It's been a couple of days but the glow of Sunday's 20-miler has not worn off. Not only did I prove to myself how good of shape I am in but I also showed myself what some preparation, focus and determination can lead to.
Now, when I was done with the run I called it the best training run I've ever had. And I mean it. I've had some really good training runs, runs that left me surprised with what I'd accomplished or wondering where I got some strength/speed from but this one topped them all.
Not only did I finish in a good time but I also, for the first time, was not completely wiped out at the end of the run. I really feel like I could have gone a few more miles. Who knows, maybe I had 26.2 miles in me that day.
What I do know is that it's just another sign of my progression as a runner. 20 miles is a distance I've only run five times prior (I've done a pair of 22-mile runs but I'm leaving those out for now). If you compare Sunday's run to them... well, there really is little comparison.
12/20/09 - 20 miles, 3:44:00 - 11:11 pace
This was my first-ever 20-mile run. It's my slowest time, which is to be expected. My goal here was exactly as it should have been - to finish. I finished. I was proud of myself and I slept for hours afterward.
6/20/10 - 20.00 - 3:38:99 - 10:54
This one was rough. First, I ran all 20 miles alone. And when I say alone, I mean alone - nobody with me, down a desolate and lonely road all the way for 10 miles and then turn around and run 10 miles back with nothing to see. I foolishly did not have my Garmin with me so that threw me off. I felt so bad after this one physically that, combined with the mental anguish I felt, that I shed some tears afterward. No way I could have run another step.
1/02/11 - 20.11 - 3:29:32 - 10:25
My first run of 2011 was a 20-miler, so to add some spice to it I decided to make it a 20.11 mile run. Ha. I felt good afterward. I was in the midst of training for Surf City and had logged a lot of miles, making the experience better for me.
1/16/11 - 20.01 - 3:31:12 - 10:33
Instead of running 22 miles as my final pre-marathon run, I decided to run 20. I figured it was about the same. My group was supposed to have run 14 that day so I ran six alone beforehand, then ran with the group for the final 14. It was hard and I faded the last 3-4 miles.
3/20/11 - 20.05 - 3:41:39 - 11:03 pace
This was possibly the toughest of them all. More so than just physically, mentally I was spent well before this run even started. I'd just run Surf City and now was training for Diamond Valley Lake and my mind wasn't all the way into it. I decided to just run for the heck of it and set out on a as-long-as-I-get-20-miles-done-I'm-happy run. I ran 10 miles on the track at the high school and finished less than three minutes faster than my first-ever 20-miler.
1/22/11 - 20.06 - 3:15:56 - 9:46 pace
In all the previous runs, I couldn't have kept going afterward. I mean, if my life depended on it, I could have, but that's about it. But in my last 20-miler I felt great and I most definitely could have kept running. I chewed up the mileage without really worrying about what distance I was, what my pace was, how fast I'd run the last mile in... I ran with my phone/running app of course but didn't pay a whole lot of attention to what the statistics said. I knew at times I was running faster than I should have and I knew at others that I was running a bit slower than I'd been but I always felt strong, always felt like my legs had plenty left to give. At the end, I ran fast and finished my last mile in 8:15. That's pretty fast considering I'd run 19 miles already. Also, the time is in my favor for the last run. I beat my previous best time by almost a full 15 minutes.
So.... the question is this... will this mean that I will have a great LA Marathon? Well, I don't want to go there yet. I have to keep my focus on what's coming up, and that race is not quite coming up just yet. My next big test will be the 22-mile run, our last long training run before we hit LA. That's on Feb. 26. But there are many, many runs before then so I will not allow myself to ponder that just yet.
For now, I will take this 20-mile run as a reminder that I am in top shape and that if I want to stay there I have to keep working hard.