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24 Miles is Just Like 20 Miles, Just a Whole Lot Farther!

As we move closer to the actual marathon, we continue to up the ante on the long runs. What were once 12 mile runs on the weekend, quickly moved to 15, then 17, then 20, then 23, and here we were getting ready to actually run 26 miles!!! Going in, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t run the full 26. I know myself too well. If I run 26 today then why would I decide to run it again in 4 weeks? That’s crazy talk! I understand the concept, running 26 miles today would give me the confidence to do it again come marathon time.

On the other hand, you wouldn’t ask Jay Z to do a second take after a flawless rip on the first. And yes, me and Jay Z got alot in common!

So I’ve ruled out 26, and coincidentally, my group leader is lobbying for us to do 24. Sounds good to me. But in the back of my mind, there was the OTHER philosophy held by many marathoners, “there is really no need to run over 20-22 miles before your marathon.” So as we lined up, I was certain I would run no less than 20, and certainly no more than 24.

Let me take a moment to digress if I may

For all of you sane people who have absolutely no interest in ever running 20 miles or more, let me answer a common misconception. “Is there REALLY a difference between running 20 miles and 24 miles? It’s ONLY 4 little miles?!?”

Let me answer it this way. Saying “it’s only 4 little miles” is like your surfing instructor telling you, “It’s only a small shark.” What?!? That little shark will still bite and it will hurt alot, just like an additional 4 miles!

Perhaps that didn’t resonate. Let’s look at it this way. 4 miles is roughly equal to 40 MORE minutes of running. 40 minutes of running on a treadmill is a daunting task for most, and that’s not accounting for the 3 1/2 hours of running you will have already clocked as you reach the 20 mile mark.

So YES! There is a considerable difference between 20 and 24 miles.

Back to our very long run

Going in, I was as prepared as I could possibly be:

  • I had put in some type of run 4 of the previous 5 days
  • I had my sports massage
  • Got adjusted by my chiropractor
  • Had my physical therapist work on my knees
  • Ate right
  • Got quality rest
  • …and hydrated plenty

So for the first 6 or so miles, I felt great. But coming into the 7-8 mile point, I started to feel a little “tart” in my stomach. “Tart” turned to “heavy” and “heavy” turned to downright uncomfortable. I was baffled as I had no idea what could have caused the considerable pain growing in my belly. I had been eating the same “running food” that I always ate but on this day, it wasn’t sitting so well.

Pushing towards the 10 mile point, my decision was made. I was going to reach the 10 mile point and start heading back. I would rather finish a 20 mile run feeling relatively good than risk attempting to tackle the new miles on a really bad stomach.

I felt like I was doing ok until I ran into Harold again

Suffice it to say, I believe most people don’t feel very good after running 17 miles. Now if you add to the physical discomfort, an upset stomach…well, let me not get too graphic. Realizing I was coming into the homestretch of my run, I had the misfortune once again of running into Harold, the dwarf who put the serious beat down on me a few weeks earlier.

But instead of bringing additional pain, a strange thing happened.

Harold turned my way, considered dishing out some more abuse, but instead, assessed the situation.

“You look like you’re hurting son,” Harold said.

“Yep,” I replied.

“Looks like you got a sour stomach. Well, it wouldn’t be too much fun to kick you around now, it would be too easy. Kind of like punching a baby in the face, how could I feel good about that?” Harold lectured.

“I’ll probably see you next weekend, but could you do us all a favor, and try to keep it swallowed.”

Don’t let Harold’s moment of civility fool you. I still don’t like him.

Despite stomach issues…

So despite the usual soreness associated with prolonged running, and setting aside the stomach discomfort usually remedied with Pepto Bismol, I felt surprisingly good, all things considered. I still needed to sit in the ice bath, take a hot shower and pass out for about an hour, but this long run felt far better than the last few.

And with exactly 1 month to go, I know that I am going to finish. I just hope to do it as painlessly as possible.

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