Marathon Journal: 20 miles!

February 1, 2010

Today was supposed to be a 16 mile run but something happened in mile 15 that changed my mind. We have to go back to last year’s marathon where I almost didn’t run it because of my knees. So with every run this year I have this fear that that old knee injury is going to come back and end my pursuit of this year’s goal. So when I felt pretty good around mile 15 I honestly didn’t think I might feel as good at mile 15 in one month when I’m supposed to run 18 to 20 miles.

It would stink if after I ran a 16, 18 and a 20 miler that I blew out my knee three weeks before Marathon day. So I figured if I went for it and screwed up my knee I might still have time to recover by the big race. It is common knowledge that increasing miles on long runs by too much increases risk of injury more than anything else which is why most mileage increase by one or two miles each week. So it probably seems weird to doubly risk injury in the name of avoiding injury but I think I did the right thing.

I’m not sure what the rest of my training should be now given I just reached the goal I wanted to reach 30 days from now. It’s not good to overtrain or peak too early, so I’ll have to work something out that keeps me frosty for the race but doesn’t put more pressure on my knees. I’ll probably avoid running for a good 4 or 5 days to really let my legs recover before doing even a 4 mile run. My plan is to do long runs on weekends of 9, 18, 10, 16, wait 3 weeks and do the Marathon. Something like that (Bob, maybe you can help me figure them out).

The run wasn’t pretty. The first 15 miles went really fast, but I was really dragging during the last three miles where I was doing 15 and 16 minute miles which is barely moving and most scientists would be split on defining it as a jog. At mile 15 I had to run into the house to pee. My Beloved assumed I had just finished my long run and I yelled that I was just stopping for a potty break. I asked her for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She hammered one together and I was out the door for the last leg of my run. The PB and J thing is working well for me since it puts something more solid than Gu packs in my system. It’s satisfying.

The shame of all shames was my musical selection. I got a lot of help from an unexpected source: Lady Ga Ga. Hi, I’m a 43 year old man listening to two Lady Ga Ga songs to keep my mind off the road. I also listened to Larry Arnn on Hugh Hewitt going over the great thinkers of the Western world. He went over Rousseau, Hobbes, Locke and Marx. Stand to Reason has a great apologetics podcast and they were talking about parents who experience suffering through the loss of a child. I drew strength from the story of a couple who endured excruciating pain yet drew closer to God.

My previous running record was 18 miles. I did that some time around March of 2009. That was the run that first blew out my knee with arthritic symptoms. I looked down at my mileage counter and when it read 18.4 miles I got this huge smile. I knew I was in personal record territory! I didn’t know if I’d ever get north of 18 miles again so I felt humbled and appreciative of a good God who saw fit to give me another day on this amazing earth to run just a little more.

I want to start this next point by announcing that I think women are tougher than men. Men are weaker and that’s why our accomplishments are actually more heroic than when women do them. We’re weaker, lazier, stupider, meaner but the world records of strength, productivity, intelligence and kindness are all held by men in my view. It’s because we are crippled with skills but compensated by a naive, almost-childish grasp of inspiration. We really are romantic about our pursuit of accomplishments. James Brown doesn’t tell you why it’s a man’s world, but I have a feeling it’s our world because we’re born without it.

I’m not sure if it was Dale Lawrence or Mark Lorenzen who wrote this portion of the Neverhood Chronicles (a video game I created in the mid-90s) that document a mythic race of alien ant-creatures called Ynts. The Ynts were wonderfully sexist in a stupid, hilarious way including their desire to always be at war. Well, they end up being in a war against a bunch of female Ynts and they jumped on each other’s spears because it was more honorable to be killed by a fellow male Ynt than to lose in battle to a female. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but I know that only a wise male would come up with a such a story. Follow me just a little farther, I swear this is going somewhere.

Yesterday, my 18 mile TenNapel family record was beaten by a woman. My Beloved ran 19 miles yesterday, and yes, that played into my desire to run 20 miles. Don’t get offended, because I didn’t do it out of strength or nobility, I did so solely out of weakness and frailty as a member of the weaker stronger sex. When my Beloved ran 19 miles yesterday, she wore the running pants of the family. Now we all know she’s the better athlete, I guarantee you that should we both finish the marathon that her time will be better than mine. So she’s going to win the election, but I’m going to smoke her in the primaries. Because as big as my smile was when my Garmin read 18.4 miles I had an entirely different kind of smile when it read 19.2. I wear the running pants of the family again. It’ll only last for two weeks, but I’ll take those two weeks in the name of honoring my fellow Ynts. And yes, running 20 miles felt more like jumping on a spear than winning any kind of race.

Upon reaching the sidewalk in front of my house I stopped and looked at the cement steps that lead up to the front door. That looked like another 20 miles. Everything was hard. I couldn’t untie my shoes. I dropped a water bottle and just looked at it on the floor for a minute before saying, “I can’t get that.” After a good hour of eating, I took off my shoes and found that two of my right toes were bleeding. The pinky toe wouldn’t be going to market because the market would think it was a pinky toe Dawn of the Dead.

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10 Responses to “Marathon Journal: 20 miles!”


  1. I am in total awe. Gaga, even.

  2. Bob McGowan Says:

    Wow Doug, that’s great. Off the top of my head I would say do a three week taper before the race, only about 9 or 10 next week and up and down in the middle weeks. Pretty much what you sketched out. Mainly listen to your body at this point. You may need to back off in two weeks to 16 miles and then take it up again two weeks after that. Today you felt good but you may have a bad day or two. Take care of your toes and really take it easy this week. You’re really doing well. Beat your old PR, beat your spouse, beat your time from last year,etc. is all valid motivation to get you through those last few miles. All that being said, you know who gives you the strength to finish the race. Nice job.

  3. Chris Says:

    Aah, this blog post is gold. Please hurry up
    and write a non fiction book!

  4. lemm Says:

    Lol. I cracked up at the “I can’t get that” bit…

    Well done…but get those toes in a water soak stat…blisters aren’t fun!

  5. Kathy Fullerton Says:

    I enjoy your writing, Doug. Congrats on wearing the pants in the family. Now that you’ve got those pants on…you better sit on the couch for a while and recover before your next run.

  6. Brade Says:

    So are you a WNBA fan?

    (This is usually a nice way to cut through the crap about which gender’s athletic prowess people truly prefer.)

    BTW good to see you’re doing yo’ thang on the internet. EWJ was certainly a great little niche piece of my childhood!

  7. Bob McGowan Says:

    Hi Doug, take it easy this week but next time you want to do a little speed work, try doing some Yasso 800s. I know, you’re going to have lots of fun with that name but they work and they break up the monotony of training. Here’s a link: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-244-255-624-0,00.html

  8. Lynn Maudlin Says:

    I so don’t relate to running distances… once I developed breasts, running became painful for me & I did as little as possible. However, I have a cousin who marathons, very similar body type (not quite as tall, about as lanky), and he happily runs 20 miles – at one point he was running 20 miles several times a week (which impresses the heck out of me but also prompts me to ask, are you effin’ nuts?!).

    I don’t run but I can do a vertical workout in a swimming pool for hours on end (you’ve seen me: “buoyant” is my middle name!). Ynts to you.


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