Marine Corps Marathon Training 22 Miler

On Friday, before leaving town for the weekend, I tackled the longest long run on my Marine Corps Marathon training agenda: a 22 miler.

When I was training for my first full marathon, the Richmond Marathon back in 2013, I did a similar approach with my two longest runs being a 20 miler and a 22 miler. I know some training plans only call for going up to 20 miles, but I find that hitting 22 helps me a lot confidence wise for the actual race. An extra 4 miles sounds so much more manageable than an extra 6!

Lucky for me for this long run, my friend Heather, who is also training for Marine Corps Marathon, was looking to do her long run for the week on Friday as well. Hooray for company!

Heather wanted to run for 3 hours, so I knew I’d have to do a few extra miles at the end on my own, but it was still awesome to have company for most of the time! I thought I’d be doing this one solo and was kind of dreading it, to be honest.

We started off at about a 9:15 to 9:30 pace, sticking with that for about 10 miles, when we met up with a friend of Heather’s and one of her friends. We did another 5 or so with them, picking up the pace slightly to closer to 9 to 9:15, doing most of the miles over on Hains Point.

I felt pretty good until about mile 14 or 15 when I started to tank a little. We said farewell to Heather’s friends around this point and took off again just the two of us. Since I was starting to feel pretty tired we slowed the pace to about 9:30 to 9:45 and I did my best to not be cranky. 🙂 Thankfully Heather did a good job keeping me distracted with chatting!

At mile 18 I said goodbye to Heather and headed off to finish out the remaining 4 on my own. Unfortunately my watch was totally off by this point thanks to forgetting to restart it at one of the lights on the National Mall, but Heather’s was still right so I just made sure to double check our mileage before she split!

To finish out the 22, I headed down onto the Mt. Vernon Trail, my favorite.

For the first couple miles running by myself I felt pretty tired, and had settled in just under 10 minute miles, but I randomly got a second wind at mile 20 which was both unexpected and very welcome! I didn’t pick up the pace much, but I felt WAY more positive and mentally in the game, which was great. Finishing a long run feeling strong mentally is so huge.

Another thing that was cool about the end of this run was that I finished exactly at the Marine Corps Marathon finish line (including the super steep, short, rude hill that’s involved) – got me pumped for race day!

When I finished I felt surprisingly good and very proud – 22 miles is no joke. And even better was that I felt like I totally could have done the extra 4 – it wouldn’t have been fast or easy, but I definitely could have done it. That was a great feeling, especially because most of my long runs have been pretty blech thanks to hot/humid weather. It was also a nice change from how I felt finishing my 20 miler two weeks ago – I felt REALLY rough when I finished that run and ached terribly – I didn’t think I could have gone a step farther. Totally not the case on Friday – hooray!

For fuel on this run, before I left the house I had a slice of this paleo bread (loving this lately – it’s expensive with the shipping but totally worth it – I find it keeps me much more satisfied than normal toast. Before a short run I just have a half slice) with a half serving (because I was about to leave the house and didn’t want to be sloshy) of my fave Vega pre-workout energizer.

During the run, I had one mocha clif shot gel (caffeine was necessary) near the beginning of the run that I ate slowly over a few miles (mile 4 to 8 I think), and then I had 8 of my nut butter stuffed salty dates over the rest of the run. These are the BEST. Obsessed! They really keep me from feeling nauseous/ravenous late in the run.

Immediately after finishing the run, while I was stretching, I pounded a cranberry crunch perfect bar and a maple water. Hit the spot, and meant I didn’t arrive home a little while later totally ravenous/dying so I could shower before having a real meal. I wish I’d had some chocolate milk (or Organic Fuel!) but we were all out!

I’m so pumped this 22 miler is in the books, because now it’s all downhill from here! Just under 3 weeks until race day and I only have one more long run on the agenda – I’ll be doing a mid-distance long run this Thursday before leaving town for a conference on Friday. The weekend before the race I’m counting a long hike as my last training run. 🙂

To be honest, I’ve found fitting in marathon training this fall while doing so much travel and while so busy with work to be pretty stressful. It’s been worth it because I have always wanted to do Marine Corps and I don’t think timing will ever be any better, but I have to admit I’m pretty glad I’m nearly done with training. It doesn’t help that almost all of my runs were in terrible hot weather. Now that the weather is cooling down running is feeling a lot more appealing again, but I’m still pretty relieved that my last crazy long run is done – it will be nice to go back to more low key fitness and short, casual runs again post-race. 🙂

Did any of you guys run Chicago Marathon this weekend?! How was it? A huge congrats to all my track buddies who did Chicago – proud of them!

Who else got in a run this weekend? I spent the weekend hiking – more on that tomorrow! 🙂

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