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20 miles were a lot different than I expected.

So finally I ran a 20 miler. I didn’t know what to expect, and to finish was not what I expected at all. I still can’t believe I actually did it. Part of me thinks that little Claude was lying to me, like my nike plus used to, the little cheater, but alas 20 miles down in the books. So I don’t want to toot my own horn and I know some of you run this all the time, but it was a big first for me, and there were a lot of things that happened on the way that I knew I would HAVE to share with you guys.

The night before I just kept telling myself that I could do it. I wasn’t scared of it, and I knew if I had to walk, crawl or slog my way through it, I could at least try. I got up at 6 am and wanted to take off at 6:30. I had a muffin, three shot blok and got my fuel belt ready. I packed in three bloks to have at the 4 miler make. It started off great. I was really amp’ing myself up over it. I kept telling myself that I COULD do it, and I WOULD do it. Repeating something in your head is really helpful. I was going to run an 8 mile loop, a 4 mile loop the opposite way, and then the 8 mile loop that I ran earlier. Each end of the loop was going to pass by my house because I hadn’t had time to get the extra pouch for my fuel belt yet so I was just going to grab my gus from home.

The farthest I’ve ever ran before this weekend was only about 17.6 miles, and there were a lot of breaks in between since I ran the 10k and ran to the starting line and home after. I started off wearing my arm warmers, shorts and a t-shirt. I felt very good for the first 7 miles. I didn’t look down at Claude to see my pace, I just let myself go, and enjoyed the fresh beginning of a new day. I was instantly in the ‘zone’ and every mile ticked down I just though to myself, “Okay, that’s only 18 left, now 17 left, now 16 left.” I ate shot bloks at mile 4, this was of course when a nice old guy was running by me and he said hello. I was half chewing, half choking, half trying to breath and I mumbled/drooled out a hello back. He probably thought I was some crazy freak.

It was during this time when I started to imagine myself running a full marathon. I started to think of what I was going to wear on race day, what it would be like to cross the finish line. I started to think about all the girls I’m going to be running with from San Fransisco and Oregon, and how excited I am to see everyone and what a great weekend it will be. Then I started to think, well this is my FIRST marathon, I feel like I should dedicate this to someone. I thought about making a shirt that said, “In memory/honor or something along those lines, of my Mom.” I thought about putting a picture on the shirt, what I would want it to say. Then I started thinking about this more and more, and I thought about well if I ever make it to Boston, I would much rather dedicate that race to her, or the race I BQ at to her, and I don’t know if I want a shirt with her picture on it, or people to feel bad for me, etc. etc. Then my thought process changed to something else and I forgot about that.

Once I got to 8 miles I had to RACE to the bathroom back at my house. I realized this could be an issue, we are going to have to work on that. Then I got three more shot blok and took off again. While at home I also took off my arm warmers. I felt good on the 4 mile loop still and kept counting down the miles. For the first 8+4 loops I didn’t listen to music and just enjoyed my run, not caring about my pace. There was one spot where it smelled like a heap of dead fish, and another where it smelled so strongly of bacon. I realized I cannot smell things on my run or they make me gag. I thought I was going to throw up during these smelly points. There was a huge 177 mile relay race going on and I would smile at the racers walking or running by and sometimes encouraged them with something random like, “Way to go!” I’m so original, I know. They were running from Santa Barbara to Dana Point in relay teams. That was kind of exciting.

After four miles, I stopped at home and went to the bathroom yet again. I made sure both my ‘home’ stops were only three minutes. I took yet another gu and took off to finish this run. At this point it was pretty hot out so I decided to brave the elements and run without a shirt. That is the only way I’m getting back in shape. If I run without a shirt then I feel like I have to do extra sit ups. :) I grabbed my ipod for this last loop of the run as well because I knew this was going to be where I needed distractions. I took off and was into my run about 13 miles. Then in the distance I saw a huge crowd of walkers on the beach path. I knew this wasn’t just a random group of walkers, but it had to be yet another organized event. I was interested to see what it was again. I got closer and closer, and realized it was the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. After a little research this morning I realized it wasn’t the actual walk, but a Training Mock Walk, but still everyone was wearing pink and excited to be out and walking and raising awareness to breast cancer on this Saturday. It looked like it could be the real walk there were so many people.

Unexpectedly, I all of a sudden felt my heart start to burn with a familiar hurt, and my breathing was hard. This is when I lost it. I started crying. It was mile 14, I had 6 more to go and I was crying while running next to these walkers. My nose was sniffling and I was just looking down and reminding myself to keep going. To keep putting one foot in front of the other one. They were walking against the route I was running and all saw me crying while running along. Though I had my music on I could hear my breathing and it was weird like shallow wheezing.

I had done the Avon 3-day walk when my mom was still alive my junior year in High School. I had worn the pink gear, I had walked the 60 miles, and my mom (and entire family) were there supporting me through the entire thing. It was a great experience and seeing these women walking was just inspiring and it reminded me so much of my mom it turned me into a wheezing/running/crying mess.

I kept telling myself to suck it up and stop crying, but I couldn’t. It was a weird weird mile. I hate crying in front of other people and I just took some deep breaths and kept running. I remember feeling a tear go down my cheek and I thought to myself, really, REALLY you are seriously CRYING?! Then, just as quickly as I started choking up, I stopped crying and was okay to finish the run. The last 6 miler were good. It was once I got to mile 17, I was hurting, my butt was killing me. I have never even felt pain in my butt when I run at all. I got back to my house and thought about my run. I had completed it, I had broke down in the middle and still kept going. Sometimes that’s all you need to keep going. I took an ice bath and then showered and laid in my bed for some time watching the Penn Relays and the NFL draft.

I think it reminded me so much of my mom and how she would be so proud of me for running a full marathon. It reminded me so much of how many people are affected by breast cancer, and how many people we need to find a cure for. I’m sure people were like WHAT IN THE WORLD IS WRONG WITH THIS GIRL. When you are tired, and running, and crying, it’s hard to breathe.

Doing this run brought so many emotions out, looking back on it now, I would have NEVER expected that something like that would remind me of my mom, none the less make me cry and break down in the middle of a long run. It also made me realize that I can run a full marathon. I was beginning to get nervous and I know the brutalness of a full marathon doesn’t even come until the 20th mile, but you know what, bring it on. If you go in with the attitude that it’s going to be too hard, that you won’t like it, that it’s going to stink, that you’re hurt, that you can’t do it, guess what…

It is going to be too hard, you won’t like it, it is going to stink, you will be hurt and you won’t be able to do it.

I’ve played this mental game with myself, and almost got caught up in it again last night. Sunday after the 20 miler was my scheduled rest day and last night when I got home it was cold. I was exhausted and didn’t want to run, but decided to go out to ‘loosen up’ I planned to run a four miler but when I started I was incredibly sore. I didn’t even realize how sore I was. I told myself that I HAD to do four miles, and that if they were slow or fast they were going to get done, so I ran 2 miles out away from my house so I couldn’t go back after two miles. After the first mile, I had gotten rid of my sore stiffness and was chugging along and knew that I would be fine for four miles. So fine that my last mile was 7:45. I had to allow myself a chance for success.

The two weeks leading up to my 20 miler, I probably put in about 8 miles in each of those weeks. Believing in yourself works wonders. Running is hard, it’s just a mental game of pushing yourself to your personal limit. It’s not easy, but no one ever said anything that was worth it was easy. Allow yourself to succeed.


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  • Reply Donald

    Way to knock out the 20-miler! That’s a big milestone. It sounds like you’re quickly figuring out the mental aspect of distance running as well. That will carry you a long way.

    April 28, 2009 at 12:52 pm
  • Reply Kristi

    Congrats on your 20 miler, that is amazing!

    I am just starting to do 5K’s and your blog is so inspiring!

    Good luck at the marathon!!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:01 pm
  • Reply L. Elizabeth

    congratulations! thats awesome.
    I have my first 10 mile race this weekend and i am nervous but excited.

    way to go!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:18 pm
  • Reply emily_howard

    Wow, you rock girl! That is so awesome that you pushed yourself through the 20 miles, you can do anything and I am sure your Mom would be sooooo incredibly proud of you!

    April 28, 2009 at 1:23 pm
  • Reply Kim

    YAY for you!! You did awesome!

    Isn’t it amazing what some long miles will do to your emotions?? This week I’ll be running my 20th marathon and I have gotten emotional during almost all of them at some point during the race.

    You have SUCH a great attitude. You are going to ROCK your marathon. It’s SO MUCH about the ‘tude and you already have that pegged!

    April 28, 2009 at 2:06 pm
  • Reply Stuart

    Great job! Remember the first 20 miles you run with your body, the last 10k you run with your heart, and you heart is way big enough!

    Two weeks to go keep smiling and don’t panic!

    April 28, 2009 at 2:15 pm
  • Reply Kristen

    Great job on your first 20!! I have my first this Sunday and I am little nervous but it is all mental.

    You will do great in SD!

    April 28, 2009 at 2:19 pm
  • Reply Janice {Run Far}

    Great job.

    A few years ago while training for the Salt Lake City marathon I was running my first 20 miler with my sister and by the time I got to mile 19 I sat down and cried on the curb… I was so done… I couldn’t imagine how I was going to make it back to the house. after about a min, my sister looked and me and said ” are you finished?” I said “Yes” and off we went… best mile of the entire day.

    April 28, 2009 at 2:23 pm
  • Reply d.a.r.

    You are really amazing.

    April 28, 2009 at 2:52 pm
  • Reply Oz Runner

    way to go on the 20-miler! that is a long way to run, and a big milestone, you should be very proud…that marathon better look out when it sees you coming!

    April 28, 2009 at 3:00 pm
  • Reply Susan

    Congrats on your first 20 miler! That’s so awesome that you were able to push through all the emotions and finish so strong. 7:45 is an awesome mile time! I can’t wait to hear about your marathon finish!

    April 28, 2009 at 3:02 pm
  • Reply joyRuN

    The 20-milers get better from here :)

    Profound & excellent post, girl!

    Great job!!

    April 28, 2009 at 3:17 pm
  • Reply Natalie D

    You did great on the 20! nice job!

    April 28, 2009 at 4:24 pm
  • Reply FLYERS26

    Awesome job !!!
    20 miles is quite an acomplishment, especially if you haven’t been putting in the miles prior to it.

    April 28, 2009 at 4:25 pm
  • Reply Amber

    Way to go!

    This post is so inspiring!! I felt a lot of emotions when I ran 12 miles a couple of weeks ago (the run that made me realize I CAN complete the half-marathon). I’m so glad you managed to get through it and complete it, and then run another four miles the next night!! Good job!

    April 28, 2009 at 5:09 pm
  • Reply h-bomb

    Congrats! 20 is amazing. p.s. having to stop for potty breaks is my greatest fear. I’ll never be able to do a marathon based on that alone.

    April 28, 2009 at 5:09 pm
  • Reply Mrs. G.I Joe

    Wow, you are so focused and motivated! Your going to be great in that marathon girl:)

    April 28, 2009 at 5:19 pm
  • Reply kristen

    Running can make me emotional too. I am so proud of you for sticking with it. I’m sure your mom was working through you and getting you through it. Great job!

    April 28, 2009 at 5:41 pm
  • Reply J

    talking to yourself and giving yourself that positive talk and reinforcement really does help! I am so glad that you made it through the run! I know what you mean with the emotions just coming on, I felt that way yesterday!

    April 28, 2009 at 5:55 pm
  • Reply jlc

    If you didn’t post pictures, I wouldn’t think you were real!!

    You are unbelievable!! Congrats girl!!

    April 28, 2009 at 7:20 pm
  • Reply Wearing Mascara

    I read this from start to finish :-) AWESOME post! I am so proud of you and your 20 miles! WOW! Keep up the great work and continue to write about it :-) YOU’RE SUCH an inspiration!

    April 28, 2009 at 7:38 pm
  • Reply BumbleBeeRunning

    Wow, great job! That is such an awesome accomplishment- so inspirational!

    April 28, 2009 at 7:56 pm
  • Reply Jodi

    Way to go! Your mom would be so very proud of you. I can’t believe you ran 20…well, actually, I can – you are awesome. So proud of you, and can’t wait ’til your marathon!

    April 28, 2009 at 8:57 pm
  • Reply Run For Life

    Woot, you did it!!! I always get emotional on my long runs, too…I blame it on hormones, haha.

    In all seriousness, I’m sure your mom is so proud of you. You are certainly right that you have to push yourself and try to stay positive in order to see what you can accomplish.

    April 28, 2009 at 9:16 pm
  • Reply Denise

    You’re a rock star!! What a great post. I remember how great it felt to run my first 14 miler, then 18, then 20…then the marathon. It’s an unbelievable feeling and you should be SO proud of yourself. The runs can be great or trying and you definitely pushed through that one. Dedicate your first marathon to your mom…you’ll never forget your first one. Easy or hard, you first will be such a HUGE accomplishment.

    April 29, 2009 at 4:42 am
  • Reply D10

    Nice job on the 20. You did it and you are ready for the marathon. All the time alone when on a long run can make you think a lot. I have gotten chocked up before on my runs and can only imagine what I must look like from those passing by.

    April 29, 2009 at 4:47 am
  • Reply Jenny

    Nice job on that 20 miler!! Great post!

    April 29, 2009 at 5:08 am
  • Reply E

    fantastic job! loved reading this post. i have yet to do the 20 miler (i’m running the SD marathon too- my first one) but it’s coming and i need to get myself mentally ready. you are going to do so well- you’ve done a great job on your training! keep up the hard work and thanks for such an inspiring post!

    April 29, 2009 at 9:32 am
  • Reply Jamie

    great job on the 20 miler!!! 20 is an amazing accomplishment and emotional journey.

    i lost my mom about 6 years ago and it always surprises me what will get me crying especially when on a run. it seems running makes me more of an emotional wreck.

    April 29, 2009 at 9:48 am
  • Reply Jamie

    Ohhh good tip.. yes I have corse thick hair and it does hold a curl but mostly at the bottom. I have trouble getting it to stay at the top and in the middle. I have a flat iron but its the wider kind.

    April 29, 2009 at 10:36 am
  • Reply Ms. V.

    I’m really proud of you. That was an amazing report. I love the stopping at your house…Somehow I thought you had already done a marthon. Will have to look around on your blog to find out what you’re running!!

    WTG girl!

    April 29, 2009 at 11:26 am
  • Reply Julianne

    Great job on your first 20 miler!! You did great. Can’t wait to see how you do on your first marathon!!

    April 29, 2009 at 11:30 am
  • Reply P.O.M.

    Yeah girlie I”m soooooooooo soooooooooo proud of you! I knew you could do it. And crying during your training run is actually good practice. I guarantee you will cry on marathon day. I cried at mile 22 and almost had an asmtha attack. Those long distances really bring out a lot of emotions. I know your mom is so proud of you!

    April 29, 2009 at 12:13 pm
  • Reply Carlee

    You totally just motivated me. My 20-miler has been coming up and now injuries and stomach flus have left my weeks SHORT on mileage. It’s good to know you did a great job on yours with similar running ahead of time. I was beginning to think I ruined my shot at the marathon…Thanks

    April 29, 2009 at 12:36 pm
  • Reply Marisa

    What an amazing experience. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and your mom was running right along with you. :)

    April 29, 2009 at 3:56 pm
  • Reply The Laminator

    Very nice post, ChicRunner. Kudos to you for your first 20 miler. I’m glad you had such a cathartic experience for you and you got it done. I’ve had many emotional experiences on my long runs where things get fuzzy or poignant at mile 18 and you think of things you never would have thought of otherwise.

    As an aside, of course you can do a FULL marathon…if you can run 20 miles, you can run a marathon. Remember it’s all a matter of perspective and you are one tough woman, so nothing can really stop you buy you.

    Thanks for sharing your awesomeness with us. It’s really inspiring!

    April 29, 2009 at 10:22 pm
  • Reply Glenn Jones

    “Allow yourself to succeed” – great quote! It’s pretty darn near the top of my list of all time quotes. It’s right up there with a quote from Doyle Brunson (poker player) I use to motivate myself whenever I’m down on life – “Don’t worry about losing. Worry about winning.”

    Congrats on the 20. It’s a big milestone. Hope to see you this weekend.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:43 am
  • Reply Melanie

    I really enjoyed reading this post. Way to go on your first 20-miler! It’s a huge accomplishment!

    April 30, 2009 at 12:29 pm
  • Reply Marathon Maritza

    What an emotional, first 20-miler…but I am so proud of you for finishing it! Great job!

    THat mental toughness will DEFINITELY help you in the marathon, believe me! :)

    April 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm
  • Reply Full of Heart

    What an amazing accomplishment! Sometimes the little things, like doing 20 miles on your own, are so much bigger than the really big things like doing a marathon race.
    I’ve found that when it comes to things like being upset about your parent’s death (my dad died when I was 15) it can hit you at the randomest times ever, and be triggered by things you’d never expect. In fact you being triggered by the group walking is much more normal than things I usually get triggered by!

    April 30, 2009 at 3:06 pm
  • Reply Katie Marie

    what a great blog. you were really ‘in the moment for this’. my last race, a 5k Susan Komen in Central Park was similar. I get goose bumps at the parts when you think of your mom..everytime I ran next to a can you not just pull from within.

    But that was a 5k. not 20 miles. wow nice job!!

    Second, I ran a 5k a couple yrs ago on a busy road (Saturday morning, fast food places cooking away)..and almost had to stop because of the SMELLS. EEK!

    Never heard of another person having this issue but it KILLS me. I know I cannot run long distances on busy roads with food smells in particular. yick. So you are not alone!!


    May 5, 2009 at 9:42 am
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