Technically, Saturday should have been my second 20-miler of 2012, but life got in the way a few weeks ago, between C falling ill on Friday-Saturday and then A falling ill and getting hospitalized Saturday-Sunday. How funny (or maybe ironic is a better way to look at it) that the second week I’m to do my 20 I also fall ill days before.
This time, though, I pulled through.
I told my loved ones (and myself) and my training partner that the full 20 might not happen, given that I was a bit laid-up earlier in the week and that the EZ 5 on Friday seemed pretty tough. In my mind, I didn’t think I’d do much beyond 13 or 15 on Saturday, and I was ok with that. This training plan I’m following calls for 3 20s, which is aggressive in a 14-week program but totally doable and something I’ve done before in previous marathoning trainings.
Perhaps contrary to popular belief (or common sense), I don’t think 20s are the hardest runs of the marathon training cycle. 20s bring with them a sense of accomplishment but also a lot of fanfare:
- it’s the longest distance (or the longest time you’ll spend on your feet) during your training cycle.
- If your body can handle 20, then it can surely handle 26.2.
- A 20 training run is very different than, say, a 20 race. Typically, you’re more concerned with the time you spend on your feet in training, whereas in racing, you’re racing, so speed is of the essence.
I could easily continue to rant on this. At any rate, what transpired on Saturday morning was a delightful and welcome surprise. The coolish, crispish air of a late March morning in Chicago was perfect for a 20. It was warm enough (or humid enough) to run in shorts and a tank, but the sun was nowhere to be seen. The fog was dense and thick, so while I knew we were running from Museum Campus south to MSI, and then north to the bridge at North Avenue, before heading south again, I felt like we were running through the clouds. Time or pace wasn’t particularly important, since we knew we weren’t trying to race this and since both of us were racing in the Shuffle the following day, but we still went at a good training clip, oscillating between 8:50s and 9s on average. And, maybe best of all, or at least worth mentioning, though I still had a bit of a cough and some runny nose action and a little stuffiness in my head leftover from the sinusitis I was rockin’ earlier in the week, I felt fine. Pretty well, even.
This 20 delightfully surprised me. It was my first of 2012 and only my second since my first post-pregnancy 20 that I ran in Barrington with Chris in November, helping her in her final prep for her Hawaii marathon. Even though I haven’t been pregnant for nearly a year now, and my body is more or less back to normal (which is a post I’ve been meaning to write), I still feel some strange bit of hesitation as I find myself full-tilt back into marathoning and training. I guess if nothing else, being pregnant, and having a healthy pregnancy from start to finish, has made me appreciate the human body–my human body–for everything that it can do when needed or asked.
Just as that sentiment became apparent to me during pregnancy and childbirth, so, too, but to a lesser degree, did it also manifest on Saturday’s 20.