Week 10 finished with a day I won’t soon forget. However, as for the rest of the week, it wasn’t my best. I had a really strong 4 mile run on Tuesday and didn’t run on Thursday. I honestly can’t even remember why I chose not to run on Thursday. Then, on Sunday I missed my gym workout due to tiredness from my long run on Saturday and the need to get chores done that my wife and I didn’t get done on Saturday.
None of missed workouts seemed to matter in how I felt about the week because I completed 20 miles on Saturday! Yes, I did my first ever 20 mile training run and lived to tell you all about it! Although, it was rough, I’m pretty proud of myself for never giving up and every thought I had towards the end of finishing before 20 miles was quickly dismissed. However, it was a tale of two halves.
When I arrived at Huntington Beach to start my 20 mile trek, it was very foggy and cold. Weather people would say that there was a thick marine layer in Huntington Beach. It was so cold outside that I wondered if I should even take my jacket off. However, I knew that I tend to warm up pretty quickly and that a few hours later, the weather might look different. So, after paying for 6 hours of parking, I was ready to go!
As I mentioned on Friday, the plan was to run with 4 water bottles (2 with water and 2 with Gatorade). What I learned right from the first run interval or two was 4 water bottles filled with liquid was too much weight for my fuel belt. After trying to make adjustments on the fly, I wound up carrying the extra two bottles until I finished the liquids in them. Funny enough, with my focus being on keeping the fuel belt from coming off, the first mile flew by. Like usual, I had a sub 11 minute first mile. So, with all the distractions, I was able to maintain my usual speed. Also, running in the cool temps helped out. Once I started running with the two bottles, things went pretty smoothly. I really enjoyed being so close to the water and felt completely comfortable with the temps. Fun times!
5 miles down! I finished the first five miles in under 1 hour which was my goal. Here I am at that point! Still feeling good. Here is what I was around me at that point…
The runner now in front of me was behind me in the previous picture. Since I was on a walk break and employing my strategy, I had no problems watching him pass by. I had a plan and wanted to stick with it. Once I got to 5 miles, I took on some Gu and water and walked for 5 minutes. Just as planned. Then, it was time to get running again. Bye, bye Bolsa Chica Beach…
The next 5 miles would mostly be spent away from the water. The bike trail by the beach ended a quarter of a mile from this point and I was running behind some of the beach front homes for a while before making my way up to Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). I knew, from my 8 mile training run for the Disneyland Half Marathon, that the trek along PCH had two overpass climbs to make. So, beforehand, the plan was to alter my run/walk ratio. However, the first climb went along really well. Before I knew it, I was at the top. It totally surprised me how easily I finished that climb. The second climb went along just as well as the first. I felt great as I went downhill with the knowledge that I didn’t have to make any alterations to my run/walk intervals on those two overpasses. Yay!
Once I made it to the bottom of the second overpass, the first traffic light gave my first time of having to stop for a red light. The stop didn’t last long. The next street lead me to the bike path along Seal Beach. Again, I was feeling great and my time was going well. It felt good to see the pier at Seal Beach because I knew it was the turn around point for me. It was 9.14 miles from the Huntington Beach Pier to the Seal Beach Pier. Once I got there, I had to take a few pics.
I really wanted a selfie pic with the seal. However, I just couldn’t get the camera to cooperate. So, I had to settle for a picture of the seal without me.
As you can tell, the sun had come out and it was a glorious day! I walked a bit up the pier and took this picture. I love the beach! Oh, I should mention that I stopped the watch when I got to the pier. So, none of the walking around and taking pictures would count against my time. I was wanting to make this 20 mile journey as much fun as I could make it.
Since I couldn’t get a selfie with the seal, I took this picture instead.
On my second run interval on the way back, I got a twinge in my lower calf that I’ve never experienced before. It was towards the end of the interval. So, I just stopped and walked a little longer than 1 minute and tried the next run interval. 3 strides into that interval, it happened again. Since I had no idea what was going on with me, I decided to walk for a while. At first, I thought of walking about 5 miles and testing it again. When I walked, I started off slowly and progressed to a power walk. It was frustrating to know that I couldn’t run at this point. I watched the clock tick away…I crossed 10 miles at 2 hours 2 minutes. So, I wasn’t too far off what I had hoped for beforehand. I started thinking that this could be a good time to test out my walking pace. After all, who knows what would happen in the marathon. Could I just walk it out and still stay within the runDisney max pace of 16 minutes per mile?
This is the part of the stretch I crossed along PCH. In this view, you can see the second overpass. There is no sidewalk along this stretch. So, you really have to be carefull to watch for the cyclists that fly along this road. Since I was walking, I wanted to capture this part of the journey.
Eventually, I made my way back to Bolsa Chica Beach. This is where the bike path starts going towards Huntington Beach (or ends going towards Seal Beach). By the time I reached 15 miles, I was clocking in between 15 and 16 minutes per mile. With the sun out, the views were breath-taking.
I love the way the water was just glistening under the sun. This picture was taken off another overpass I had to cross. As I made my way down the other side, I tried running again. It started off really well. The moment I went to look at my watch to see how long I had been running, I got another twinge. With that, my running for the day was over. I don’t want to risk an injury. Since I’m such a beginner, I didn’t know what was going on and I knew I could look it up later. For now, I just needed to focus on finishing ALL 20 miles. Since I was forced to walk, I knew my finishing time would not be great. However, Jeff Galloway stresses in his instructions that it’s important to make it to the end of each long run…even if you have to finish walking. So, even though it was heartbreaking to watch my amazing start get whittled away with each passing moment and knowing that I couldn’t throw in a run interval to limit my losses, I kept going.
I would get back to the Huntington Beach Pier at 18.30 miles. So, there was another small out and back I needed to finish to end the day. These were the two most brutal miles I dealt with. Mile 20 took me over 17 minutes as I just wanted to be finished. Although, the hardest part was getting through the 19th mile. After all, I could have stopped and turned around at any point during that mile. However, then, I would have been around a mile short of my goal. ONE mile short of a 20 mile goal. That was simply unacceptable to me. I had to finish this…no matter how much my feet were screaming at me…no matter how much it killed me that I couldn’t run to make the miles go by faster…I had to finish ALL 20 miles.
At 4 hours, 43 minutes, I finally finished! The battle was finally over! And now onto my reward…
Yep! A burger at Ruby’s! Although, since I finished so much later than I expected to, I didn’t have a lot of time to savor the victory. Ruby’s is at the very end of the Huntington Beach Pier. So, I had 30 minutes to walk there, order, get my food, and make it back to my car.
Thankfully, I made it with a few minutes to spare!
20 miles was the mission…even though it was rougher than I anticipated…20 miles complete! Without a doubt, it was a tale of two halves. The first half (10 miles) went really well and totally on point with what I wanted to accomplish. The second half (10 miles) was nothing but walking and the opposite of what I had hoped to accomplish. However, even with all of the walking in the second half, I crossed 13.1 miles around 7 minutes slower than I had finished the Rock n Roll Half Marathon (10 minutes faster than the Disneyland Half Marathon) and I also crossed 17 miles 5 minutes faster than I finished my 17 mile long run from 3 weeks prior! So, there were some good victories in the midst of having to walk. Lastly, I think I’m understanding how Jeff Galloway structures his preparation for a marathon. Three weeks ago, when I was going for 17 miles, the last 3 miles were painful and hard. This time around, the last two miles were painful and hard. The difference? Three weeks ago it was miles 14-17 that were painful and hard. This time, those miles weren’t as hard and very manageable. This time around, it was miles 19 and 20 that were painful and hard. So, each new long distance will have those hard and painful miles. However, the next time, with the new distance, those miles that were previously painful and hard won’t be so much. Jeff Galloway’s marathon training plan takes those in it all the way up to 26 miles 3 weeks before the marathon. I’d be willing to bet that miles 25 and 26 will be hard and painful on that day. However, when I get to the marathon, they will feel manageable. Isn’t that the goal? To get to the finish line of the marathon with a smile on your face? Ahhhhhhh! There is a method to the madness. I’m starting to believe that this marathon is doable! I have two more months to finish preparing. 9 weeks from today, I believe I will be a marathon finisher! Bring on week 11!