Saturday, January 9, 2010

Easier, But Still Not Easy

Don't let anyone ever convince you. Twenty milers are *not* easy. They certainly get easier. But I really really doubt that they will ever get easy....

I was not going to let this run be like the previous week's run, so my fist stop was the local donut shop to grab some quick energy. What the heck, I was about to burn 3500 calories - what's wrong with a sweet sugar pill? I also had my fuel for the day packed away - two Hammer Gel packets with two Endurolytes attached and a Clif Luna Bar with two Endurolytes attached. I quaffed a couple of Endurolytes and was full of piss and vinegar as the group took off.
My plan was to keep this one slow and deliberate. No pushing. This is the first of at least two and hopefully three 20 milers on this training cycle. I need to make sure that I wasn't going to have such a horrible experience that I would be tempted to bag the next one. I set off slowly. Ever so slowly. Kind of like the tortoise. I shuffled on through the first fueling point at 5 miles. Turned off the main San Diego Creek trail at mile 6 and head up toward the hills. Honestly, before I knew it I was at the turn around point. Interestingly enough, the 10 mile point was right at the finish line of the Make Room for Santa 10K. That was a 20 minute drive last month! Crap. That's a long way!

At this point, everything was going to plan. Based on McMillan, my long run pace should be between 10:22 and 11:22. I was right at 10:56. Fluids were good. I was sweating a lot, but heck, we're in a drought here in California, so I figured I'd just sprinkle the plants along the way. I downed my Luna Bar and Endurlytes and got my legs moving again.

Through mile 15 I was still plodding along like a champ. At mile 15, I pulled up in the park for my final fueling stop and to fill up my now empty water bottles. I took a load off for a couple minutes and took a seat. Anyone out there a skier/boarder? Ever been on the slopes on a cold snowy morning, come into the lodge for some food and a warm drink? Ever want to go *back* out into the cold?

The rest of the day was a struggle. It *was* a good mental exercise. I reminded myself that I had only a few miles left, less than an hour to go (sound familiar fellow marathoners?). My pace started tanking. By mile 18 I was just shuffling along. 12:15. 12:30. Then the final hill. Ugh. Would you believe 13:58?

But, I finished right at the upper end of McMillan's target pace. And a full 10 minutes faster than the last 20miler run. All is not lost!

This was my fourth 20 miler in the two plus years that I've been running. Is it easier? Absolutely. I know what to expect. I know I need to fuel properly. I know I *will* finish. I know that this isn't the race and that I should keep it slow and deliberate. I know I should respect it. Is it easy? Nope. Probably never will be.

P.S. - The one thing I did learn yesterday was when I get tired I have a tendency to lengthen my stride. I guess I learn something new everyday!


  1. OH great job Glenn.

    I thought of you today in my race, I shortened my stride, just like you told me to do in the Turkey Trot.

  2. Interesting insight about lengthening your stride when you're tired. I've just done one 20 (have two more scheduled), and it's good to hear how you're handling them.

  3. Great effort Glenn. Not sure gets easy in life to be honest?

    You mentioned you were full of piss and vinegar after your Enduralytes. Have to laugh! That is exactly what I am full of - at least the first one. I need a potty break usually 15-20 minutes after consuming.

  4. Awesome job, just tick that one off the list. In that respect, the 20 miler feels great(once it's over and checked off)! Those last miles are the toughest but shuffling is I paid back my body with a good jog/shuffle! Gosh you HAD just gone 18/19 miles after all! Well done, have a nice week!

  5. Congratulations on the long run! It's nice to read about your mental strategy during the run. Even though those last 5 miles were really tough, it probably is great mental training for race day.

    I love the part about sweating on the plants!

  6. Great job. I love the stop at the donut shop before you start. My kind of fuel.

  7. If it were easy then everyone would be running. There's something to be said about perseverance. Nice job.

  8. As usual, Glenn, you are my hero. Next time, don't sit!!

    I think I do the same thing when I'm tired, and also lean forward, which causes back pain. I have to imagine my brother telling me to stand up more straight and shorten my stride, and it does help me continue on.

    20 miles! 20 miles!!

  9. I agree with you, they never become easy. Not mentally anyway.

    You got it done though!

  10. Great Post Glenn. Great Job on the run. Lengthening your stride when getting tired? hmmm. I guess every one has their different thing. Keep up the good work.

  11. great job on the 20! 10 min faster is DANG good. I can't imagine that a 20 miler would ever be considered "easy" to me either. Uff.

  12. no they definitely don't get easy! way to go - i'm glad you got this one in the books. woulda had to get on your case if you didn't race AND didn't get your 20-miler done. :)

    when i start feeling tired/slowing down i *try* to remind myself "pump your arms", "surge - you'll feel better", etc. it usually helps.

    just one donut? i think if i stopped i would've made a big buffet out of it and never made it to the trail...

  13. They don't get easy, but once you've done a few, you almost take them for granted. I remember my first one and how MONUMENTAL it was. The one I did two weeks ago was tough, but I didn't walk around telling everyone I saw that I just ran 20 miles.

    Great job on a well-run 20 miler.