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20 Mile Runs: Bill Meet Harold, Harold Meet Bill

running 6 miles has now become “too easy”

When I first started this long distance training thing, the thought of running 6 miles required at least a week of meditation and a blessing from the Gods. Somehow, someway, 6 miles has become a simple stroll through the park, and 10-15 mile runs only mildly challenging. So i guess if you are going to train for a marathon, it is inevitable that you will eventually have to do some REAL long runs. I mean those 18 milers and up!

Since I am actually getting started pretty late on this blog thing, I will quickly summarize my experiences on the 15 and 17 mile runs.

Here it is: They were surprisingly easy.

…OK, lets move on to the topic at hand.

It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worse Of Times … The 20 Mile Run

I need to first say, “God Bless My Training Group!” (pictures of my group are forthcoming!)

We decided collectively to start our 20 mile run at 5am, beginning at Dangerfield Island, heading 10 miles south along the George Washington Parkway, turning around and returning home.

Besides having to get up at 4am for a 5am start, getting an early start provided several benefits. The obvious benefit being that we finished earlier and that provided all of us with the opportunity to get on with our day. But the BEST benefit is that when you start a run while it is still pitch black outside, your mind does something very funny.

Essentially, the sun comes up around 6:15-6:30, but by then we were basically 9-10 miles down the road. Your mind sees the sun and thinks, “Time to wake up!” and your immediate next thought is, “How did I end up in Mount Vernon? Oh yeah, I’ve been running for an hour and a half.” This is a VERY cool sensation!

Very cool indeed. Even cooler is I remember saying to myself, “This is REALLY EASY! Too easy in fact. Maybe this is that RUNNER’S HIGH I have heard so much about.” And I have to tell you, it felt really good!

Important Side Note

I have to say, the feeling I get from my second Patron Silver with Cointreau Margarita is STILL far better than the RUNNER’S HIGH THING, but the running high was still surprisingly good. In case you care to know, the perfect margarita is made as follows:

  • 1 can of Limeade
  • 3/4 can of Patron
  • 1/3-1/2 can of Cointreau
  • Add ice, blend and absolutely SKIP THE SALT

This margarita is actually good enough to bring to your AA Meeting! The support group is certain to give you a pass on this delicious libation! (That’s a joke, people, no nasty emails, please.)

A Dwarf Named Harold

So from mile 5 to mile 17, I am actually asking myself, “Is 26.2 miles even going to be long enough to truly challenge me? If I feel like this for much longer, I might try out for an Olympic Team or something.

But then it happened! Seconds after I began writing my own success story in my head, a little dwarf named Harold jumped out of the bushes, right there along the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, and began to beat me like I stole something. He beat me like I still owed him money and within 5 strides, I went from feeling like Usain Bolt to looking like Bill Cosby!

Harold jumped off my back, quickly disappeared and left me with about 3 miles to go and absolutely nothing in the tank! The sensation was like nothing I had ever felt. I have been physically fatigued on several occasions in the past but I have always been able to feel it coming on. This happened instantaneously, and the feeling of a dwarf, I’m sorry, little person, on my back is in no way an exaggeration.

You Might As Well Laugh About It

If I walked, I felt fine. If I attempted to run, everything hurt. My knees, my feet, my shoulders, my wrists (yes even my wrists) all hurt like my entire body was on fire.

Left with little in the tank and pain throughout my being, all I could do was smile, laugh about it, and just take my time with the last three miles. Needless to say, I eventually finished but took home 2 important lessons:

  1. I need to train a little harder during the week and try to get a few more miles in.
  2. Enjoy the runners high when you are lucky enough to experience it, but have respect for Harold and the Wall you might hit along the way.

In the end, just keep smiling … you will eventually get there.

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