Well, not really my first, obviously, but my first this training cycle! And this one was honestly the first time when I was out there the entire time thinking that I absolutely am going to get this done. There have been many times in my running life where I have basically thought "oh, I will be happy if I just make it to 12 miles and then I can call it" or something like this.
I feel like this shows progress in my running. I feel like this shows confidence in some places. Now right now, I am not super confident in my ability to run super fast, but I am (for once) 100% confident in my ability to finish. That is one step further than I ever have been before. Typically, I am not really that confident in either thing. So I am calling this cycle, despite struggles, a bit of a breakthrough.
But anyway, let's talk about the 20 miles that I ran, since that is supposed to be the point of this post, not the breakthroughs that I am having.
My plan was to run the miles at Lunken Airport, the site of an epic 22 mile training run back in the summer. (It was for my fall marathon, but I ran it in August, therefore, SUMMER). That was an insanely hot and humid day, as were the majority of my long runs last summer) - yesterday was the opposite. It was chilly. Windy. A little bit drizzly. In reality, my goal for the day was to knock out twenty miles. Not much other than that.
I parked in my usual place (near the playground) and used the port-o-potty behind the building (sometimes I wonder if anyone uses that other than me - but at least it was clean-ish and had toilet paper) before taking off on the first five mile loop of the airport grounds. I ran the first mile as a warm up (8:55 pace) and then stopped to do some dynamic warm up stuff and a little stretching. I have not done this too frequently in my past, and I feel like whenever I do, I feel a zillion time better. So I stopped, did some leg swings, butt kicks, high knees, squats, and walking lunges before taking off again. My legs already felt better at that point and I was able to start running more quickly.
I was feeling pretty good until I hit a bunch of wind. That was gross. Running a few fast-ish (ok, not that fast, even for me, but my fastest of the day) miles down at Armleder took a lot out of me. So I headed back up to the top and the airport to finish it out. I needed a bathroom break and a drink of water, so I headed back toward the start to use the toilet and water fountain and was practically blown over by a 5K race headed straight toward me. So that was not fun. Then the rain started. With the temperatures what they were, this rain hurt.
While I was not ready to throw in the towel, I was ready to wring out the towel and head indoors.
As it turns out, I finished 20 miles (well, a little over) in an average of 8:28 pace. While part of me feels anxious about that pace, the other part of me remembers all of the research around running long slow distance for long runs, and this certainly is not particularly slow. So I need to take a breath, push on, because I have less than a month to go now. It is GO TIME.