As I did after my 18-mile run, this will serve as my 20-mile run recap and the motivational Monday post, since I have set a new bar for myself, and that's quite motivating.
To say I was nervous before Sunday's run would have been saying that I was running a long way. I felt knots in my stomach all week, and Saturday took it to a whole new level. I was distracted all day as all I kept thinking about was the run, the distance, the potential setbacks...
I barely slept on Saturday night, as is usually the case before big runs or races. I got the coffee ready for Mrs. LB, gathered all of my stuff and left my house at 6 a.m. By 6:30, I was listening to the site director talking about our run. I tried to fool myself into thinking it was only going to be a 12- or 15-mile run.
But of course that made no difference, and when we lined up to start, I knew I was in for a long, long run.
My blog buddy Angie of Angie Eats Peace was along for the run as well as about 15 others. For the first six, seven miles, there wasn't much difference to our run. We meandered through the same, sleepy streets we usually do in Loma Linda, stopped at the usual water stops, and took the same walk breaks at the same spots we usually do.
At about Mile 8, however, we took a detour off the beaten path. We ran on a trail, and it was the first time I'd run on this particular trail. I'm not much of a trail runner simply because I don't seek them out, but this wasn't too bad. But as we turned off, one of the veteran Lopers referred to it as the Meth Lab Trail, and that women shouldn't run this trail alone.
Hey, this is like the Mud Run!
The trail carved a path through an otherwise nondescript hill, covered in drab brown brush. There were some obstacles on the trail - tumbleweed, patches of mud, rocks - but it wasn't anything we couldn't handle.
Up ahead, I saw why it was called the Meth Lab Trail. There was some sort of dwelling surrounded by a graveyard of RVs. Immediately around this strange collection of buildings and worn-out vehicles was nothing but the same drab brown brush that had reminded me of the Camp Pendleton Mud Run.
Because this trail is in relative isolation and far off the main road, which itself isn't that highly-traveled, it's not necessarily the greatest spot to go running alone, particularly with this strange Meth Lab-looking patch.
We came to the end of the trail but hopped a gate and swung around the other side to run on a wider trail parallel to the Meth Lab, except this looked like a dirt road.
I glanced at The Garmin.
Only 10 more miles to go.
While it didn't feel like those miles necessarily flew by, they were in the books. But since this wasn't an out-and-back run, we had to run a little longer in order to get back to our original path. Once out on the street, the rest of the run was like normal. I'd run down this far multiple times, so the unfamiliarity element of my 20-mile run wasn't there in terms of my route. Unlike my previous Longest Run Ever - whose status as such was quickly diminishing - I knew this course well. I knew what to expect as far as the path.
Alright, we've done a half!
I really need to learn how to maximize The Garmin because I don't keep track of my splits but we'd finished off 13.1 miles in about 2 hours 22 minutes. But there was no hoopla for this 13.1 miles, only the thought that there was about 6.9 miles remaining.
We came upon some bathrooms at a small park we trotted past and I made a dash for them. I'd been feeling the need to go for some time but was able to suppress the urge, but figured it'd be better to go and run the rest of the time without that pesky feeling, so I did.
Wow. This is the first time I've gone in an actual bathroom during a run.
Feeling about a pound lighter, I ran up to the rest of the group. When I'd caught up to them, I felt a bit spent. We weren't quite yet at 15 miles, and by the time we got up an incline and out on a busy street, I started to feel something. It grew into something more about a mile later.
It crept along slowly, and by about 14.5 miles it was in full effect.
I've only ran more than 15 miles once.
By now, 15 miles does not seem like a distance I can't scale. I've run at least 15 miles three times maybe, and this would be the fourth. But more than 15, well, there's just one time I've done that.
I remembered how I felt at the end of that 18-miler, the Cedar River Run. I was spent at the end of that one, and the last two miles were particularly tough. Would I have enough gas left in me to make it to 18 and then run two miles past that?
We stopped for a moment after about 16.5 miles and then about a mile later, and after both times it was tough to get re-started. My legs were increasingly growing heavier. But the rest of me felt great.
At this point, I felt a bit saddened. For nearly one month, the Cedar River Run had held the top spot in my Longest Run Ever list. But now, that run was about to be surpassed and I had and have such fond memories of the Seattle 18-miler that I was a bit saddened to kiss it farewell.
But that moment, just like the 18-mile mark, came and went.
"Is this a new high for you?" Angie asked.
The Garmin read 18.01, and I smiled.
It felt good to have set a new bar for myself, but this bar wasn't exactly done yet. We had to traverse another two miles and my feet were lead weights at this point. Hopping on and off curbs was a task in and of itself, but before I knew it we were close. Very close. I was at 19.38 when I let myself think about the finish; 19.5 and I figured a half-mile would be nothing; 19.75 and all I had to do was one lap around the track; 19.91... well, I realized at this point that I had been looking at The Garmin too often, but it didn't really matter. I felt strong and forced myself to get to the finish before looking at the mileage once again.
About five members of our group had finished when I got to them. I stopped running, finally, and The Garmin read 20.03.
I can't believe I made it.