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Back-to-Back 20 Milers

Posted Oct 21 2012 4:18pm
I usually think of running as something that enhances my weekend, but this time I felt exactly the opposite.

After my " August of Tragedy " I was feeling unsure about my training thus far for JFK. I decided I needed to push harder and run longer. And so an ambitious October peak month was born!

I have no clue where I got the smart idea to run back-to-back 20s, especially the weekend right after a marathon . Last November after my first marathon I spent the following weekend knocking out an easy 4 miles Saturday and 5 on Sunday. Sounds much more appropriate.

In any event, back-to-back 20s in what I did, and here is how it all played out
Saturday

Its funny to think how 20 miles used to be "the big one" on my training schedule. I admit, after running them so often now, they have lost their intimidation effect quite a bit. For Saturday's 20 I planned a nice little loop around Center City. There was nothing outstanding or notable  about the run except that I was already feeling pretty sore by mile 12 and I ended up having to walk up every hill (fortunately there were very, very few). I guess running a sub-3:50 marathon seven days before probably accounted for both of those things (umm yeah...). Fortunately I could have cared less about my pace. I stopped often to fuel and use the restroom and took my sweet time.

The short but sweet Boxers Trail on Saturday's run
By the time I got home, 3-4 hours later, I felt an overwhelming amount of exhaustion. While I usually spend an hour or two in recovery mode post-run, this time I spent the rest of the day on the couch. I could barely move. Even getting up to get a cup of tea seemed to require too much energy. I wanted to sleep so badly, but I couldn't get myself to nap. I didn't even feel this depleted after the marathon last weekend.

20 #1: 
Mentally - fine
Physically - exhausted

Sunday

When my alarm went off at 6 am on Sunday the last thing I wanted to do was run, let alone run another 20 miles. My legs felt surprisingly good, but I was still exhausted.

I was out the door by 7 am and stopped to get some fuel and breakfast. After the weird look I got from the cashier the imaginary unspoken conversation in my head went something like
"Really, this much junk food at 7 am on a Sunday?"
"Umm yeah, I need it for my workout."
"Riiiiight, that makes sense. Crazy person."

"But I NEED it!"
I'm so thankful I decided to sign up for a 20 mile race in lieu of mapping yet another solo 20 miler by myself. The Delaware Canal 20-Miler was about an hour from my house in Bucks County, PA. I'd never been up there, but the pics looked beautiful and it seemed like the fall foliage was finally out, which drew me to the race in the first place.


Once I arrived I started feeling a little more positive about the run. I checked in and rushed back to my car to enjoy the heater until it was time to start.


A few minutes after 9 am the race director said the magic words and myself and 50+ other runners took off (it was a very small race!). The first mile was on pavement and looped around the park. I was so cold I couldn't even tell if my legs felt okay or not. Everything was just numb! Soon we were on the Delaware Canal tow path. The race was an easy 10 miles out and back with next to no elevation. Exactly what I was looking for.


I really wanted to enjoy the beautiful scenery, but at mile 1.5 I had to stop and walk because my calves felt like they were on fire. Every so often we I wear compression socks during a run I have this odd, 3-4 mile warm up period where the back of my calves start burning and feeling like bricks. I have no idea what triggers it. It appears to be random and turns up at the worst times. So here I was, at mile 1.5 of 20, already walking and in pain. Super start Kristin.

I did the run/walk thing until about mile 3. By mile 4 the burning sensation was gone and I just focused on trying to keep a 10 min/mile pace. Unlike the Baltimore Marathon last weekend, there were zero crowds and next to zero runners around me, so I really felt no compulsion to "race," which is exactly how I hoped I would approach this run.


I can't recall exactly which mile I started to feel sore, but safe to say it gradually increased from at least mile 5 and on. "How are you feeling?" "I feel like I ran 20 miles yesterday." Yup, that pretty much sums it up.

I hit the 10 mile turn around in 1:40 exactly. Perfect 10 min/mile pace. At that point all I wanted to do was finish. My hips were getting sore and I was feeling more and more physically strained. I began to speed up and started passing runners. It wasn't out of any sort of pride, I just really didn't want to be running anymore.


By mile 15 I was seriously ready to stop so I kicked into gear a little harder to get to the finish. I crossed the finish line in 3:11:44, meaning I gained more than 8 minutes in the second 10 miles. I told you I was ready to be done! Honestly averaging a 9:35 pace on this run probably wasn't the smartest idea and I should have taken it a little easier, but it is what it is.

Done and tired
Post-race I grabbed some pineapple at the finish line (best post-race food ever!) and drove back home.


20 #2:  Mentally - tough Physically - exhausted

I have to give my legs some major love for the next 48 hours for being so good to me. I'm sore and tired, but overall things feel pretty good. I also don't feel nearly as exhausted as I did after Saturday's 20. Strange.

This weekend was really humbling for me. I've found the past four months of JFK training relatively easy, or if not easy at least manageable. But this weekend I was really tested physically and mentally. A part of me fears that I am over training, but the other part of me is happy that my body and mind have experienced what it has so that on race day maybe I will be a little more acclimated.

What is the toughest training weekend you've had? How did you deal?


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