The Final 20 and an 8 Miler

As of yesterday, the hardest part of marathon training was complete. It was my final 20 miler before the big day on May 31st. Though I have done a few 20 milers prior to yesterday's, I think this one was the most difficult. It was the first which was above 70 degrees. And phew...was it humid.

I tried to begin as early as my body would let me, minutes before 7 am. I knew it was going to be uncomfortable and I knew that the sweat would pour, but I tried to remain optimistic. It was the final long run.

I brought my Camelbak and I am so thankful that they exist. I am not a fan of the sloshy noises that it makes, but my iPod was cranked enough to tune it out. Besides, I think that a Camelbak is so much better than holding a water bottle for 3+ hours.

Anyway, I started my journey just out my front door. I wanted to get SOME hills in, but my legs were tired and I didn't want to over exhaust myself. So after about 4 miles on the road, I headed towards the C&O which was HUMID. AS. HELL! I was soaked within miles of off-roading.

But it at least it was pretty out!

At mile 8, I took my first break to eat and redo my hair.  My braid was already a tangled mess and unmanageable from the sweat seeping through it.

I went into a coughing fit just after mile 11. I don't remember if I swallowed a gnat or if my throat just got a random tickle, but  my throat began to swell. It worried me because breathing became super difficult. I didn't stop running because I just assumed that it would go away. It did, but the fact that I ran through that really took a lot of my energy. I had to stop just after hitting the 2 hour mark.

The humidity was unbearable and I wondered if my sunscreen prevented my pores from being able to breathe. I had a hard time trying to convince myself to run another 1+ hour of this discomfort. I wanted to give up, but I just kept reminding myself that this was the last difficult run before the marathon. I was going to be on taper vacation after suffering this. I HAD to get through it!

I stopped again at mile 15 to finish the food I packed. I wasn't hungry, but I thought that it may give me what energy I needed to make it.

Obviously, I was over it at this point. But I told myself that as long as I ran the remaining 5 miles, I  could take as many breaks as I wanted. 

Eventually, I made it to the sweet number of 20.

Not my best time, but I'll take it!

I had about a mile to walk before I made it to where Peter was parked. It was a nice way of keeping my legs moving so they didn't immediately stiffen up. I also got to meet a few geese.

I kept on my feet for the remainder of the day by cleaning and grocery shopping. I knew that the second I stopped, I would stiffen up, so I was glad I had the strength to continue moving. I slept like a log that night though!

This morning, I did another 8 miles. The weather didn't get any better, but I was just happy that it was ONLY 8 miles. I ran from my house to the Antietam Battlefield for the views.

Though it was hot, I think I am adjusting better than expected. My pace has slowed a good bit, but I figured that would happen.

Anyway, my longest run this week is 12 miles and I hope to get some bike rides in as good cross-training as my tapering begins. I am looking forward to some reduced mileage for once! I have been non-stop for about 6 months now! 

As the temps go up, have you noticed any differences with your training?

Do you think taking breaks during a long run is cheating?

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