Christmas Eve 20-Miler

I just finished my second 20-miler in two weeks’ time, and this one was not all hearts-and-flowers like the first one, but it’s another accomplishment and I’m proud to have finished!

We are visiting my husband’s family for Christmas, so I revisited the running trail along the Red River where I did a 13-miler in October. It’s a 4.3-mile trail one way and 8.6 miles when you do it out-and-back, so I did that twice, then added a couple of extra miles at the end to get to 20. It did get a little boring, but I am so tired of my usual long run place back home that it was a welcome change.

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I thought I might be the only crazy person out there on Christmas Eve, but there were several other runners and walkers. I saw one runner several times as we passed each other going opposite directions on the trail. From my calculations he ran at least 12 miles. The third time we passed each other, he said, “Good job!”

The first 8 miles or so were uneventful, but right around mile 9 my left IT band – the one that was injured for about two months this summer – started feeling super tight and aching. I ended up having to stop about five times throughout the remaining 11 miles to stretch it out. 😦

I was pretty annoyed with my IT band and desperate to be done around mile 17, when it started raining! It was about 40 degrees when I started my run, and windy, so the rain was cold and pretty demoralizing. I admit I almost started to cry at 19 miles because doing one more mile in the rain with this bum IT band seemed like torture.

Finally and mercifully, my Garmin hit 20.00 and I was done!

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Some things notable about this run that I need to remember:

1) I fueled beforehand with a whole wheat bagel and peanut butter, about 360-400 calories. I was worried this would be too heavy, but I gave myself about 40 minutes to digest and it was fine. I think this is definitely going to be my Marathon Morning breakfast.

2) I took a PowerBar Energy Gel 15 minutes before the run and a GU at 9 miles. Didn’t have a problem with either.

3) My water stops were limited. There was a water fountain at Mile 2 on the trail, but that was it. So I’d hit the water at Mile 2, the run another 2.3 miles to the end of the trail, turn around and run 2.3 miles before I got back to the water fountain. And I had to run the full 8.6 miles before I could get back to my car where I had Powerade. I ran with a Camelbak the last time I did this trail, but I didn’t love it. This turned out OK because it was so cold, but I’m glad the marathon will have more frequent water stops.

4) I really need to give my IT band some TLC these next three weeks and focus on foam rolling and icing it even if it doesn’t hurt. Dealing with an aching IT band during the marathon would be a HUGE frustration.

5) When running in the cold, I’d rather be a little overdressed than underdressed. I ran with a long-sleeve Nike top and a fleece jacket on top, and it was a little too warm at times, but I tried switching it out with a lighter, spandex jacket at Mile 9 and immediately determined it was not enough, and put the fleece back on.

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Now that I’m looking at this picture of what I saw out my windshield as I prepared to go home, I am thankful to be done and warm!

Merry Christmas!

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