I reached a new running milestone yesterday.
I ran 20 miles.
My marathon training plan prescribed the distance as part of the final preparation for my first 26.2 mile race. I’ll run 22 miles the next two Sundays before beginning a gradual taper for the mid-April event.
I hit the 30A Running and Biking Trail at 6:30 a.m. Saturday in Grayton Beach, FL. To be safe, I decided to do four five-mile out-and-back loops, which would keep me no more than 2.5 miles from our place should the distance — or humidity — get the best of me.
I headed west from Grayton Beach for my first circuit. The sun was just creeping over the eastern horizon, and the fog and humidity were thick. My glasses quickly clouded up, and I couldn’t see more than 20 feet.
At my first five-mile turn, I downed 14 jelly beans and six ounces of water before heading east on the 30A Running and Biking Trail for my second loop. The rising sun had burned away the morning fog, and I wished several blocks out that I’d grabbed my sunglasses.
The second circuit went well, too, though the morning humidity was on the rise as I made the 2.5-mile turn and headed back toward the cottage. Once there, I grabbed my sunglasses, downed another 14 jelly beans and six more ounces of water and headed out for my second westward run.
As I hit the 30A Biking and Running Trail at the four-way stop in Grayton Beach for the third time, a new sensation dawned on me. Fatigue.
Not yet, I thought. I’m barely halfway there.
I kept going. And I kept feeling more worn down.
As I approached the two-mile mark of my third loop, an idea flickered in my mind. I’ll turn around at two miles and make my last circuit six miles.
I knew it was a good strategy, because Kate and Tom would be waiting for me at the cottage, ready to join me for the final loop of the morning. They were planning on five miles but could easily do an extra one. I needed their support to keep me going.
I turned around at 2.05 miles and headed back. The thought of them joining me for the last circuit made the third trip back to the cottage easier.
Just as we’d planned, Kate and Tom were waiting for me when I arrived. I downed my last 14 jelly beans, drank about 18 ounces of water and headed back out with them.
We talked and caught up on the morning for the first mile of the run. I’d been on the road more than two hours when they joined me, so we had plenty to talk about.
We made the eastward circuit’s 2.95-mile turn in Seaside, FL, and headed back toward the cottage. I was relieved we were beginning the last three miles of the run, but I knew they’d be the toughest for me.
I was right.
A half mile after the final turn, I had to begin taking short walk breaks every couple of minutes. My water bottle was empty, and my energy was gone.
Being with Kate and Tom, who ran ahead but never out of sight, made the difference. If they hadn’t been with me for the final 5.9 miles of the run, I’m confident I wouldn’t have finished
But because they were, I did. I ran 20 miles.
Next Sunday, I’ll tackle my first 22-mile run. I hope Kate and Tom are available …
Kansas City Runner