful that I took this approach to training (doing the training plan twice) for my first (possibly only) full and didn’t try to wing it (like I did for all my half marathons). That would have been very ugly. I’ve also rearranged my gu strategy now. I was thinking every 7 miles (which is what I do in my half marathons), but now I’m thinking it should be every 6, so I’m going to try that strategy the next 20+ I do.

Yes, I will probably do 22-miles again. Maybe on the Full Route this time (they just announced the route!).

Let’s see… what else? Oh! I also knocked out another state in my quest for 50: Rhode Island – The Newport Half (that’s what I’m calling it, though, it is officially sponsored by United Healthcare). Beautiful course and lovely town. I got to finally meet another of my Virtual Running Club friends, which was awesome – she will be running the Full in Raleigh with me and is a bit faster than I am, so I’m excited to have a running buddy for the race itself. I need to write up the race report for that one: it was a great race and I highly recommend it. Oh, and I came within 50 seconds of beating my PR in that race. Sooooo close.  I’ve now officially completed 13 half marathons in 12 states (so far, only California, ironically, is repeated).

My next race is in 2 weeks: Rock and Roll Savannah Half Marathon in GA – making it my 14th half in 13 states. I’m also considering doing the Skinny Turkey half in Raleigh on Thanksgiving day – for no other reason than I’d like to run *with* people that day. I’m a little tired of the solo runs.  I have been running solo a lot more than I’d like. Thankfully, I have my long-run buddy (It is difficult to ask someone “hey… wanna run 20 miles today?”), but otherwise, our schedules don’t really allow for us to do all the other runs together so I do the rest alone mostly. I’ve even broken plan a few times just so I could run with someone else instead of alone because I’m not liking that part of it.

That should catch us up, in a nutshell. I will be running a shorter one today, followed by an “easy” 12 mile run with my long-run buddy on Sunday.

I can’t believe I just called a 12-mile run “easy”.

Amazing, the perspective you get when you’ve done 22.

Have a great weekend, Friends!

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