Saturday, October 28, 2006

20 Miler – Finally

After several failed attempts over the past several weeks, I finally got in a good 20 miler this morning. I needed to get my youngest daughter down to the Phoenix-Tucson shuttle by 9:15, so I didn’t have time to drive over too Reach 11 Park and do it as a trail run. Instead I chose a simple 5 mile loop on major surface streets in North Phoenix. To make sure I stayed hydrated, I stole an idea from Thomas and line up 3 16 oz bottles of Gatorade behind an Irrigation Valve Box along the route. This approach let me drop off an empty bottle and pick up a new one every 5 miles.

I got out on the road at 4:40 AM and there certainly wasn’t much traffic at that time of the morning. I spent the first 2 miles warming up in the cool morning air and then settled in to a nice comfortable pace. Although I had my Garmin turned on, I wore it on my right wrist and wore a simple digital sports watch on the left. I did this to make sure that I didn’t start fretting about pace instead of focusing on making it around the 5 mile loop four times. The Garmin was just along for the ride.

The first 5 miles went by about as expected. I wasn’t pushing things real hard and averaged 9:12/mi through the first lap. At the end of the 1st lap, I picked up a 16 oz bottle on the fly and keep moving down the road. Although I had expected to finish one bottle on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th laps, it didn’t work out that way. Trying to run and drink in the dark is a trick I haven’t mastered. By the time I had 8 miles under my feet, I had only finish 1/3 of the bottle and as I was getting to the 10 mile mark at the end of the 2nd lap, I still had 8 oz of fluid in the bottle .. so I just hung onto the same bottle for the 3rd lap.

After completing the second lap, I was very conscious of being out into my trouble zone. Last week I bonk around 10 miles and argued with evil Phil a few minutes before continuing on, but I was determined to not to repeat the same argument this morning. With only a digital watch I was aware that was running sub 9:30 miles, but didn’t know exactly how fast I was going. Again, I just wanted to focus on keeping my legs moving forward for 20 miles at a pace 5-10% slower than my easy pace.

The inevitable mind games started at 12 miles. The Pfitz plan only called for 12 miles this weekend, so I knew I could give myself permission to quit at this point. All I needed to do was make a quick left turn right after 12 miles and I could be home in 10 minutes. I could just smell the pancakes I’d make for myself before anyone else in was awake. Fortunately, I put that comforting thought out of my head and kept plowing ahead towards mile 13. I also stumbled in the dark on mile 13 and felt a slight twinge in my left hamstring. In addition, my right knee was starting to hurt, probably a result of coming down hard on my right leg when my left foot caught on a rough spot in the road. I just made myself believe that the pains would go away in a mile or so and kept moving.

Along mile 14, Evil Phil started up a running dialog about how 15 miles would be a pretty good total for the morning. Good Phil kept telling him to shut up and go back to sleep. We were running 20 this morning. It was a nice day, the birds were chirping, the cars were racing past, what else could we want? Besides, Michele ran 20 miles in the driving rain earlier this week, I could certainly keep moving under these perfect conditions.

As I past mile 15, I tossed the now empty Gatorade bottle at the cache of full bottles (and missed by 10 feet) and started out on the final lap. I did a little mental arithmetic and realized I was still under 9:30/mi at 15, but would have to stay focused over the next 5 miles to make sure everything stayed that way.

Everything still felt good at mile 16 and mile 17 sailed by without difficulty. As I approached the end of mile 18, I was very much aware of how lousy I felt the last time I’d gone this far. I remembered that the microsecond my Garmin beeped at 18 miles I pulled up and walked the rest of the way. Since I was literally 2 miles from home at 18 miles today, I really didn’t have the choice to walk home and get there in time to make sure my daughter was out of bed; so on I went; only 2 miles to go.

Near the end of mile 19 a wave of tiredness flowed through my legs. It felt as if someone had shot both legs full of liquid lead to which I responded very loudly … oh S&$T, NOT TODAY! I then remembered what Mike always says when he gets tired, just SPEED UP. So I kicked it into high gear and ran the garbage out of my legs. By the time I crested the hill on mile 20 I was feeling pretty good again. My breathing was still regular and my legs were moving well.

After being on the road for over 3 hours I lost confidence that I’d actually measured the course accurately. Since I didn’t want to stop and find out that I’d only run 19.95 miles, I kept going for another 0.3 miles to the next intersection. I also grabbed another Gatorade bottle from my hydration cache as I passed the 20 mile mark. I wasn’t going to fail.

Stopping was anit-climatic, but I can’t tell you how good I felt. To many of you, running 20 miles is a weekly occurrence, but for me, it was further than I’d ever been by 2 miles and I can now toss a rather obnoxious monkey off my back. I know I can run this far. When I started running I remember talking to a runner who had completed a 16 mile run early in the day. I was running 3 miles a day at the time and I remember thinking that 16 miles was further than I would ever be able to run. Although this is a significant milestone, I can only hope that it becomes a regular occurrence in my training.

Run post mortem:

Average pace 1st 5 miles – 9:12
Average pace 2nd 5 miles – 9:25
Average pace 3rd 5 miles – 9:26
Average pace 4th 5 miles – 9:04
Fastest Mile – Mile 20 – 8:41

Training for the week:

Mon - Rest Day
Tue – 8.0 Miles, easy w/8x100m strides, 8:54/mi avg pace
Wed – 5.0 Miles, recovery, 9:00/mi avg pace
Thr – 8 .0 miles, easy, 8:39/mi avg pace
Fri – 5 .0miles, recovery, 8:58/mi avg pace
Sat – 20.2 miles, long, 9:17/mi avg pace


Anonymous said...

What a great effort, Phil, and even more impressive with that last mile.

20 milers are always big efforts, even for the ones amongst us who have done several of them (maybe apart from the likes of Mike or Andrew, but they're on a different planet).

Mike said...

What a great post to read before going out on a run myself. Great work arm-wrestling Evil Phil on this one. It sounds like you are starting to narrow down the spot where your body is starting to switch from burning primarily stored glycogen and carbs to burning fat at a higher rate. I bet you push this point further back with each of these longer runs as your body starts to figure out that it needs to burn what you've stored more sparingly.

Also, keep in mind that when nutjobs like me and Andrew do these that the time we spend on our feet running is much less, so it's not as traumatic an occurence. I probably only run over 2:40 maybe twice or three times in a build-up to a marathon myself, and you were out there a fair amount longer yesterday. Make sure you take it easy for a few days, you've earned it and you don't need to give Evil Phil any more encouragement by waking up tired for the next long run.

Again, well done. You should be proud of yourself.

Lana said...

Awesome run, Phil. Way to push the through that wall!! Great pace, too!

Love2Run said...

Hey Phil! I don't like to throw cold water on your great effort but are you having the same problem Thomas had in not being able to read and follow Pfitz's plan?? I'm very impressed with the 4am start, water bottles at the ready, gutting out the 3rd and final tough loops but .... if I read it right this was supposed to be a 'recovery' week and the 12 miles is there for a reason. That is, to be rested up for next week's tough LT run and long 18 miler. But if you're going to be too wiped to do that, you might be courting injury or under performace of the hard workouts. I think the Good Phil is being a little over anxious and sometimes the evil guy has a point ;-) (just my 2c)

Ann Ewbank said...

Congratulations! Make sure you take care of yourself- 20 miles can take a lot out of you!

Phil said...

MIke ... Thomas and I suffer from the same disease .. however, I did take a recovery day today ... so I have two recovery days before the 10 miler with 5 at 1/2 MP on Tuesday. I feel pretty good today, I feel great by Tuesday.

D said...

Nice job. Impressive mile 20! Glad to hear good Phil prevailed!

Feminist Runner said...

Good Phil vs. Evil Phil -- I think I just saw the listing in my TV Guide. Quite a face off!
I am glad good Phil prevailed, although I think he does prevail a lot more frequently than he may be given credit for.

Anonymous said...

Nice job! Way to push through that mental barrier!! Good Phil has the power!

Hope you get a nice recovery in!

Anonymous said...

You did it Phil, oustanding job!! and a great report. You really kick butt!!!

Hilda said...

You just made me miss long runs more! What a nice run, and how nice to be able to say fastest mile 20!!!! That is just incredible!

Those days running 3 miles are far uh?

carmen said...

Way to go Phil! Congrats on achieving such a milestone! I loved the dialogue between Good Phil and Evil Phil. It gave me a good chuckle for the morning and has inspired me for the semi-long run I have scheduled for this evening. :)

I love reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

Phil, what a great run. Hope you made those pancakes when you got in. You deserved them!


Anonymous said...

Great job on the 20 miles. It is a great feeling to reach that milestone (and get the monkey off your back).

BTW, there is no such thing as "perfect conditions" at 4:40 in the morning!