Sunday, September 10, 2006

20 miles

So back when I started on this epic treck to run a marathon I was focused on today. Well, actually I was focused on yesterday, but mainly because I didn't read the plan right.

Why the focus on today? Well, because today capped the peak week of training: 40 total miles, 20 of them today. Back in March 26 miles 385 yards was almost inconceivable. That was something you drove, or maybe rode a bike, not something you ran. So instead I focused on the peak of the training, 20 miles.

20 miles was something I could understand. Back when I was a Boy Scout I hiked 20 miles in a day (ok, technically it was more than a day - maybe 26 or 28 hours - but it was also more than 20 miles because we kind of got lost. And stuck in two or three white-out blizzards. And had to sleep on a logging road in plastic tube tents for 2 or 3 hours until it got light enough to keep on hiking...), and I've biked 20 miles repeatedly. 20 miles is the distance from my house to my Mom's house, roughly. It's home to work and back. It's a nice round number without any "385 yards" tacked on to confuse you.

But still...could I actually run that far? In March the farthest I'd ever run was 10 kilometers, and that was when I was 14. But I read the plans - work up to a 10k in May, go from that in to the Marathon plan and ramp up to 20 miles on September 10th - and figured "yeah, I can do that."

And today I proved that yes, I can indeed. Now, granted, I didn't truly run 20 miles, I probably only ran about 18 because my pace is to run a mile, then walk for a minute or so and have a drink, then run another mile. This makes the whole thing more digestible: I'm not running 20 miles, I'm running one mile 20 times.

So, what's it like to run 20 miles? Well, here's a recap (roughly):

Saturday evening
7:00 eat a big wad of spaghetti and drink a 20-oz bottle of Lemon-Lime Gatorade (the original and still champion).

10:00 Go to bed early but don't fall asleep until 10:30 or 10:45.

Sunday morning:
5:30: get up, dress, eat one packet of Quaker Apples and Cinamon Instant Oatmeal and a banana - the breakfast of champions

6:15 or so: pack up (bottle belt, wallet, keys, phone, mini-cooler with 3 bottles of gatorade, 2 Clif bars and a second banana) and drive to the office (downtown Seattle)

6:30: park, go up to office, fill water bottles with 1) water and 2) Orange Gatorade, load pouch of belt with phone, ID, credit card, bus pass and one Clif bar.

6:45: final restroom break, Albuterol hit (I had asthma as a kid and the doctor suggested I use an inhaler before I ran...this was back in February or March when it was cold and I was just starting training, but I figure it worked then and it won't hurt now), and 2 ibuprophen to fend off minor aches and pains (better running through chemistry, I say)

7:00 hit the road. The route I took was this, a portion of the Seattle Marathon course. I ran a similar route two weeks ago when I did 18, but with a couple differences I'll outline below in the mile-by-mile recap.

Mile-by-mile recap:
  1. Mostly downhill on 2nd avenue through downtown Seattle. My left calf has been sore and tight all week, and today was no exception. Not enough to make me stop, just enough to be annoying.
  2. Mostly uphill from around Seahawks Stadium to Rainier Avenue South. The least pleasant leg of the run is now over, as the armies of homeless men in Pioneer Square are now behind me.
  3. Up through the I-90 bike tunnel under the Mt. Baker neighborhood and out the other side to a beautiful view of the sun over Lake Washington. It's now roughly 7:40.
  4. A little over half way across the I-90 floating bridge. It's approaching 8 on a Sunday morning and the bike dorks are starting to come out. I'm passed by 8 or 9 groups - mostly small, 2 or 3 - of spandex-clad Lance Armstrong wannabes.
  5. Up to the Mercer Island Lid and the first restroom break of the run. Also time to crack in to the Clif bar. I'm 1/4 of the way done and the legs feel pretty good.
  6. A half-mile loop on top of the Lid, then back down on to the bridge. More bike dorks go by, as does a never-ending river of cars.
  7. Back at the west end of the floating bridge. Time to walk down the stairs to the lake.
  8. Coleman Park, about half way between I-90 and the Stan Sayer's Pits (home of the SeaFair Hydroplane race). Second restroom break, top off the water bottle, add some water to the Gatorade bottle, eat some more Clif bar. When I ran 18 miles 2 weeks ago I turned around here, then ended up tacking on another mile or two at the end because I shorted and learn!
  9. Stan Sayer's Pits, the turn-around point for the southern leg of the route. Stretched out a bit, then headed back North. Lots of runners over the last 2 miles, including three pushing jogging strollers. Two of the stroller people were grouped together, the woman pushing a single kid, the man pushing two. I'm assuming they're together, and I'm impressed that anyone would try to go jogging with triplets.
  10. It's around 9:00, I'm half way done and back at Coleman park. I don't bother stopping, just drink a bit, eat a bit, and walk past. I'm feeling pretty good considering I've just covered 10 miles. But then, it's mostly been flat, and I know that the next 10 are more hilly.
  11. Continuing north past I-90 and up toward Leschi. Just as I hit mile 11 and stop to walk I'm passed by a massive peleton of bike dorks. Lake Washington Blvd. is a particular favorite of the bike dork breed, and these were parading by in true dork fashion: most in matching spandex outfits, riding 2 abreast and blocking traffic. Dorks.
  12. Up through Leschi to Madrona. This part of Lake Washington Blvd. isn't quite as peaceful and pleasant as the portion south of I-90...more people, more cars, more coffee shops.
  13. Mile 13 takes me past Curt Cobain's house (the one he shot himself in...or, if you believe some people, the house someone murdered him in), a bunch of other rich people's houses, then up some brutal switchbacks toward the Arboretum. I've ridden my bike up this hill before, and I dare say I think it's easier to run it. It still hurts, but in a different way.
  14. After the big hill it's relatively flat for a bit, then down hill in to the Arboretum. I'm now running on busy roads, which isn't all that pleasant. Actually, now that I think about it, the only not busy roads have been downtown (not a lot of people out at 7:00 on a Sunday morning) and south of I-90. Luckily, that's all about to change...
  15. Up Interlaken Avenue and in to Interlaken park. Interlaken is narrow, windy, and up hill. For the 18-mile run I took another street a block farther north that was straighter and less fact, it ran down hill for about 2 miles. That was great, until I had to climb an incredibly steep hill to get back on the route...this week, I don't make the same mistake and am rewarded with a trip through a park I didn't know existed.
  16. Another mile and I'm out of Interlaken Park, which is a shame. This park basically winds across the north end of Capital Hill. I'm assuming that Interlaken Blvd. or Interlaken Avenue used to run through the whole park, but at some point they cut it off to vehicle traffic. It runs through a deciduous forest and across a couple nice ravines, and the trees drown out most of the noise of the city. I think I saw a grand total of six people over two miles.
  17. In to the home stretch. Mile 17 takes me parallel to I-5 until I get to the Lakeview Blvd. overpass. I ran this on the 18-miler, and it's not a lot of fun...slow grade, some traffic, not a lot of shade. My legs are tired, my feet hurt, and I want to be done. But I've got 3 miles to go.
  18. Down across I-5 to Eastlake, then a turn down Republican in to the "South Lake Union" neighborhood that Paul Allen is paying to spruce up. Another area that's not really running-friendly, but since it's Sunday morning (although it is getting later...probably 10:30 or 10:45) there isn't much traffic out which means I can run through a few lights. This is a very good thing, because the sore legs really don't like stopping. Walking is OK, but stopping is bad. And running in place isn't much better.
  19. Up through Beltown, heading back toward the office. I'm now chanting a mantra of how many miles I have left. The only problem is I know the GPS is going to cut out any moment as I get closer to down doesn't like the tall buildings (or tunnels or trees automatic 1-mile lap alarm reset from on the mile to on the mile-point-12 when I went through the I-90 bike tunnel between miles 2 and 3) and I'm sure I'm going to be short on distance if I go straight to the office. See, I didn't exactly follow the course outlined in Wayfaring, instead cutting up Bell. So I call an audible (kind of a grunt, probably) and decide to head up 4th to the Seattle Public Library, then loop back down to the office. This will give me a nice down hill cool-down, which sounds good since my legs and feet are dead.
  20. Done! The last mile is actually not completely bad. There are a lot of people down town, so I have to dodge them, but I make almost all the lights. The cool-down from the library back to the office works perfectly, and I'm actually able to stretch the pace for the last 2 or 3 blocks, or roughly the last 385 yards of today's run. Which is good, because I'd like to be able to finish strong in the marathon rather than wimpering and crawling across the finish line. We'll see if it happens!
11:30: Back at the office, drink another gatorade (fruit punch, I believe), eat a yoghurt and stretch. Then back to the car, drive home (drinking another gatorade and eating a banana on the way).

12:00: brief ice bath to cool and soothe the legs and feet, shower off the stink, then collapse on the couch to watch the Seahawks game on the DVR. Not as relaxing a game as I might have liked, but at least they won...

So, there you have it. Probably more info than you wanted, but it's good to get it out of my head!

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