Chicago Marathon Training W13D4 − 20 Miles
Some quick math last night told me that I needed a 4:45 alarm this morning. That’s earlier than usual, but I wanted to be on the run the minute there was anything resembling daylight to work with. I took a shower, and had a whole wheat bagel and an egg. And coffee, always coffee. I laced up and was out the door by 5:30.
Since I didn’t have Boardtown’s support to count on today, I had made two drop bags with water and Gatorade. I drove out to the route I had planned, and placed one at the five mile marker. I left the other one with the car at the start/finish. I was doing two laps of a ten mile circuit, so that meant I would have provisions at 5, 10, 15, and 20. Setting everything up is time consuming, but I was ready to start by 6:00, when the sky had just started to lighten up.
I’ve never run exactly this route before, but I chose it because it has mostly paved roads, and still avoids the Friday morning traffic which was a bit of a problem on my last solo long run. Mount Olive to Pike, Pike to Blocker, Blocker to Bethel, Bethel to Mount Olive. Almost a perfect rectangle.
The first few miles were great. It was only about 66º, and I was feeling sharp. I decided to try to go heavy on the calories and fluids today, so I took Gu every four miles and 20oz of Gatorade every 5. Plus water from my handheld which I refilled at every stop.
It was a beautiful morning, with fog in the valleys, and when the sunrise caught up to me about Mile 5, I couldn’t help but stop and take a few pictures. I was keeping up a steady race pace +60-90s, which is what my plan prescribes for long runs. Which conveniently meant I just needed to finish in under 4 hours.
I got to the end of my first loop right on schedule, quickly refilled my supplies, and set off again. I was worried it would be a little boring going around twice, but it wasn’t really any worse than an out-and-back, and you’d be surprised the different things you notice a couple of hours later.
By Mile 15, it definitely wasn’t cool anymore, and I was sweating pretty heavily. We tend to get big temperature swings around here this time of year, and it was creeping into the lower 80’s which is about the point that I usually start to struggle.
I kept to the shade as much as I could for the last five miles, and when the turn for the car came I was happy to see it. The end felt like the end of a long run should. I was tired, but not exhausted. I felt like I had pushed myself, but that I could keep going if the situation called for it. That’s a big confidence boost as we get close to race day, knowing that in Chicago there won’t be any hills, and with any luck at all it will be much cooler.
I made it home to my ice bath and chocolate milk, took a short nap, and ate a giant burger and fries. Because running does have its rewards.
Only one more long run left, the second 20 miler two weeks from now, and then blessed taper can begin.