Today was a big day. Because of my injury, I missed a critical time in my marathon training that included a few really long runs. When I started running again, I quickly increased the volume - maybe a little too quickly - so I could get back into the 13+ mile distances. However, my body fought back and I was forced to scale it back. I decreased a planned 20-miler to a 10 in order to prevent pain and injury. So today I finally did a 20-mile run, my first and only of the training season. Normally I'd like to do 2 or 3 so I had a lot riding on this run.
I was out a bit late last night exploring Brooklyn, where I'll be moving in the winter. It was important as well so I didn't want to cut it short. As a result, I slept until 9 and planned to start my run a little later. This worked out great since it was in the 40s this morning and by the time I hit the streets, around 12:30, it was in the mid-50s - perfect long run weather.
I ran up the Hudson to Central Park, then did a loop, a middle loop and multiple bridle path loops on the dirt to rest my legs. I was feeling pretty great except for minor aches and pains here and there. Because it was cold, I wasn't feeling thirsty so my hydrating was definitely at a deficit. I experimented with my race day outfit, a sleeveless top, shorts, compression socks (of course) and arm warmers. All seemed to be working well. Around mile 8 I noticed a blister forming on my left big toe. Ouch. My ITB hurt a bit around mile 12, but nothing I couldn't push through. The weather was perfect, the route I chose was beautiful and I was enjoying about 75% of what was coming up on the iPod. You can't ask for more.
The miles flew by for the most part, but at mile 15, I got a very painful side stitch that never let up. I tried putting my hands above my head, deep breathing, even holding my breath. Nothing worked. I had to push through. It unfortunately didn't end so I just kept running. I looked at my watch and realized I was going to finish in under 3 hours so I kept pushing. I ended up doing my last mile in under 8:30.
I finished well within my former marathon goal pace of a sub-9:00 mile. This would land me comfortably at a sub-4 race. But I let this goal go and I've adjusted it to 4:15 or less because I had a lot of struggles, a lot of aches and pains and another 6.2 miles is a lot. Everything could change. I'm going to give it my all in 2 weeks, but if I can make 4:15 I'll be happy. This will be 30 minutes better than my previous PR and that's a big accomplishment. I've had a lot of obstacles and I've fought a good fight, but there comes a point where sometimes it just isn't enough. I'm thankful to be where I am and I have no doubt after today that I'm going to have a great race on November 2. I just want to remember to keep my head up and take it all in rather than stressing over a time. Otherwise, why am I doing this?
Distance - 20 miles
Time - 2:58:52