Saturday, August 27, 2016

Blue Line 20 Miler!

The moment I have been dreading anticipating had finally arrived this morning: my first 20 mile training run.  I saved this moment for the Vertical Runner/NEOFit Blue Line Run, an annual tradition in Akron where about 300 runners follow a shortened version of the Akron Half or Full Marathon by running the Blue Line painted on the course.

It is literally a blue line painted throughout Akron.

It is really a wonderful event.  Vertical Runner raffles an entry to the Akron Marathon, and NEOFit mans the fluid stations on the course, and it's all free!

I was nervous about this run because the longest run I had done previous to it was 17 miles.  I thought I would feel confident after completing the Ragnar WV Trail Relay, but actually I felt worse because I was worried that I might have jacked up my foot on the trail.  Plus, I had the most exhausting week EVER: three open houses + my daughter's first football game in the marching band.  I didn't go to the game, but I waited up until she got home around midnight.  I don't think I got more than four hours of sleep on any given night this week.  All of these factors combined made for a very anxious Stephani this morning at 7:00.

Do you see me in this picture?  You shouldn't because somehow I missed the photo-opp.

I ran with Shelby and Sydney for the first ten miles.  We took it nice and slow, stopping to fuel at the first NEOFit aid station at 6.5 miles.  We kept up our predicted marathon pace for a while, and at mile 10 Sydney decided to drop back.

Honestly, I felt great up until mile 15; then I started aching, and I could feel a lot chafing in areas where you really don't want to feel anything at all.  It was hot, and the hills were starting.  Shelby could sense that I was shutting down, so she tried to distract me by talking about food, which normally works.  This time, though, I just couldn't concentrate enough to talk or even think about anything.  I needed to "go dark," which is my way of shutting down and concentrating on my breathing and my body.  I told Shelby what I was doing, and luckily she understood.  I just concentrated on making it to the mile 17 aid station, where I would allow myself to fuel and stretch.

One of my goals for the marathon is to only walk during fueling, and today I failed.  There were three short hills in miles 16, 18, and 19 where I just needed to walk a bit.  In mile 16 I needed to stretch my hamstrings, so I walked to take long strides. In miles 18 and 19 I was in a lot of pain and I needed to take some walking breaks.  None of them lasted more than a quarter mile, but there it is.

We finished twenty miles in 3:35:54.  Not bad, really.  I felt terrible when we finished--dizzy, lots of pain in my calves and my chafing areas.  Shelby and I stretched while I drank a protein shake, and then we celebrated with a selfie:

A photo posted by Stephani Itibrout (@itibrout) on

I would like to say that this run gave me a lot of confidence for the marathon, but it really hasn't.  The whole day I've been wondering how I can possibly do SIX-POINT-TWO MORE MILES than I did today.  Shelby reminded me that the weather will be much better at the end of September, and it is true that my runs are pretty much bound by the weather.  The responses to my social media posts have also shown me that others (who are much more experienced than I am) were in just as much pain, so maybe it isn't just me, and maybe this is a typical experience.  If so, I hope it bodes well for the marathon.

I have spent the day alternating between moving around and resting:

And I finished my day with a dirty martini:

I'd like to thank Vertical Runner and NEOFit for a great event.  The volunteers were so great, and the water was cold! Now I'm going to "go dark" and stop analyzing everything I do. I've got four weeks until the race, and I will continue to do my best to train for it.

Until then, run happy, Peeps!

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