24 Miles Down- One Marathon to Go!

I finished my final long training run for the 2011 NYC Marathon this past weekend- 24 miles done and no more incredibly long runs until marathon day! Can you hear the excitement in my voice? 3 more weeks and I get to take on one of the most amazing races in the world.

The preparation for my run was pretty much abysmal. I ran a 5K the day before with my 7 year old daughter. I’d promised her months ago that I’d run our town’s annual 5K with her and she had 2 friends running it too so there was no way I could back out. Plus, running with her is the best thing in the world so I didn’t want to miss it. I figured that although she’s pretty good she would walk a decent amount so I wouldn’t be too tired. Well, I was dead wrong. She decided she wanted to run this race “by herself” and before we reached halfway she’d pulled a good 100 yards ahead of me. I kept figuring I’d catch up to her when she walked, but she barely walked. As we turned up the big hill towards the finish I was certain she’d walk and I’d catch her, but she didn’t. Then as she started down the hill she sprinted to the finish line, blowing past two adult women and leaving me completely in the dust. She finished in about 29 minutes and my prediction that she’d be able to beat me next year was proven wrong. She’d beaten me outright in this race! I was officially beaten by a 7 year old. How humbling and cool is that at the same time? After the race I coached my younger daughter’s soccer team and then acted as linesman for my 7 year old’s soccer game. Not smart to say the least!

So after being put in place by my 7 year old the day before, on Sunday I set out to run my last long training run before the marathon- 24 miles. Saying I was nervous is an understatement. I had mapped out an 8 mile loop around my house and got started. I quickly realized just how much that 5K had taken its toll. I hadn’t tried to push it, but my legs were like lead. They didn’t want to move at all. As I continued my brain was telling me over and over that I couldn’t do this today. I didn’t have it in me. I was not a runner. About 2.5 miles in I decided to change it up and run my usual 6 mile loop 4 times. I know this route well and felt that I would need the extra incentive of finishing loops a little faster. I knew I needed to do everything in my power to counteract the negativity running rampant in my brain. My hope was that by reaching the end of a loop milestone a little sooner I’d be able to keep my spirits up.

By the time I finished my first 6 mile loop my legs weren’t loosened up. They still felt awful and I wanted to quit. As I refilled my water bottle my hubby gave me an encouraging pep talk and when I whined told me to stop the pity party and get going. I snapped something back at him, but he was right so I got back out on the road and started loop number two.

At about 10 miles I had pretty much convinced myself that I would quit after this loop. I wasn’t good enough, at least not today. Then something funny happened. I hit a short downhill and everything seemed better. In that short minute or so I felt so much more powerful and started telling myself I could do it. I was a runner and I was strong.

After that, the rest of loop 2 and loop 3 went well. My legs were tired, but my mental state was lightyears better. I filled my water bottle up one last time and set out for my last 6 mile loop almost smiling. I was so excited that this was my last loop.

I started focusing on getting to the 3 mile mark of this loop. When I reached it I did a small fist pump in the air as I knew I’d finished 21 miles and then started the climb back up the hill I’d just run down. I knew this hill was the last real hill of my run and was determined to climb it, albeit slowly. Then I started focusing on each mile. Soon I reached the point of only 2 miles left and then amazingly I was at the 1 mile mark. That seemed almost surreal. I had only 1 more mile to go. I told myself to keep going. I couldn’t quit now. I kept telling myself this was the last long training run I’d ever have to do. I don’t have to do anymore marathons after this if I don’t want to.

When I crossed the main street to get back into my section of town I had about 4 blocks left to go and I was psyched. My legs were on fire, but I was going to finish this run.

As I turned onto my street I saw one of my daughter’s best friends outside her house with her parents and they all cheered for me. They knew I was almost finished and I’m sure I looked dead. Then my daughter’s 7 year old friend started running with me. She ran the rest of the block with me and gave me a high five as I finished up at the corner. I am sure I was smiling broadly. Her helping me finish my last long run was just awesome. I’m sure I would have been cursing that last block without her help. It’s just amazing how after running close to 5 hours the last minute can be the most moving and how much a simple gesture from a 7 year old can mean the world to you. Thanks C! You’re the best!

As I walked into my house for the last time my daughters came running down the stairs cheering, not for me, but they were cheering at least. Little Rachael immediately asked if I’d go for a bike ride with her. When I had to decline her generous invitation they both asked if I’d come play with them. Ah… I guess I look like supermom to them, but alas the ice bath was calling instead. The bike ride will have to wait until after I finish the full 26.2. I’m sure I’ll be up for a few additional miles on a bike that day.

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4 Responses to 24 Miles Down- One Marathon to Go!

  1. Kristen says:

    You are so ready to rock that marathon, Karen! Great job on that 24 mile run! I only went up to 20 miles with both of my marathons and I wish I had done a longer run so I’d feel more prepared, mentally as much as physically. That’s so awesome that you ran a race with your daughter. What a fun thing to do! I look forward to running with Zain next to me one day instead of having to push him :) .

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Kristen! The 24 mile length was definitely needed mentally. It has really helped me believe that I will do well in the marathon. Zain will be running with you sooner than you know.

  2. Carrie says:

    Fantastic that you pushed through and completed your run. You did this and you will rock that marathon. Counting the days now instead of weeks…

  3. Jeannie says:

    Wow! Amazing to do a 24 mile long run! My longest training run so far has been 22 miles! Can’t imagine the recovery especially after running a 5K and being on your feet a lot the day before. I am usually moody and wiped out the day after a run that long. Way to go and wishing all the best in the weeks to come! Now, wishing Ihad an amazing cheering squad like that too. :)