On many roads, there is a camber where the sides are angled up to the middle, which is a little flat. While, traditionally, running in the middle of the road isn’t the safest place for a pedestrian, this middle part is really the best spot for running. Running flat helps avoid undue strain and helps to stabilize your stride. Many runners will experience IT pain while running for a long distance on the side of a road with a steep camber. I spent my 20 miler running in the middle. I’d move out of the way for cars, but for the most part, this runner ruled the roads in the Evansville countryside.
Saturday’s run was the longest I’ve ever run without having IT pain, which is incredibly encouraging. It was a long, slow run on a course that I typically ride my bike on. Even though I’m familiar with the course, it was a totally different experience running it.
I had to get up pretty early in order to get my run in and still be available for other commitments I had on Saturday. When I started running at 5:45, my headlamp was the only light around. When the sun started rising a few miles in, it revealed the low, dense fog that was making everything moist and invisible. It was incredible. The roads I was running on rolled in and out of the white-out fog, which was slow to reveal the fields surrounding me. When I was above the fog, I could see that the sun was illuminating everything in vibrant yellow, green, and blue. When I was back into the fog, everything was spooky and wet.
Eventually, the sun burned away all remnants of fog, and everything was brightly lit under a clear, blue sky. After that happened, everything settled into a regular ol’ run – just much longer. 20 miles is a really long way. The hills out there are long and relentless, and there were times when I wanted to stop and walk or take a short cut. But in those times of doubt, I fixed my eyes on the long road stretching in front of me and kept on running.
I did bring a banana along with me, like I mentioned I would. That was a great idea. I started eating it at mile 10, and let it last for a few miles. I didn’t think that eating an entire banana all at once while I was running would work out too well.
I got back to my car, safe and tired. I was sore, but not more than I should have been. While the run took me more than three hours to complete, other than the sun rise and fog, there isn’t much to talk about – which is good. I would have liked to have had woodland folk such as deer or elk running along with me, but barring that, I’ll take an uneventful long run over something stressful any day.
20 days to go!
In the final days leading to my marathon, I’ll be doing a lot of work on my legs and core. And by work I don’t mean just strength work. I’ll be making sure my legs are prepared to withstand 26.2 miles of pounding. In addition to my regular running during the weeks, proper focus on stretching, rolling, and other conditioning exercises will be important.
I’ll be cleaning up my nutrition as well – eating as clean as possible for the next few weeks. Carb-loading is a thing, but it’s not about eating a giant plate of fettucini alfredo moments before the race, or even for dinner the night before. It’s a little more strategic than that, and I’ll be getting into it pretty soon.
Carb-loading is not like this…
This coming weekend, Ashley and I are running in the Evansville Half Marathon. I’m sure we’ll see some of you there! We’re pretty excited about this, as we’ve never done a long run like this locally. It’s going to be very nice to be in familiar territory, having slept in my own bed the night before. We’ll even ride our bikes to the event, so there will be virtually no stress with having to find parking or anything like that. The next weekend, I have 10 miles on the schedule, and then it’s time for the big 26.2.
While this isn’t my first marathon, I always find it helpful to review any literature about how to approach a big run like this. My favorite so far can be found here. The Oatmeal is a great source of information for anything from grammar and science to running and animals.