20 Mile Training Run Success!

Guys, I think I might be crazy. Yesterday I ran 20 miles for the first time ever, and I actually really enjoyed myself.

I remember a few years ago when 6 miles was a huge deal.

I remember running 10 miles for the first time back in 2010 and being so tired and sore after it that I napped half the day.

I remember running my first half marathon in June 2010, and then running more halfs in the years that followed, and always thinking there was no way I could possibly go another step past those 13.1 miles.

Never say never, but I always said never. Never 26.2. That’s insane, and bad for you, and not fun at all. Insane? Definitely. Bad for you? I’m sure that much distance isn’t great for these knees.

But not fun? I was wrong. Running this far IS fun, weirdly. Or, at least it is with these ladies on a beautiful Sunday morning in September.

The Oatmeal did an awesome comic a few years ago entitled “The Terrible & Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances” (totally worth a read if you haven’t seen it – hilarious), and I totally agree. No matter what else is going on, how much work you have to do or how much of a mess your place is or whatever, running 20 miles will leave you feeling like a total bada$$. Gotta love a runner’s high. No drugs necessary, just my feet and a pretty day.

My running buddies Kathleen, Rachel, and I met up at 9 a.m. at Roosevelt Island yesterday, ready to conquer the big 2-0. As I said last week after 19 miles, 20 just sounded way more intense than 19, even though it was only one more mile. I was nervous but excited.

Before I left my house, I had two of my Banana Spelt Muffins (click for recipe) to fuel up. My mom made a batch of these (with blueberries) over the weekend because she had a ton of overripe bananas and gave me and Matt some of them. Thanks mom – they were as good as I remembered!

As for fuel during the run, I brought the following, in addition to my 2 L of water in my Nathan HPL 020 hydration vest:

  • Mocha Clif shot gel (eaten slowly over miles 6 to 9)
  • Clif Margarita Shot Bloks (one every mile starting around mile 10, with a break when I ate the granola bar. Ate one last one around mile 19.) I took these out of the package and put them in a ziplock baggie so they were easier to eat while running!
  • Cascadian Farm chewy chocolate chip granola bar (eaten between miles 16 and 17 when I was craving real food)

The girls and I decided to do a nice big loop of trails for the run. We headed up the big hill of death in Rosslyn onto the Custis Trail along I-66, running on that until we hit the W&OD trail.

Side note – how awesome is this water bottle specific water fountain? SO much easier than trying to get the weak stream of a normal water fountain to go into your bottle. (Rachel had a mix of Gatorade and water in her bottle, hence the weird color, in case you were concerned…)

The girls and I took the W&OD trail towards Arlington, chatting the whole way. Around mile 6, I ate my first piece of fuel – the mocha Clif shot gel. I ate it slowly, finishing it around mile 9.

When I finished the gel, I started eating one of the Clif Margarita Shot Bloks every mile or so.

The miles flew by thanks to the chatter from the ladies and the nice weather. Eventually, we picked up the Four Mile Run Trail towards Shirlington. I’d actually never been on this trail before! We hopped off the trail to run through Shirlington, just for fun. Amazing brunch smells were wafting out of the restaurants… we might need to end our next run here so we can hit up brunch!

From there, we got back on a trail that spit us out on the Mt. Vernon Trail by the airport. 

This is our favorite part of the trail – love running under the weeping willows.

From there, to add in some extra mileage, we headed over Memorial Bridge.

We ran along the water and then got onto the I-66 bridge, which I’ve driven on a ton but have actually never run over!

Just like with last week’s 19 miler, I started to get hungry for real food around mile 16. I broke into a Cascadian Farm chewy chocolate chip granola bar and demolished it. For our 22 miler in a few weeks I might need to bring two of them! It tasted soooo good by this point in the run, and was easy to chew while running, too.

When we made it over the bridge, we realized we were on the wrong side and had to run back to get onto the other side so we could get back onto the Mt. Vernon Trail. Oops! Back we go…

Once we made it back onto the Mt. Vernon trail, we headed over the pedestrian bridge onto Roosevelt Island to tackle our final mile.

I was definitely feeling pretty wiped by this point but still strong, considering. I couldn’t believe how quickly the run went by!

And then… done. Wow. 20 miles!!

Right on track with pace, too.


    • Mile 1: 10:16 (<—hill of death – rough way to start!)
    • Mile 2: 9:57
    • Mile 3: 9:53
    • Mile 4: 9:51
    • Mile 5: 9:38
    • Mile 6: 9:16
    • Mile 7: 9:34
    • Mile 8: 9:38
    • Mile 9: 9:40
    • Mile 10: 9:49
    • Mile 11: 9:26
    • Mile 12: 9:36
    • Mile 13: 9:39
    • Mile 14: 9:52
    • Mile 15: 9:44
    • Mile 16: 9:12
    • Mile 17: 9:35
    • Mile 18: 9:43
    • Mile 19: 9:11
    • Mile 20: 9:14
    I was really pleased with our pace – nice and consistent and right on track as per our marathon training plan from my running coach Mary. Our overall time was 3:12:53 for an average pace of 9:38 minute miles. Sitting down and stretching had never felt so good. 😉
    I’ve heard from marathoner friends that there are two halves of a marathon – the first 20 miles and the last 6. I know that if things are going to totally fall apart, it will probably be after mile 20, and that just because I felt decent on yesterday’s run doesn’t mean things will go well on race day. That said, I’m still feeling pretty good overall about the marathon at this point, with fingers crossed on the injury front.

      I did another ice bath yesterday when I got home from the run, and spent some time with my foam roller, too. This morning, I enjoyed a nice and easy 30 minute recovery swim to stretch out my tired legs. I let my arms do most of the work and my legs enjoyed the nice water pressure – love swimming the day after a long run. Overall, I’m not really all that sore today, but I do have a wicked blister on my little toe on my left foot, and I got some bad chafing right under the bottom of my sports bra in the middle of my chest. Ouch. I used body glide, which normally solves the problem for me at the half marathon distance, but for these really long runs it apparently hasn’t done the trick because I’ve been chafing in that same spot on all our super long runs. I’m thinking next time I might put a band-aid or some moleskin over that area unless I want to end up with a scar from repeated chafing!
      Up next on the training docket is a step down week! This coming weekend we’ve got a 12 miler on tap, and then the weekend after it’s back up to 20 again. A month and a half to go until Richmond! 🙂
      If you’ve done a full marathon, do you agree that the last 6 miles is just as hard as (if not harder than) the first 20?
      How did everyone else’s runs go this weekend? Any great races or training runs?
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