"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ball Don't Lie: Breaching the 20-mile Barrier

I'm a huge basketball fan. I also live within an hour of Portland, so I'm a huge Trail Blazers fan also. There was a time in the not so recently past when Rasheed Wallace was arguably the best player on the team. I didn't care. I can't stand him as a person or a basketball player. In some basketball encyclopedia yet to be written, the entry next to his name will read something like this: "Freakishly athletic, yet frustratingly lazy. Could choose to be the best player on the court, or the worst. Or the dumbest. Or the loudest. Complete waste of basketball talent."

Despite my dislike for Mr. Wallace, he has provided three of the best quotes/phrases ever uttered. And by best I mean worst.

#3: "As long as somebody CTC, at the end of the day I'm with them. For all you that don't know what CTC means, that's 'Cut the Check.' " Nice attitude. It should be noted he was making $17 million to act like a moron that year.

#2: "It do what it did." Glad that free education at the University of North Carolina is paying off.

#1: "Ball don't lie." I'll let you look it up on Urban Dictionary for its roots. I just like it.

In much the same way, the road doesn't lie. 20 miles is 20 miles (I assume this holds true for 26.2 miles, or any other distance). There's no hiding from it, no shortcuts to the end of it and no way of avoiding it. Like any distance, you're going to run (and earn) every single step.

I set out intending to run 18 miles this morning. The first nine were fairly uneventful. I thought a little bit about running 20, but decided I would let my body tell me how it was feeling. At mile 11 I passed a husband and wife from church who are training for a half marathon together. We exchanged "Good Morning's" as we approached and then the wife asked, "What mile are you on?"

Without thinking about it, the words, "11 of 20" slipped from my lips. The next thought was something to the effect of, "well, I guess I'm running 20 now."


The next few miles went by pretty quickly. I passed the 13.1 mark in about 1:43:00, a minute or so off of my PR, but acceptable, given I was intending to run more than that.

I was running low on water by the time I got to mile 15, so I dashed into a 7-11 for a refill, thinking I would quickly use the soda fountain machine and be on my way. Instead, I found myself haggling with the cashier over whether HE would fill it for me from the faucet less than five feet from where he was standing. I was friendly, but not amused. He then directed me to an outdoor faucet in the building next door and told me I could fill it there next time. Nice guy. Thanks for the boost.

The downhill slope leaving the 7-11 almost made me cry. My knees hurt so badly after standing and waiting for the water-czar to hand me my ration. A half mile later I was running back up this hill and wanted to cry again. Another quarter mile and I was loose again, but it did make me think about how I was going to feel once I finished.

I passed the 17 mile mark and ventured into new territory distance-wise. I spent a moment or two trying to convince my body that it would be alright, that I knew what I was doing. Whether anything was listening or not, I don't know. My feet seemed to keep going though, so I guess they got the message.

In my last few long runs there have been definite points where the feeling in my legs changes from smooth and comfortable to burning and lead-filled. A few weeks ago this was at the 13 mile mark. Last week it was at 15.5. Today it came at mile 19. It made for a pretty miserable last mile, but I gutted it out and made it to 20. I'm pleased that this feeling is coming on later and later and presume this is due to my body getting used to the longer distances.

I'm pleased with my effort and the resulting 7:58 pace. Six more miles puts me right about 3 1/2 hours for a marathon finish which is where I hope to be. A few minor stomach cramps along the way, but nothing like last week. I had a good recovery day. Lots of smoothies and fruit and lots of activity. I feel worse when I sit around. I've got to be up and moving around either in the house, out on a walk, in my yard/garden, whatever. Just got to do something.

Seven weeks to go. My first 20-miler completed and out of the way. Next Saturday will be a bit shorter (15-16) and then we'll be back to 20 the week after. 49 days. That seems close. I'm feeling more and more confident though.

Week 15 begins in 48 hours.

Until then...

1 comment:

dovh49 said...

Your knees hurt? Try some hip exercises (3 times a week). They help me out quite a bit. Also running with the ball of your feet striking the ground first should help and running leaning forward should help. Most people strike with the heel which is extremely bad for your knees and lower back. Best of luck.

Your mile times our awesome, I was looking back at my old times and wished I could be back there again (7:40 minute miles for a 10k) I'm over 10 minute miles right now as I properly get back into shape (I hurt my knee snow boarding back in the day and have never been the same since, just look at by belly).

Jon (your bro-in-law)