When you go out for a 20+ mile long run, lots of crazy things come into your head. In the last few miles of my 23 mile excursion, I kept thinking about this film clip. Are you dead yet? Unlike Sanka, my answer kept coming back…NOPE! My journey towards my first full marathon continued with a new personal distance record…23 miles.The last three crazy long runs have yielded similar results for me. Each time, I find myself able to go further than the time before and had to just do a bunch of walking to finish. After Saturday, I can see the method behind the Jeff Galloway training plan’s madness. Each crazy long run pushes your distance to your limits (and beyond). In the instructions for this training plan, Jeff encourages us to finish each long run, even if it means walking. By the time you get to the next crazy distance, you’re able to run/walk/run your previous distance. At least that’s been my experience.
I saw this on the USC Trojans blog recently and loved it! That’s where my Saturday started. When the sun came up, it was time to hit the ground running.
For my 23 miles, I chose to stay close to home. So, I took the same course I had put together for my 17 mile long run through the streets of Pasadena and South Pasadena. It all started here. The sky looked really cool right before I started. So, I just had to get a quick picture while my Nike+ Sportwatch GPS found me.
It rained the day before, thus the dark clouds. However, it wouldn’t rain on Saturday. The sky did look pretty cool, though. When I started the run, it was around 50 degrees outside…really cold for this Southern Californian. I knew, though, that I’d warm up pretty quickly.
I chose the Dumbo Double Dare shirt to inspire me to a great run. So, once the Nike+ Sportwatch GPS found me, I was off and running. On my very first run interval, I passed some people who were all bundled up due to the cold temps. I’m sure they must have thought I was crazy to be out in such cold weather wearing a short-sleeved shirt and shorts. For most of the first mile, I would have agreed with them. I kept blowing on my hands during the walk breaks to keep them warm. By the end of mile 1, the temps were no longer an issue because I had warmed up. Thanks to a few stop lights, my first mile was a little slow. However, with 22 more to finish, I wasn’t too worried. I made up for it on the next mile thanks to some favorable green lights! I’m really glad I found this route while training for the Dumbo Double Dare. South Pasadena is a really nice area to run through.
Just like the other times I’ve covered this route, I made my way to Orange Grove Blvd. I passed by the Tournament of Roses House and made my way towards the Rose Bowl. As I got close to Colorado Blvd., I saw that they were already setting up the bleachers for the Rose Parade. As you can see in the above picture, the sidewalk was taken over with bleachers. So, I had to cross the street.
Here’s a better view of the work they’ve already finished. When I crossed Colorado Blvd., I kept going on Orange Grove. The Rose Parade will turn at this intersection and this is where most of the televised coverage will happen.
One of the fun things about living in Pasadena is watching the bleachers get set up all throughout the month of December. I had no idea they started this early. I made my way further up Orange Grove Blvd., and on into the Rose Bowl loop. Since I needed more than 17 miles, I took two laps around the stadium (each lap is approximately 3 miles). Running around the Rose Bowl is so much fun! There is a gradual incline up one side and a gradual decline on the other. The incline is not really that difficult and I’d never classify it as a hill. However, you can sure feel it. There are always so many people out on the loop that it’s a great place to people watch…except you’re also moving along. Each time I’ve run here, I see this old guy who wears a shirt that says “Marathon Man” or something like that. He’s always trucking along with a smile on his face. Completely awesome. As you make your way around the loop, you also go around a great golf course. I know that the fence obscures the view a little. But, look…
I may have not had the chance to run by the ocean Saturday, but I did still find some fantastic scenery to enjoy! By the end of my second lap, it was time to bid the Rose Bowl adieu and head back to Colorado Blvd. Coming out of the Rose Bowl, there are two hills with a nice flat stretch in between to get back to Orange Grove Blvd. So, I knew my average pace would suffer a little. However, I was determined to make it until the end of mile 20 before I would quit my planned run/walk intervals.
At the end of mile 15, I came to Pasadena City College. This is where I earned my Paralegal Certificate. It’s a beautiful campus. As you can tell, the sun was out in full force by this point. It was fun to run down Colorado Blvd., through Old Town Pasadena, arriving here. As I pass the cafe’s with people enjoying their breakfasts or brunches, I always wonder what the people who see me are thinking. I mean I’m not a tiny person at all. I’m sure that some probably wonder what I’m doing and why I’m even trying to run. Others, probably, think “Good for him!” These are just some of the thoughts that cross my mind.
Once I pass Pasadena City College, the scenery isn’t so great for a few miles. I made my way back to California Blvd by mile 17 and the scenery was much nicer. Somewhere around mile 18, I passed Cal Tech. If you’ve ever seen the people who talk about earthquakes after a large enough earthquake hits Southern California, this is where they are at. At mile 18, I was very impressed with how much running I was doing. I thought a lot about how little I ran on my 17 mile run on the same stretch and how painful that stretch was then. However, on this day, I was doing alright.
I continued to do so until the last part of mile 20. That’s when the wheels began to fall off. By the time I finished the 20th mile, I was done and ready to call it a day. In a somewhat bad move, I decided that finishing with my 3 mile loop around the apartment would be a great way to finish this run. After all, my last mile would have a lot of running downhill. The mile before that, however is mostly uphill. At mile 22, uphill just isn’t happening. The sun was out in full force, my feet were starting to hurt, and I just felt exhausted. However, I just had to finish all 23 miles. Also, I had a slight miscalculation of the distance and the last hill was around 21.5 miles into this run. So, once I got to the top, I still had 1.5 miles to go, instead of 1 mile to go. What got me to the end of mile 22 was the thought of quitting once I got there. However, by the time I got back to where my apartment was, I had finished 22.10 miles. With just 0.90 miles to go, I just couldn’t quit. So, I continued to walk on. In each of the last three miles, I did make attempts at running. I’m very proud to say that in the last mile, I had one run interval that lasted a little more than 30 seconds! There were a few other run intervals in that last mile. However, making it more than 30 seconds being as tired and in as much pain as I was felt like a huge victory!
This is me at mile 15…not dead yet. I tried to get another pic at the end of my 23 miles. However, I guess that picture didn’t take. Oh well, I was too tired to try again. I finished 23 miles in just under 5 and a half hours. Compared to a lot of people whose blogs I read, that’s pretty slow. However, this run told me that I shouldn’t have to worry too much about being swept at the Walt Disney World Marathon. Between now and then, I still have a 26 mile long run to finish (December 21st). If it goes like all of the others, I expect miles 23-26 to be hard and painful. However, by finishing that run, I’ll be primed and ready to tackle 26.2 three weeks later. The goal for me in this first marathon is to finish and get that Mickey medal. It would be great if I could finish in under 6 hours. However, I do want to get some character photos along the course and have fun along the way. So, it might take a bit longer.
Overall, this run was a great run for me. It was probably my best to date. I finished 20 miles in a time that was nearly 20 minutes quicker than I did three weeks prior! I was really happy about not having that twinge in my calf that derailed that 20 mile run. I was also happy about being able to maintain a run/walk ratio and stick to the plan I had going into this run for so long. Finishing 23 miles was about growth this time. On December 21st, I get to a Walt Disney World Marathon dress rehearsal and a trip to Disneyland the next day to celebrate my last crazy long run. I can’t wait! I finished 23 miles and am not dead yet!