Thanks to facebook and blogs I was able to connect with an awesome gal who lives about 40 minutes from me who is also running Grandma's in a few weeks. When she read about Taber's injury she invited me to join her and another friend on their last 20 miler so I wouldn't have to run alone. This was a huge blessing because I have never run more than 8 miles by myself and I was really dreading doing 20 miles solo!!
My running buddies wanted to meet Saturday morning at 6:00am at a park about 30 minutes away from where I live. That meant I'd have to be ready and out the door at 5:30 a.m. Which meant I needed to be in bed by 9pm the night before. Getting to bed early was going to be tricky because on Friday night we were babysitting 3 extra kids (one who was actually sleeping over) So it was all business making sure everyone was fed bathed and in bed in time for me to get my running gear together and get myself to bed at a decent hour. Taber was awesome, making sure I carbo loaded amidst the chaos and taking over kictchen duty so I could get to bed. He continued his awesomeness the next morning by watching not only our two girls but two of their friends (ages 3 and 11 months) while I ran. Yeah, that's basically like watching two sets of twins under the age of 3, alone!!! He totally earned the husband of the year award for that stint!!
So anyway, I got a great night of sleep and was out the door at 5:30 to meet with my friends, Jessica, a 6 ft 2 former college basketball player and Rebecca, a 44 year old marathoner who doesn't look a day over 30! It's funny because even though I log a lot of miles these days and can even keep a decent pace it's still hard for me to think of myself as a runner. So I was pretty intimated by these ladies when I first got there and was praying I could keep up with them for 20 miles! As we clipped along at a 9 minute mile pace I actually felt really good and my confidence started building. I don't know if you've ever seen the movie What About Bob when Bill Murray is tied to the mast of a sailboat and he's shouting, "I'm sailing!!! I'm a sailor! I sail!!!" Well anyway, that's how I felt while my feet pounded the pavement between these two ladies, "I'm a runner!! I'm running!!! I RUN!!!" It was kind of a cool moment.
The trail was beautiful with some good little hills and plenty of shade and nice scenery. In the beginning we were all really chatty and took several short stops for stretching and water. As the miles tallied up though the conversation slowed down and our concentration shifted towards putting one foot in front of the other. By mile 16 we were all feeling it. We took one last quick stop and then Jessica said if she stopped again she wouldn't be able to start up again. I knew the same was true for me so I strapped on the fuel belt, turned up the iPod and put my body into auto pilot. I was so glad I wasn't by myself for those last 4 miles. There's something about running in a group that bouys you up and pulls you along. On our last two miles Rebecca got a cramp and fell back. Still I just kept an imaginary rope tethering me to Jessica knowing that I could keep going as long as she was. There was a really steep hill on the course and when we got to the top of it for the last time with just a mile to go I started to smile! Jessica let out a celebratory "Wooo!" and said, "just one mile to go, we've got this!" I knew she was right, and I was celebrating too.
When we finished the loop we actually ended up with 21 miles in 3:15 minutes. That's including all our stops for potty, stretching and drinks. I'm pretty sure we were doing close to a 9 minute mile pace while we ran so if you take 9 minutes off of that then I'm guessing we did our 20 miles in about 3:06 minutes (including stops.) As soon as we stopped running my muslces tightenend up and I had to limp to my car to get my water bottle. It's weird how I can feel really good while I'm running but right when I stop my body freaks out. My lower back and quads hurt the worst (as usual) but my calves were putting up some good complaints and my knees were begging for ice. We stretched out a little then I got back in the car for the 30 minute drive home. I ended up stopping half way there to stretch out and get a smoothie because after your burn 2700 calories in a workout you've gotta replenish right?
When I got home, more stretching, more ice, Aleve, and a big fat Culver's oreo milkshake (what? I earned it!) I wore my knee braces for the rest of the day and took it easy on the stairs but overall I actually feel pretty good. I'm still just kind of in shock that I ran 20 miles! Could I go 6.2 more? Guess I'll have to in three weeks. I think I can though. Every time I do one of these long runs I'm always amazed at what my body can actually do. It's like my quote says at the top of my blog, you can go a lot farther than you think you can't! I'm living proof of that!