This Saturday we completed our longest run to date for Baltimore Marathon training – 20 miles. There is a lot of debate about the length and timing of this last, long run before tackling the 26.2 within the runner community. But lots of reading and chatting with experienced marathon runners has me confident we can get across that finish line having “only” gone to 20.
We decided to start out west in Purcellville, VA where the trail ends (or starts, depending on your perspective). Laura’s hubby was lovely enough to drive us out there so we didn’t have to deal with a car shuffle situation after our run. We convened at 6am and 6 of us began the journey back to Ashburn.
It was quiet and dark at that hour of the morning (and the potties weren’t open!), but it felt so good to be running in cooler temps. As we headed further east, the sun began to peek out and we caught glimpses of farms, cows and mist rising over the countryside.
We were disappointed to find that our first planned pit-stop had a knocked over port-a-jon, so we had to press on into Leesburg. Along the way, we came upon some pretty bridges that had just completed construction and, since it was finally light out, posed for some photos.
Eventually we reached Leesburg (around mile 10) were we stopped to fuel, etc. I was so happy with how we were doing I went for the jump – knowing that by mile 20, that was not happening.
As you can see, I decided to take on the long run in my sparkle skirt. I wanted to make 100% certain I could manage the sparkle for longer mileage than I was used to. I also went with the same sock, tank, arm warmer and visor combo I was planning for the marathon. Luckily everything felt great as the temps warmed up and we continued on our adventure.
By this point we were on a very familiar part of the trail and all started joking about which parts drove us the most nuts. The good news was that we knew where every water fountain and bathroom was located AND almost exactly how long it would take us to get to Trailside Park, where we would pick up the road and head back to our meeting spot in the neighborhood.
Miles 15-18 were tough – mentally and physically. My body was getting tired and we all took turns keeping one another going over the course of that last stretch. At mile 19, I started looking at my watch every .10 mile, until my experienced marathon friend, Kim, told me to stop. Nicely, but firmly – of course. And our last mile was 9:14 (we’d averaged 10:04) because I think we were so happy to see the finish!!
We posed for pictures, including one with our 20 mile sign, and for many of us – it was our longest run EVER (for me in 13+ years!).
We stretched a bit and chatted before heading home to refuel and rest.
I got home and took a 20 minute ice bath followed by a shower and a 20 minute epsom salt bath. I had a huge breakfast and when my husband and son headed out, snuck in a nap. We all texted throughout the day chronicling our aches and pains, but the excitement amongst our group was palpable. We ARE marathon ready and headed to the starting line of the Baltimore Marathon on October 15!
Today I am a little bit sore going up and down steps, but most of all I am SO grateful for this group of women (and the others) who inspired a new adventure to 26.2.